Dr. Thomas Cooper, son-in-law of Joseph Priestly, emigrated to the United States in 1794. He became a close confidant of Jefferson and they corresponded about education throughout the entire period of Jefferson's planning of the University of Virginia. Cooper was, in fact, the first member of University's faculty, being appointed a professor of natural science and law. Jefferson here writes to tell him that his Charlottesville accommodations will soon be ready. "your pavilion is finished except plaistering and painting. the former will require all this month, from the variableness of the season. the house joiner asks a fortnight after removal of the rubbish of the plaisterer to hang his doors and windows, which are ready, & the glazing also done. the painting will then take a fortnight, so that we believe of certainty all will be ready by the 1st day of May, on which day also we shall be ready to answer your draught for 1500 D. but I have said to Mr. Vaughan that on the very day on which the house is actually ready, I will send to mrs Cooper the information which will reach her in 6. days, so that she may time her removal with certainty."
But Jefferson must temper the encouraging news about Cooper's "pavilion" with disappointing news about the scheduled opening of the University for classes. "you ask if we shall want you Feb 1.1820 [i.e., 1821]? this needs some detail. our institution has gained so much on the publick mind that we had counted with confidence on an aid from the legislature at their late session which would have enabled us to finish all our buildings this year, and get our professors into place by Feb. next. the Senate voted us 80,000. D with a single dissenting voice only. it went to the other house was referred to a committee, who reported favorably and unanimously, and was lost in that house of nearly 200. by a majority of 8. only. they authorised us to borrow on the credit of our own funds 60. M. D. this helps us but little: as their refusing the 80 M. was unquestionaly occasioned by the default of their treasurer for 120,000 D. then recently made known. no doubt is entertained by any one that they will make us the gift at their next session."
However, Jefferson continues, even this brief delay in funding "will, in my opinion, have the unfortunate effect of delaying the opening of the institution another year, say to Feb. 1822. for the importance of finishing our buildings before we engage our professors, will disable us till the next year from procuring & getting them into place. this will suspend our readiness for you another year, during which however you will be free to take up your residence here or elsewhere or such arrangements as will be agreeable to yourself. these things will receive their authoritative consideration at our periodical meeting on the 3d. of April, after which if any thing interesting to you takes place, you shall hear from me." In actuality, the first classes at Mr. Jefferson's University did not meet until March of 1825; when they did convene, Professor Cooper was not there. Before he taught a single class, Cooper was forced to resign following a bitter dispute with Virginia clergymen over his agnosticism and other less than orthodox religious views. Cooper did teach at several American schools, including Dickinson College, the University of Pennsylvania, and South Carolina College.
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