Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes, 17 November 1821

To Francis Eppes

Poplar Forest Nov. 17. 21.

Dear Francis

On my return to this place on the 5th inst. I found here your letter of Oct. 22. I learnt from that with real affliction that it was doubtful whether you would be permitted at Columbia1 to pursue those studies only which will be analogous to the views & purposes of your future life. it is a deplorable considn that altho neither your father nor myself have spared any effort in our power to press on your education, yet so miserable are the means of educn in2 our state that it has been retarded & baffled to a most unfortunate degree.3 and now that you have only a single year left, you cannot be permitted to employ that solely in what will be useful to you.4 every instn however has a right to lay down it’s own laws, and we are bound to acquiescence. there seems from your lre to be still a possibility that you may be permitted to remain as an irregular student. that is the most desirable event. if not, then to obtain from Dr Cooper & mr Wallace the favor of attending them as a private student unconnected with the College. from them you can recieve every instruction necessary for you, towit in Mathematics, Astronomy, Nat. Philosophy & Chemistry. if that cannot be permitted, there will remain nothing but the disastrous alternative of again shifting your situation. I know nothing of the plan or degree of instruction at Chapel-hill. perhaps you might be excluded there also by similar rules. if so, William & Mary is your last resource.5 there6 students are permitted to attend the schools of their choice, & those branches of science only which will be useful to them7 in the line of life they propose. the objection to that place is it’s autumnal unhealthiness.

The thankfulness you express for my cares of you bespeaks8 a feeling & good heart: but the tender9 recollections which bind my affections to you, are such as will for ever call for every thing I can do for you, and the comfort of my life is in the belief that you will deserve it. to my prayers that your life may be distinguished by it’s worth I add the assurance of my constant & affectionate love.


Dft (MHi); at foot of text: “Mr Francis Eppes”; endorsed by TJ.

Eppes’s letter of oct. 22, not found, was likely that described in SJL as a letter of 20 Oct. 1821 received 5 Nov. 1821.

1Preceding two words interlined.

2Preceding two words interlined.

3Reworked from “baffled most unfortunately.”

4Reworked from “what is useful.”

5Reworked from “resort.”

6Reworked from “if so, there remains William & Mary only, where I know that.”

7Preceding two words interlined.

8Word interlined in place of “is proof of.”

9Word interlined.

Index Entries

  • astronomy; collegiate education in search
  • chemistry; collegiate education in search
  • Cooper, Thomas (1759–1839); professor at South Carolina College search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); education of, at South Carolina College search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); letters from accounted for search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); letters to search
  • Eppes, Francis Wayles (TJ’s grandson); TJ’s relationship with search
  • Eppes, John Wayles (TJ’s son-in-law); relationship with son search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Family & Friends; relations with grandchildren search
  • mathematics; collegiate education in search
  • natural philosophy; collegiate education in search
  • North Carolina, University of; mentioned search
  • schools and colleges; University of North Carolina search
  • South Carolina College (later University of South Carolina); and F. W. Eppes search
  • Wallace, James (d.1851); and South Carolina College search
  • William and Mary, College of; curriculum of search
  • Williamsburg, Va.; unhealthiness of search