James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 22 March 1825

From Thomas Jefferson

Monticello Mar. 22. 25.

Dear Sir

George Tucker accepts, as you know, and will be in place early in April. Emmet accepts and will be here about the same time. Henry St. George Tucker declines, expressly on the grounds of the local attachments of his family, with abundance of thanks Etc. to the Visitors; Barbour throws a greedy grapple at both places. I inclose you his letter and my answer.1 I have still some hope that when he sees that he can have but a choice of the one or the other, his clear head will see the great superiority of our offer. If he refuses, I must exercise the power you gave me of calling a meeting. But what then? I have been able to think of no new subject; have you? Preston and Robertson2 alone occur to me. I would prefer the former, but have scarcely a ray of hope of his acceptance. I wish you would enquire into the character of Robertson. I have done so from many, who know him well. They agree in characterising him as able, amiable, probe,3 and soundly orthodox in his politics, remarkably clear and ready in developing his ideas, and clos⟨ely⟩ logical at the same time. His educn. has been a common classical one. Mr. Loyal, ⟨who⟩ said he was acquainted with him, did not think him equal to Tucker or Barbour, and indeed did not consider him as of high qualifications.

Our Students are at present between 50. & 60, and are coming in 2. or 3. eve⟨ry⟩ day. We hear of many on the road who cannot come on, the Richmond and Frederi⟨cksburg⟩ stages having ceased to run. Some of them hire horses and get on. The schools of antient & modern languages and Mathematics have a little over or under 30. each. Nat. Philosophy fewer, because few come well enough prepared in Mathematics to enter that school to any advantage. They are half idle all, for want of books, Hilliard’s supply,4 shipped from Boston the 2d inst. being not yet arrived. Charlottesville has not had the offer of a single boarder, and I think will not have one as long as a dormitory is unoccupied.5 Our code of rules is in press, and are moreover in a course of publicn. in the Central gazette.

RC (DLC); draft (DLC: Jefferson Papers). RC has last sentence, closure, and signature clipped, with a note in the lower left margin in JM’s hand: “cut off for an autograph.” Words and parts of words in angle brackets, and the remainder of letter as noted above, are supplied from draft. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1See Jefferson to Philip P. Barbour, 21 Mar. 1825 (DLC: Jefferson Papers). Barbour’s letter to Jefferson of 12 Mar. declined the position of law professor unless he could keep his judicial appointment (MHi: Coolidge Collection).

2This was probably John Robertson (1787–1873), a lawyer, writer, and a graduate of the College of William and Mary, who served in the Virginia legislature, 1816–19, and was state attorney general, 1823–34. Robertson was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1834–40. In 1841 he was appointed judge of the twenty-first Virginia judicial circuit; in 1851 he became judge of the circuit court of Richmond and Henrico County. An active supporter of the Confederacy, his last public service was in the Virginia Senate, 1861–63.

3Upright, honest (Fr.).

4William Hilliard (1778–1836), an “eminent printer and bookseller” of Cambridge, Massachusetts, ran the University Press at Harvard College, and was the University of Virginia’s agent for the purchase of textbooks and books for the library (Portsmouth Journal of Literature & Politics, 7 May 1836; Robin E. Rider, “‘Perspicuity and Neatness of Expression’: Algebra Textbooks in the Early American Republic,” in Science in Print: Essays on the History of Science and the Culture of Print, ed. Rima D. Apple, Gregory J. Downey, and Stephen L. Vaughan [Madison, Wisc., 2002], 45; Bruce, History of the University of Virginia, 2:40).

5RC ends here.

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