Thomas Jefferson Papers

Chiles Terrell to Thomas Jefferson, 13 September 1822

From Chiles Terrell

Richmond September 13th 1822

Dear Sir,

I herewith transmit you, a demonstration, of a Theory of due East and West lines, which was published in the Enquirer, on the 20th of may 1815, by myself, under the signature of, a Citizen of Richmond.

I know, that it would be sufficient for you, to have only the proposition stated, as I at first gave it, to the public on the 25th of February 1815: But confess, that I have the vanity to wish you, when at liesure, to read my demonstration, which is original, as it relates to myself, being deduced from the doctrine of the Sphere and the properties of the Earth. Besides, I think it important, in developing the principles of Mapping, and may account for many irregularities, in Surveying and Navigation, which have usually been ascribed1 to the variation of the needle and other causes. My object in the demonstration, was not only to refute the reasoning of my opponents, but to illustrate the subject, so that it might be understood by surveyors and other readers unacquainted, or but slightly acquainted, with the Mathematics. Hence it appears in a language and manner not strictly scientifical. But such as it is, without farther Apology, I present it to your consideration, and if it should afford you any Satisfaction, it will be but a very small return, for that which I have long enjoyed in the perusal of your Notes.

With salutations of sincere respect, and the Kindest wishes, I remain a citizen of Richmond, and an Emigran[t] from the Banks of the Mountain stream,—O—my—chu[m]

Chiles Terrell

RC (DLC); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 20 Sept. 1822 and so recorded in SJL.

Chiles Terrell (1780–1852), educator, surveyor, and farmer, was an Albemarle County native who taught English, French, geography, history, mathematics, and moral and natural philosophy in Richmond from 1810 until at least 1824. Having surveyed land in Kentucky beginning in about 1826, he moved to Louisville the following year and became a professor of mathematics at Jefferson Seminary. Terrell owned twelve slaves in 1820, seven a decade later, and three in 1840. He settled permanently in 1839 in McCracken County, Kentucky (William H. Perrin and others, Kentucky. A History of the State [1885], 326; KyLoF: Terrell Papers; Richmond Enquirer, 29 May 1810, 29 Nov. 1811; Richmond Virginia Patriot, 21 Dec. 1814; Richmond Enquirer, 4 Sept. 1818, 6 Apr. 1824; Journal of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Kentucky [1828–29 sess.]: 173 [18 Dec. 1828]; DNA: RG 29, CS, Richmond, 1820, Ky., Jefferson Co., 1830, McCracken Co., 1840, 1850; gravestone inscription in Oak Grove Cemetery, Paducah, Ky.).

your notes: TJ’s Notes on the State of Virginia. my—chum probably refers to Mechum’s River, which is located a few miles west of Charlottesville.

1Manuscript: “ascribled.”

Index Entries

  • geography; and due east and west lines search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Notes on the State of Virginia search
  • navigation; and due east and west lines search
  • Notes on the State of Virginia (Thomas Jefferson); mentioned search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); prints work by C. Terrell search
  • surveying; and due east and west lines search
  • Terrell, Chiles (1780–1852); and due east and west lines search
  • Terrell, Chiles (1780–1852); identified search
  • Terrell, Chiles (1780–1852); letters from search