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    The Free Franked Address Leaf which accompanied Jefferson's 1819 letter about the first college fraternities, F.H.C. and Phi Beta Kappa

    Thomas Jefferson Address Leaf Free Franked "free/Th: Jefferson", one page, 9.5" x 8", address portion, 5" x 3.25". Addressed by Jefferson to "Mr. Thomas McAuley/of Union College/New York" incorporating "Thomas" in the addressee's name. Postmarked in Charlottesville, Virginia, June 17th. Docketed, probably by McAuley, "Th. Jefferson Esqr/14th June 1819." McAuley had written to Jefferson about the Alpha chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Union College in Schenectady, New York, of which he was a member. The letter sent by the 76-year-old former President to McAuley, dated Monticello, June 14, 1819, is in the Swem Library at the College of William and Mary: "Your favor of May 19 has been received [sic], but of the subject it respects I know nothing. I have heard of the Alpha, Phi, Beta and Kappa society, but never understood either it's [sic] location or object. when I was a student of Wm & Mary college of this state there existed a society called the F.H.C. society, confined to the number of six students only, of which I was a member, but it had no useful object. nor do I know whether it now exists. Accept my salutations and assurances of respect." Photocopy of Jefferson's letter is included. The F.H.C. Society was the first American college fraternity with the letters most likely standing for the Latin words Fraternitas, Humanitas, and Cognitio (Brotherhood, Humanity, Knowledge). Non-members called the society the Flat Hat Club. It was founded at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, on November 11, 1750. On December 5, 1776, five students at William and Mary, founded a secret society they called Phi Beta Kappa, the initials of the Greek motto, Philosophia Biou Kybernitis (Love of Learning, the Guide of Life). Its first president, future Virginia Congressman John Heath, was a Greek scholar and Latin was already used in the names of existing college literary societies. It has been suggested that Heath had been rejected membership in F.H.C. Seal tear at lower edge. Tear at upper left fold, stain at fold to the left of the postmark. Superb signature. Overall, in fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
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