Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 26 July 1780
On December 4, 1779, the Board of Visitors of the College of William & Mary adopted resolutions proposed by Thomas Jefferson—Governor of Virginia and a member of the Board—for a reorganization of the College curriculum. One of the resolutions adopted was the establishment of a chair for a "Professor of Law and Police," to which George Wythe was summarily appointed. The following July, Jefferson wrote to James Madison to affirm the success of the newly-established law school, and his feeling that it "will be of infinite value" to the governing of the Commonwealth.
Letter text, 26 July 1780
Richmond July 26. 1780.
With my letter to the President I enclose a copy of the bill for calling in the paper money now in circulation, being the only copy I have been able to get. In my letter to the Delegates, I ask the favor of them to furnish me with authentic advice when the resolutions of Congress shall have been adopted by five other States. In a private letter I may venture to urge great dispatch and to assign the reasons. The bill on every vote prevailed, but by small majorities; and on one occasion it escaped by two voices only. Its friends are very apprehensive that those who disapprove of it, will be active in the recess of Assembly to produce a general repugnance to it, and to prevail on the Assembly in October to repeal it. They therefore think it of the utmost consequence to get it into a course of execution be fore the Assembly meets. I have stated in my public letter to you what we shall consider as authentic advice, lest a failure in that article should increase the delay. If you cannot otherwise get copies of the bill, it would be worth while to be at some extra ordinary expense to do it.
Some doubt has arisen here to which quarter our 3000 draughts are to go, as Congress directed 5000 militia to be raised and sent to the Southward, including what were ordered
there and these 3000 (which I think will be 3500) draughts are raised in lieu of so many militia. The matter seems clear enough when we consider that a fourth or fifth of the enemy s force are in S. Carolina. It could not be expected that N. Carolina which contains but a tenth of the American militia, should be left to support the Southern War alone, more especially when the regular force to the Northward and the expected aids are taken into the scale. I doubt more whether the balance of the 1,900,000 Doll, are meant by Congress to be sent Northwardly, because in a resolution subsequent to the requisition of the sum before mentioned, they seem to appropriate all the monies from Maryland Southward to the Southern military chest. We shall be getting ready the balance in which great disappointments have arisen from an inability to sell our tobacco, and in the meantime wish I could be advised whether it is to go Northward or Southward. The aids of money from the State through the rest of the present year will be small, our taxes being effectually anticipated by certificates issued for want of money and for which the sheriffs are glad to exchange their collections rather than bring them to the Treasury. Congress desired N. Carolina & Virginia to recruit, remount, & equip Washington's & White's horse. The whole has been done by us
except as to 200 saddles which the Q. M. expects to get from the Northward. This draws from us about six or seven hundred thousand pounds, the half of which I sup pose is so much more than was expected from us. We took on us the whole, because we supposed N. Carolina would be considerably burthened with calls for occasional horse, in the present low state of our Cavalry, and that the disabled horses would be principally to be exchanged there for fresh.
Our troops are in the utmost distress for clothing as are also our Officers. What we are to do with the 3000 draughts when they are raised I cannot foresee.
Our new Institution at the College has had a success which has gained it universal applause. Wythe's school is numerous, they hold weekly Courts & Assemblies in the Capitol. The professors join in it; and the young men dispute with elegance, method & learning. This single school by throwing from time to time new hands well principled, & well informed into the legislature, will be of infinite value.
I wish you every felicity & am Dr. Sir
P.S. you have not lost sight of the map I hope.
Your friend & servt
- "From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 26 July 1780," Founders Online, National Archives.
- "To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 26 July 1780," Founders Online, National Archives.
- "Letter, 1780 July 26, Richmond, [Virginia], to [James] Madison, n.p.," Mss. SI Jefferson, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William & Mary.