Littleton Dennis Teackle was a Maryland merchant, statesman, and businessman who corresponded with Thomas Jefferson during the 1820s. On behalf of the Maryland House of Delegates, Teackle sought Jefferson's thoughts on a proposed system of public education. In conjunction with an association formed to study political economy, Teackle requested Jefferson's support for the cause. In both cases, Jefferson offered brief advice but noted that the infirmities of age precluded further comment.
Primary Source References
1823 February 4. (Teackle to Jefferson). "As chairman of the Committee of Public Instruction [Maryland House of Delegates], I take the liberty of transmitting a bill reputed for that purpose, and beg the favour of your Views upon the System proposed, and that you will be pleased to note its defects, & to suggest Amendments. Presuming upon a knowledge of your liberal & Philanthropic disposition, I venture to Essay this claim upon your time and Attention—"1
1823 February 14. (Jefferson to Teackle). "I have ... considered the bill with care, and must say that I see little to alter for the better in it. ... were I to indulge a single doubt on it's provisions it would be whether it does not employ too many agents. experience has not proved I think the advantage of multitude in executive details. ... age, debility of body necessarily sympathised by the mind warn me that I am past service & ought no longer to meddle in things which belong to younger & more vigorous counsellers ...."2
1824 June 12. (Teackle to Jefferson). "You will probably have seen in the publick prints, that An association has been formed, to conduct a work on Political Œconomy, with intent to discover the causes which have Operated to retard the progress of our prosperity, & to endeavour to illustrate the proper measures of amelioration—The assistance of Many scientifick Gentlemen has been freely offered, & the Society will venture to hope for Your efficient influence in furthering the interesting object of this undertaking."3
1824 June 22. (Jefferson to Teackle). "No one is more sensible than myself of the importance to every country, of the science of political economy .... [I]n this science ... it is best to leave nature to her own agency without interruption, in cases we do not perfectly understand. but I am too old to embark in labors of this difficulty. worn down in body and mind by the weight of years, I must leave to the energy of younger subjects the task of enlightening the minds of their fellow citizens on questions so interesting as whether they are to labor for the benefit of others or of themselves."4
1826 March 22. (Teackle to Jefferson). "I have taken the liberty of addressing to you a Newspaper containing an act of the General Assembly of this State, passed at its Late Session—This is a part of the plan which you were pleased to approve of some years ago."5
1826 March 31. (Jefferson to Teackle). "I am indebted to you for the communication of your law for the establishment of primary schools. I rejoice at the measure being sincerely desirous of seeing the promotion of education, and especially in the South, where we have been too inattentive to it."6