Benjamin L. Lear to Thomas Jefferson Randolph


In my absence from Washington there was forwarded to me a copy of a letter from General John H. Cocke to Mr R. R. Gurley on the Subject of a fund left by Genl Kosciuszko, in the hands of Mr Jefferson, for the Education of slaves.—

This letter was forwarded to me because I am the administrator of that fund and I write yo now hastily to you on the subject, as Genl Cocke says you are desirous to have the fund applied if possible, to save some of the Slaves left by Mr Jefferson, from a Sale by his creditors.—

On hearing of the death of Genl Kosciuszko, Mr Jefferson requested Mr Wirt to administer this fund or to recommend to him Some other person. Mr Wirt did me the honor to recommend me, & I took administration accordingly.—The disposition of the fund has been a subject of much anxiety to me Ever Since and I had a conversation with Mr Jefferson on the subject at Monticello about three years ago, in wh: he approved very heartily the plan I then proposed to adopt, tho’ he declined to give any advice or Express any opinion in the matter, considering himself, as he said, now without authority or concern in it.—

My plan was to purchase (or procure without purchase) young Slaves and Send them northward for their Education in plain literature & mechanic1 arts, & at a proper age transport them to the Colony in Africa to be as useful there as they may.—I have lately met in New Jersey a Society formed for this purpose principally & expect to meet the Trustees of it again in about a week from this time, on my return from the westward of this. I do not think that the fund can properly be applied under the will to the purpose proposed by Genl Cocke; but, if it Should not be too late, on my return to Washington, the last of this month, I should be happy to hear from you on the Subject & will write you, in reply, more Explicitly than I can now as I am writing lately late at night & am to Set off on a journey Early in the morning.—

Very respecf respectfully, Sir, Your ob: St:
B. L. Lear.
RC (ViU: Papers of the Randolph Family); addressed: “Thomas Jefferson Randolph Esqr Monticello, Virginia”; stamped; postmarked New York, 16 Sept.; endorsed by Randolph: “Lear. BL NY. Sept 15 1826.”
1Manuscript: “mechanc.”
Benjamin L. Lear
Date Range
September 15, 1826