Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell

of all things the most important is the completion of the buildings. the remission of the debt will come of itself. it is already remitted in the mind of every man, even of the enemies of the institution. and there is nothing pressing very immediately for it’s expression. the great object of our aim from the beginning has been to make this establishment the most eminent in the United States, in order to draw to it the youth of every state, but especially of the South and West. we have proposed therefore to call to it characters of the first order of science from Europe as well as our own country; and, not only by their salaries, and the comforts of their situation, but by the distinguished scale of it’s structure and preparation, and the promise of future eminence which these would hold up, to induce them to commit their reputations to it’s future fortunes. had we built a barn for a College, and log-huts for accomodations, should we ever have had the assurance to propose to an European Professor of that character to come to it? why give up this important idea, when so near it’s accomplishment that a single lift more effects it? it is not a half-project which is to fill up the enticement of character from abroad. to stop where we are is to abandon our high hopes, and become suitors to Yale and Harvard for their secondary characters, to become our first.

RC (ViU). FC (DLC). Tr (DLC).
Date Range
December 28, 1822 to December 29, 1822