Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph Echols to Thomas Jefferson, 20 May 1822

From Joseph Echols

Lynchburg 20th May, 1822.

D sir.

your extensive Knowledge of mankind and your literary Acquirements together with your Philantrophy induces me to disclose to you my novel project hoping you will grant me (in confidence) your oppinion and advice on the Subject of my enquiry, the more fully to enable you to form an oppinion I will give you a Sketch of my history.   I am a Virginian by birth of Reputable but Rather obscure Parentage had no connection or friend in my youth of that Standing in life to forward me in my Views, and although I had a Small patrimony (my Parents died before I was 12 months old) yet my Guardian neglected my education almost entirely. I was permitted to go to School one year at the age of 14 in which time I acquired a Knowledge of the Arithmatick, and which constituted almost the whole of my education. at 17 I was turnd loose on the world to shift. Since which time I have been engaged in trade & have Succeeded So well as that the income of my estate is at this time ample to Support myself & little family (having a wife & 3 children) in a Genteel or Respectable Style and be accumulating Something without my Personal attention to business—and although I am now 33 year old I am Particularly desirous of Acquiring an education not only that I may Receive the enjoyment of it myself but that I may be more usefull to Society and more especially with a View to benefit my family. it Seems however to be a novel undertaking and you will Greatly oblige me to Give me your Views on the Subject which I hope you will indulge me with and if you think it a Rational Scheme Give me your advice as to the particular course I Should take—& what Schools you would Recommend to me—

I am of oppinion I could Withdraw my mind from my family and business so as to Study as well as ever I could or I could with convenience I presume take my family with me. having only 3 children & 2 of which are of propper Size to be at School.

yours Respectfully

Joseph Echols

RC (MHi); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson esq Charlottesville Va”; franked; postmarked; endorsed by TJ as received 21 May 1822 and so recorded in SJL.

Joseph Echols (1789–1824), commission merchant, was born in Halifax County and conducted business, with and without partners, in Lynchburg and Richmond from at least 1816. He resided in 1820 in Lynchburg, where he owned eight slaves, and he purchased the Franklin Hotel there in 1823. Echols died in Lynchburg of bilious fever the following year. Shortly after his death his personal estate, which included thirty-two slaves, was valued at slightly over $10,000 (Lyon G. Tyler, ed., Men of Mark in Virginia [1906–09], 5:124; Richmond Enquirer, 14 Nov. 1816; Richmond Compiler, 17 July 1818; Lynchburg Press and Public Advertiser, 19 Oct. 1818; DNA: RG 29, CS, Lynchburg, 1820; Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 24 Sept. 1823; Fincastle Mirror, 11 June 1824; Richmond Constitutional Whig, 24 Aug. 1824; Lynchburg Hustings and Corporation Court Will Book, A:67–8, 218–22; gravestone inscription in Green Hill Cemetery, Union, now W.Va.).

Index Entries

  • Echols, Joseph; family of search
  • Echols, Joseph; identified search
  • Echols, Joseph; letter from search
  • Echols, Joseph; seeks educational advice from TJ search