Smithfield Preston Foundation
Papers, 1784-1881, n.d., Ms1997-002
September 12, 1831 -- letter from James Patton Preston in Richmond, VA to James McDowell in Lexington, VA
Smithfield Sept 12th 1831
My Dear Sir
I have just received a letter from my son James which was forwarded from Richmond, informing me that he had been dismissed from College, but reinstated "without much difficulty," which has given me much uneasiness.
He has given me his "account of the whole transaction" which I do not doubt is substantially correct. I should however be greatly indebted to you for such further information on the subject as would enable me to decide and act correctly. I have written to James, in reply to his letter which expresses great regret at his folley, and repentance for having injured the feelings of Mr. Garland through misinformation. He informs me that he had cheerfully made an appology to Mr. Garland as soon as he was convinced of his mistake. I hope his acts have been the mere indiscretions of youth, and that they have not been marked by any event of principle, or malignity of temper, calculated to injure him or lessen my confidence in his character.
He says that Doctr. Marshall told him that his former conduct had been good, and that he had attended well to his studies, from which I wager that he has seen as friendly to him as his official status would admit. James fears that he has incurred the displeasure of the Faculty which will expose him to their future distrust; and I fear that his prejudice may sour him against them to an extent injurious to his future safety and success. I must therefore my Dear nephew get you to place a rugilent eye over him, and should you discover any probability of his being injurious to the Institution or himself, that you will give me promply and confidently the information, that I may withdraw him without a public stigma, and save him from dismisal or expulsion. I see much folley and insubordination in the students ridiculous serenade, but I should think that censure or suspension, would be punisment enough for suchan offense. To dismiss or expell a young man from College is a punishment little short of the Penitentiary or death. It cuts off his future hopes of professional or literary attainments. Besides it is the deepest wound upon punctual hopes that can be endured.
I enlose you the Report of the select committee of the Abington rail road convention of which they did me the honor to make me President. Ileft all your numerous relations and connexions well. I was highly gratified at their success and prosperity. The only cause of distress seemed to be the ill health of my brother and this was aborted by the hope of his recovery from their recent information. Colo. Williams was to go on to the Tariff Convention in Phila. And desired to take his father with him about the ----.
Give my love to my neice and Sister Edmonia & her family and to ssuch of my relatives as think me worthy of an inquiry. My wife's health is obviously improving and my little daughters are hopeful and interesting girls.
With sincere and respectful affection
I am your uncle
James P. Preston
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