Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to John Clark, 12 October 1821

To John Clark

Oct. 12. 21


I have been applied to in behalf of the Northern seminaries in the US to solicit the cooperation of those in the South & West1 in an application to the ensuing session of Congress for a repeal of the duty on imported books, which is believed to be a considerable obstruction to the progress of science among us.

I have accordingly addressed letters (of which the inclosed is a copy) to such personal acquaintances as I happened to have among the Professors trustees or visitors of the Colleges of Chapel-hill in N.C. of Columbia in S.C. & of Transylvania in Kentucky, asking the cooperation of those instns. but not knowing whether among my personal2 acquaintances3 in the State of Georgia4 any happen to be either Professor, trustee or visitor of the University of Athens in that state, I take the liberty of inclosing a similar letter5 to your excellency, with a request that you will do me the favor of addressg6 it to whatever person you may think most likely to promote it’s views and that he will consider it as addressed to him by myself, and will be so good as to do on it whatsoever he thinks right. I pray Y. E. to accept the assurance of my high esteem7 & considn


Dft (DLC); on verso of reused address cover to TJ; at foot of text: “H. E. The Governor of Georgia”; endorsed by TJ as a letter to the “Governor of Georgia” and so recorded (with bracketed notation: “inclosing Sep. 28. for Athens”) in SJL. Enclosure: TJ to Hutchins G. Burton, Thomas Cooper, and Samuel Brown, 28 Sept. 1821.

John Clark (1766–1832), public official, was born in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, and moved with his family to Wilkes County in the Georgia backcountry in 1774. At age fourteen he briefly attended school in Wake County, North Carolina, but left school to fight under his father in the Revolutionary War and continued in the Georgia militia after the war, eventually attaining the rank of major general. Clark entered politics and became a leader of the frontier faction in a long-standing Georgia divide between coastal and upland planters and backcountry farmers. He represented Wilkes County in the Georgia House of Representatives, 1801–03, and in the state senate the following year. In a duel in 1806 Clark wounded William H. Crawford, one of the leaders of the opposing faction. Andrew Jackson later sought out Clark as an ally against Crawford, their mutual enemy. After failed efforts in 1813 and 1817, Clark was elected governor of Georgia in 1819 by the state legislature and reelected two years later. In that office he championed free public education and democratic political reforms, efforts that were mostly unsuccessful. Clark lost a bid for the governorship in 1825, the first such contest determined by a popular vote, after which he retired from politics. Late in the 1820s he moved to Florida, where he was appointed to a position protecting public forests. In 1830 Clark owned twenty-three slaves. He died at his home on Saint Andrew Bay in Florida (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; Robert Sobel and John Raimo, eds., Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978 [1978], 1:287; Georgia State Senate, Journal [May 1804 sess.]; [Nov.–Dec. 1804 sess.]; Jackson, Papers description begins Sam B. Smith, Harold D. Moser, Daniel Feller, and others, eds., The Papers of Andrew Jackson, 1980– , 10 vols. description ends , 4:286–7, 323–5, 349–51; DNA: RG 29, CS, Fla., Washington Co., 1830; Tallahassee Floridian, 30 Oct. 1832; gravestone inscription in Marietta National Cemetery, Marietta, Georgia).

TJ’s enclosed circular letter was presented to the Board of Trustees of the University of Georgia (university of athens) on 12 Nov. 1821 by Moses Waddel, the school’s president. The following day the committee charged with considering it reported that they agreed entirely with TJ and recommended that the trustees petition Congress on the subject and seek support from Georgia’s congressional delegation (GU: Trustees’ Minutes, University of Georgia).

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Preceding two words interlined in place of “the.”

3Manuscript: “acquaintan-.”

4Preceding five words interlined.

5Preceding three words interlined in place of “one of those.”

6Reworked from “will address.”

7Word interlined in place of “respect.”

Index Entries

  • books; tariffs on search
  • Clark, John; and tariffs on books search
  • Clark, John; identified search
  • Clark, John; letter to search
  • Congress, U.S.; and tariffs search
  • Congress, U.S.; petitions to search
  • Georgia, University of; and tariffs on books search
  • North Carolina, University of; and tariffs on books search
  • schools and colleges; Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.) search
  • schools and colleges; University of Georgia search
  • schools and colleges; University of North Carolina search
  • South Carolina College (later University of South Carolina); and tariffs on books search
  • taxes; on books search
  • Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.); and tariffs on books search
  • Waddel, Moses; as president of University of Georgia search