Thomas Jefferson Papers

Abner S. Bugbee to Thomas Jefferson, 11 February 1822

From Abner S. Bugbee

Monroe Co.1 Rochesterville N.Y. Feb. 11th 1822.—

Dear sir,

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a young man, like myself, to address a gentleman crowned with silver locks, and deeply versed in science, whose mind is enriched by a long course of successful experience, and whose whole life has been marked by extraordinary acts, he feels a degree of diffidence, not easily suppressed.

In writing this, sir, I feel2 confident I am addressing one who remembers that he has once been young;—that he has once been destitute of the great store of knowledge and experience he now possesses; and one who will look with an indulgent eye upon any juvenile or improper expression he may notice in the perusal.

While I rejoice at the erection of so vast an institution as the Central College, in our infant country, I am happy in reflecting that the care and conduct of it is entrusted to one who is richly worthy, and amply competent to discharge the duties of his trust with honor to himself and country.

I have, sir, during several years, been entrusted with the care and education of youth. I have instructed, principally, in Geography, Astronomy, and Mathematicks; in Saratoga Springs, Albany, New York, and Pittsfield & Worcester Mass. Several Gentlemen of your acquaintance, sir, have advised me to seek a situation in the Central College; and I have, at length, consented to address a line to you on the subject. I can probably present as good paper as any Gentleman can ask, and besides, I am willing to recommend myself, by undergoing a thorough examination. If you have not selected a person to instruct in the abovementioned branches, I would thank you to do me the honor of writing. I wish to be informed when the College will commence its operations, and what salary will be given to a gentleman capable of instructing, with propriety, in those branches. I am well acquainted with the projection of Maps, and can produce specimens, not to be excelled, except by copper-plate.

Very respectfully Yours &c

A. S. Bugbee

RC (MHi); dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Feb. 1822 from “Bugler A. S.” and so recorded in SJL. RC (MHi); address cover only; with FC of TJ to John Vaughan, 4 July 1824, on verso; addressed: “Hon. Thos Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; franked; postmarked Rochester, N.Y., 13 Feb.

Abner S. Bugbee (d. 1839), educator, taught in New York and Massachusetts before operating a school in Northampton, Massachusetts, 1824–25. He sold textiles and groceries there in 1827, and he was the librarian of its Second Congregational Society. The following year newspapers described a mechanism devised by Bugbee in which squirrels powered a small mill for grinding coffee and spices. He again conducted a school in Northampton from 1828 to 1829. Bugbee died ten years later from injuries incurred while touring a docked whaling ship in Bridgeport, Connecticut, at which time he was a mathematical lecturer in Benson, Vermont (Northampton Hampshire Gazette, 21 Apr. 1824, 3 Aug. 1825, 7, 28 Feb. 1827, 16 July 1828, 8 Apr. 1829; Edward M. Lawton Jr., The Sesquicentennial History of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, 1825–1975 [(1974)], 10; New-Bedford Mercury, 18 Jan. 1828; Hartford Connecticut Courant, 11 May 1839; Charleston Southern Patriot, 14 May 1839).

when, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary are the opening words of the Declaration of Independence (PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 45 vols. description ends , 1:429).

1Preceeding two words added in margin in a different ink.

2Manuscript: “feell.”

Index Entries

  • astronomy; applicants to teach at University of Virginia search
  • Bugbee, Abner S.; as educator search
  • Bugbee, Abner S.; as mapmaker search
  • Bugbee, Abner S.; identified search
  • Bugbee, Abner S.; letter from search
  • Bugbee, Abner S.; seeks professorship search
  • Declaration of Independence; quoted search
  • geography; applicants to teach at University of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Declaration of Independence search
  • mathematics; University of Virginia professorship of search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; opening of search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty compensation search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; mathematics professorship search