Thomas Jefferson Papers

Samuel J. Harrison to Thomas Jefferson, 22 October 1821

From Samuel J. Harrison

Lynchburg Oct 22. 1821

Dear Sir

This will be handed to you by my son Jesse B. Harrison; who I intend Sending to Cambridge, about the first of next month—He is now in his 17th year, and Graduated at Hampden Sydney, a few weeks ago. I have for Some time anticipated with much Satisfaction, the Idea of his finishing his Education at our own University; and Still hope it will be in operation in good time for that purpose.

As he is going a great way from home, I feel Very desirous of procuring him the best Introductions in my Power—for which purpose he now waits on you—Should you be good enough to furnish him with a Letter, the favor will be forever remembered—He is a most dutyfull & moral boy—and if it was proper for me to Speak of his Advancement; I might add, that he obtained the first honors at College.

I am aware of the frequency of these applications to you, and therefore trouble you with great Reluctance; but Such is the Value that we put upon a word from you; that I cannot forbeare the Trespass: which be pleased to have the goodness to pardon.

with great Esteem, I am yr friend & Servt

S J Harrison

RC (MHi); with Dft of TJ to Harrison, 24 Oct. 1821, on verso; at foot of text: “Ths Jefferson Esqr”; endorsed by TJ as received 23 Oct. 1821 and so recorded in SJL.

Jesse Burton Harrison (1805–41), attorney, was born in Lynchburg, the son of TJ’s acquaintance, the merchant Samuel J. Harrison. He received a B.A. from Hampden-Sydney College in 1821 and then attended Harvard University the next two years with the support of George Ticknor, following TJ’s introduction. Harrison received a law degree from Harvard in 1825, continued his law studies in Richmond, was admitted to the Virginia bar in March 1825, and practiced in Lynchburg for four years. Despite a recommendation from TJ, his application for a professorship of French and Spanish at the University of North Carolina in 1826 was unsuccessful, and two years later his bid to become the professor of ancient languages at the University of Virginia also failed. Between 1829 and 1831 Harrison traveled extensively in Europe, and he spent several months studying classics and philosophy in Göttingen, Germany. He returned to Lynchburg but soon thereafter moved to New Orleans, where he was admitted to the Louisiana bar in January 1832. Harrison served as secretary at meetings of the bar association in New Orleans and edited a condensed edition of Louisiana law reports. He joined the American Colonization Society and argued that slavery was detrimental to the economy of slave-owning states. Harrison corresponded with Henry Clay, was active in Whig politics, and edited the party’s local organ, the New Orleans Louisiana Advertiser. He also lectured at Jefferson College there and helped to found the Louisiana Historical Society. Harrison visited TJ at both Poplar Forest and Monticello, was friendly with the extended Randolph and Eppes families, and was a longtime friend of TJ’s grandson-in-law Nicholas P. Trist, who supported his efforts to join the University of Virginia’s faculty and fruitlessly encouraged him to write a biography of TJ. Harrison died of yellow fever in New Orleans (Francis Burton Harrison, comp., and Fairfax Harrison, ed., Aris Sonis Focisque: being the memoir of an American family, the Harrisons of Skimino, and particularly of Jesse Burton Harrison and Burton Norvell Harrison [1910]; ViU: Francis B. Harrison Papers; General Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Hampden-Sidney College. Virginia. 1776–1906 [1908], 57; Harvard Catalogue description begins Harvard University Quinquennial Catalogue of the Officers and Graduates, 1636–1925, 1925 description ends , 813; Clay, Papers description begins James F. Hopkins and others, eds., The Papers of Henry Clay, 1959–92, 11 vols. description ends , esp. 8:11, 116; Mary Elizabeth Randolph Eppes to Virginia J. Randolph [Trist], 18 Aug. 1824 [NcU: NPT]; Eppes to Jane H. Nicholas Randolph, 2 Jan. 1825 [Corporation for Jefferson’s Poplar Forest: Moss Collection of Eppes Letters]; TJ’s Recommendation of Harrison, 5 May 1826; Bruce, University description begins Philip Alexander Bruce, History of the University of Virginia 1819–1919: The Lengthened Shadow of One Man, 1920–22, 5 vols. description ends , 2:151–2; George Tucker to James Madison, 27 Nov. 1827 [ViU: JHC]; Harrison to Madison, 3 July 1828, and Madison to Harrison, 15 Aug. 1828 [DLC: Madison Papers]; Nicholas P. Trist to Harrison, [ca. 7 Sept. 1828], 21 Sept. 1828, and 23 Apr. 1832 [DLC: Burton Norvell Harrison Family Collection]; Hore Browse Trist to Nicholas P. Trist, 23 Apr., 21 June 1832 [NcU: NPT]; [Harrison], Review of the Slave Question [1833]; Harrison, ed., Condensed Reports of Cases in the Superior Court of the Territory of Orleans, and in the Supreme Court of Louisiana, 4 vols. [1839–40]; Richmond Whig and Public Advertiser, 23 Feb. 1841; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 27 Feb. 1841).

Index Entries

  • Hampden-Sydney College; students at search
  • Harrison, Jesse Burton; education of search
  • Harrison, Jesse Burton; identified search
  • Harrison, Jesse Burton; introduced to TJ search
  • Harrison, Samuel Jordan; letters from search
  • Harrison, Samuel Jordan; requests letter of introduction for son search
  • Harvard University; students at search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • schools and colleges; Hampden-Sydney College search
  • schools and colleges; Harvard University search
  • Virginia, University of; Students; prospective students search