James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 14 March 1823

From Thomas Jefferson

Monto. Mar. 14. 23

Dear Sir

The inclosed lre. in Gr. Lat. Fr. and Eng. with it’s accompaniments being intended for your inspection as much as mine, is now forwarded for your perusal.1 You will be so good as to reinclose them that I may return them to the writer. The answer I propose to give is, what I have given on all similar applications, that until the debt of the University is discharged, and it’s funds liberated, the board has thot. it wd be premature to act at all on the subject of Professors. But however qualified mr O’Flaherty2 may be, a character taken from an ordinary grammar school, whose measure is of course exactly known, would not be so likely to fulfill our views of eclat, and to fill the public imagination with so much expectation as one selected for us by distinguished men from an institution of the first celebrity in the world, as Oxford; and from which we may justly expect a person of the highest qualifications. Ever & affecty. yours

Th: J.

Draft (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1The three-page letter from Thomas J. O’Flaherty to Jefferson, 10 Mar. 1823 (ViU: Special Collections, Jefferson Papers; docketed by Jefferson as received 13 Mar.), conveyed O’Flaherty’s wish to be considered for the position of professor of languages at the University of Virginia, and enclosed letters of recommendation from Thomas Cooper and Robert S. Garnett.

2Thomas J. O’Flaherty (ca. 1801–1846), born in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, immigrated to the United States around 1820. At the time of this letter he was principal of Rappahannock Academy in Caroline County, Virginia. He soon left Virginia to study medicine in Philadelphia but thereafter began theological studies. By 1829 he had moved to Boston where he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and began editing the newspaper the Jesuit, or Catholic Sentinel. In the winter of 1831 O’Flaherty gave a series of popular public lectures on Catholic beliefs in response to attacks made on the Roman Catholic Church by the Reverend Lyman Beecher, a prominent Protestant minister. O’Flaherty was pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Salem, Massachusetts, 1842–46 (Boston Emancipator, 8 Apr. 1846; Robert H. Lord, et al., History of the Archdiocese of Boston [3 vols.; New York, 1944], 2:49, 198–201, 273–74).

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