James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Campbell and Others, 12 February 1810

From James Campbell and Others

Knoxville February 12th. 1810


In the Year 1807 the General Assembly of Tennessee established a College in the Vicinity of this Place and at the same time endowed it with the profits arising from the proceeds of the Sale of one half of the Land appropriated by an Act of Congress of the United States for the Support of Two Colleges one in East and the other in West Tennessee.1 If East Tennessee College had the Necessary buildings Library Apparatus &c. it is believed the funds thus derived from the General Government together with some other funds belonging to the College would be sufficient to defray the expence of conducting the Institution in a manner which would render it immediately as well as highly useful to the public—to procure money sufficient to defray the expence of buildings a Library &c. the Legislature at their last session passed an Act authorising a Lottery of which we are appointed Trustees. In pursuance of the Trust thus reposed in us we have devised a Scheme of the first Class, and are using our best exertions to make Sale of the Tickets. As this Seminary has been thus indirectly endowed by the United States we believe we should not discharge the duty assigned us, if we did not take an early opportunity to solicit your Aid in the Cause of Literature.

We have asked the favor of the Honble. Joseph Anderson one of our Senators2 to supply your Excellency with as many Tickets as you will have the Goodness to receive.3 We have the Honor to be With Sentiments of great Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedient Servants

James Campbell

H. White

Thos McCorry

Robt Craighead

John N. Gamble

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1The 1806 federal law conveying public lands to Tennessee set aside one hundred thousand acres for the endowment of two state colleges (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America ... (17 vols.; Boston, 1848-73). description ends , 2:382).

2Joseph Anderson (1757–1837) was a Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee, 1797–1815, and first comptroller of the treasury, 1815–36.

3No reply from JM to this solicitation has been found, and the East Tennessee College lottery failed. The trustees sent a similar letter to Jefferson, who declined to promote the lottery scheme but set forth his ideas on university buildings and “an academical village” that he later implemented at the University of Virginia (Philip M. Hamer, “The East Tennessee College Lottery,” Tennessee Alumnus, 9[1925]: 7–12).

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