Thomas Jefferson Papers

Theodosius Hansford to University of Virginia Board of Visitors, 15 March 1822

Theodosius Hansford to University of Virginia Board of Visitors

King George County, Virginia, March 15th 1822.


Having determined to give, to the University of Virginia, some books of rare occurrence and ancient edition, I now send them to your care, with a Catalogue enclosed.

They came to my possession in the following manner. My father, in the Revolutionary war, sent to Philadelphia, for some classical books for me, then a boy at school. The person, employed by him to procure them, when arrived at Philadelphia, instead of going to a bookstore to purchase them, was advised by an acquaintance to go to the sale of the estate of a deceased German divine. He went accordingly, and found them there; but could not purchase them, without taking with them a great many others, consisting chiefly of theological works composed in Latin. Nearly all of the latter have been destroyed, as they appeared to be treatises on abstruse points in theology, and being in a dead language, were not likely to be useful at the present day. I have preserved however some works on other subjects, composed in Greek and Latin, which constitute the subject of my present donation.

I have sent also some curiosities collected by me of the following descriptions;—

1. Some stone arrow-heads manufactured by the Aborigines of the Country. The variety of stone of which they are made, and of their size, may hereafter amuse, if not instruct, the scientific man in his researches into the antiquities of America.

2. Some shell-marl found, in the bed of a watercourse, on my land in this County, at least three miles in a strait direction from Potomac river, into which the watercourse empties, and from which, according to the meanders of the watercourse, the place, where the marl is found, is distant at least five miles. The deposit of marine substances in the interior of the country, at such a distance from tide water, may afford some hints to the philosopher in the stu[dy of] natural history, and perhaps some aid to the geologist in ascertaining the nature and qualities of soils, and the causes of the remarkable phenomena occasionally appearing therein.

I hope to be able still farther to contribute my mite to the advancement of the University. I think it may be considered a better “Corinthian capital” of our Republic than Sir Edmund Burke’s order of Nobility is of “polished society.”

Accept assurances of my high regard for yourselves, and my sincerest wishes for the prosperity and success of the institution over which you preside.

Theo. Hansford.

RC (DLC); torn at seal; addressed: “The Visitors of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 Apr. 1822 from “Theodore” Hansford and so recorded in SJL.

Theodosius Hansford (1768–1824), attorney and public official, was a native of King George County and lifelong resident of Green Heights plantation in that county. He began practicing law in 1789. Hansford represented King George in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1792–93, served as a notary public, 1795–1805, and was county sheriff in 1812 and 1819 and clerk of the Senate of Virginia, 1802–24. He supported James Monroe in the 1808 presidential election. Hansford owned nine slaves in 1810 and ten a decade later (Louis H. Manarin, Officers of the Senate of Virginia, 1776–1996 [1997], 299; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , xviii, 188, 192; Richmond Enquirer, 26 Jan. 1808; DNA: RG 29, CS, King George Co., 1810, 1820; King George Co. Order Book, 9:87; King George Co. Minute Book, 10:162; King George Co. Will Book, 3:255–7).

Edmund Burke described the nobility as “the Corinthian capital of polished society” in Reflections on the Revolution in France (London, 1790), 205.

Index Entries

  • Burke, Edmund; Reflections on the Revolution in France search
  • geology; study of search
  • Greek language; works in search
  • Hansford, Alexander; purchases books search
  • Hansford, Theodosius; and artifacts for University of Virginia search
  • Hansford, Theodosius; and books for University of Virginia search
  • Hansford, Theodosius; identified search
  • Hansford, Theodosius; letter from, to University of Virginia Board of Visitors search
  • Indians, American; artifacts of search
  • Latin language; works in search
  • natural history; study of search
  • Potomac River; mentioned search
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France (E. Burke) search
  • religion; works on search
  • shells search
  • Virginia, University of; Board of Visitors; letter to, from T. Hansford search
  • Virginia, University of; Books and Library; books and manuscripts for search
  • Virginia, University of; Establishment; opinions on search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; natural-history specimens for search