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Category Archives: Education

Old McDonald had a farm. Part 2 of 2

… whenever the Indians come to Detroit on trade or other business, they encamp on or about this farm. this would give them opportunities of seeing their sons & daughters, & their advancement in the useful arts, of seeing & learning from example all the operations & process of a farm, and of always carrying home themselves some additional knolege of these things … & losing by degrees all other dependance for subsistence, they would deprecate [disapprove of] war with us as bringing certain destruction on their property, and would become a barrier for that distant & insulated post against the Indians beyond them.
To President James Madison, December 7, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders use every opportunity to teach.
The first post from this letter outlined Jefferson’s vision to use a government-owned farm near Detroit as a school for Indian girls and boys. The girls were to learn household arts, the boys farming. Both were to be taught to read and write.
A second purpose for this farm/school was to be an object lesson for other Indians. They were to camp on or near this farm when they came to Detroit. In doing so, they would see the advantages enjoyed by their children and take that knowledge home with them. In time, that knowledge would:
1. Help them be self-supporting on their own land
2. Lead them to give up warfare which could only end in their destruction
3. Become an object lesson themselves for tribes that lived further west and be a protective barrier for whites who lived to the east

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Director, The Leadership Academy, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
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Old McDonald had a farm. Part 1 of 2

On this farm we proposed to assemble the following establishments.
1. [a school for] … the care & instruction of Indian girls in carding, spinning, weaving, sewing, & the other houshold arts … [and] reading & writing … & that the benefits of the Institution should be extended to the boys also of the neighboring tribes, who were to be lodged, fed, & instructed there.
2. To establish there the farmer at present employed by the US to instruct those Indians in the use of the plough & other implements & practises of Agriculture, & in the general management of the farm … reading & writing were to be a secondary object.
3. To remove thither the Carpenter & Smith at present employed by the US. among the same Indians; with whom such of the boys as had a turn for it should work & learn their trades.
To President James Madison, December 7, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know education is the only path to lasting self-improvement.
This letter dealt with the government’s purchase of a farm just outside Detroit, a process begun at the very end of Jefferson’s Presidency, and what use should be made of it. He proposed three:
1. To educate Indian girls in “household arts” as well as reading and writing. Room, board and instruction were to be offered nearby Indian boys.
2. A U.S. employed farmer was to teach those boys farming and farm management.
3. The carpenter and blacksmith employed by the U.S. were to be removed and replaced with Indian boys who showed aptitude for those trades.

Young people learning practical arts for the household or farm, coupled with literacy, held the most promise for a different life, and a better one Jefferson believed, for native people.

“Your opening keynote presentation
had the audience spellbound …”
Program Chair, Missouri Organization for Clinical Laboratory Science
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Give him freedom and watch him closely!

J. Randolph now proceeds to Richmond in order to enter at mr Girardin’s academy … through a course of mathematics & Natural philosophy. the annual charges … 67. D. [$67] … [pay from] my account, & also for his board. I … have desired him to decide where he would rather [live] … I must pray you also to furnish Jefferson his other proper expences. he has been so correct in them heretofore as to give me strong confidence they will be reasonable with you. were any contrary indications to arise, I would sollicit your confidential communication of it to me that I may take such measures for his good as may in no wise commit you with him or any body.
To George Jefferson, October 31, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Clear-eyed leaders trust their proteges yet monitor their progress.
Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1792-1875), former President’s eldest grandson known as Jeff, had pursued his advanced education in Philadelphia and then Richmond. There, the grandfather enlisted his cousin and business agent to cover the 18 year-old’s tuition, room and board. The elder Jefferson had a preference for living quarters but left the choice to his grandson.

He also authorized funds for “his other proper expences,” i.e. spending money. The young man had been wise in handling money, and Grandfather had confidence that would continue. Yet, if his agent learned otherwise, Jefferson wanted to know confidentially. He would handle it with his grandson in such a manner that Jeff would not know the source of the report.

“Your presentation … your Jefferson presence … your smooth ability …
was just uncanny.”
President, Centralia Historical Society
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Do you want change back from your $90?

I recieved … [your letter that] you had … 90.D. [$90] recieved for me as rent for the salt-petre cave at the Natural bridge, and asking it as a donation for the female academy of that neighborhood. I have ever believed that the duty of contribution to charitable institutions would produce the greatest sum of good by every one’s devoting what they can spare to the institutions of their neighborhood, or in the vicinity of their property; because under the eye of their patrons they would be more faithfully conducted than at a distance from them … the applications to me from every part of the union being more than any income but that of the union, could supply. on this principle I am persuaded you will think twenty five Dollars a donation fully proportioned to my property in that quarter, giving this sum therefore to the institution there, I will thank you to remit the balance …
To William Carothers, September 7, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Charitable leaders give to charities wisely.
Caruthers, Jefferson’s agent in a western Virginia county where he owned property, held $90 rent owed to him. Caruthers asked if Jefferson would like to donate it to support a local school for girls. Jefferson’s reply:
1. Everyone had a duty to support charitable institutions to produce the greatest good for all.
2. Donations were best made to charities where donors lived or owned property, so they could carefully monitor its use.
3. He received more requests for donations than he could ever honor.
4. He would donate $25 to the school and wanted the remaining $65 sent to him.

He might have used his reasoning in #2 to decline any donation, because he lived 100 miles away, beyond any possible oversight. Yet he did own real estate in the vicinity, though he visited it rarely. He thought it more important to give than decline.

“The decision to bring Patrick Lee was a wise one.
His presentation was both credible and enlightening.”
CEO, Schoor DePalma Engineers and Consultants, Manalapan, NJ
Both credible and enlightening!
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What does a local library mean for US? Part 3 of 4

these should be such [books in your library] as would give them a general view of other history & particular view of that of their own country, a tolerable knolege of geography, the elements of Natural philosophy, of agriculture & mechanics. should your example lead to this, it will do great good.
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Educated leaders encourage foundational reading for all.
What types of books should be in a county library for circulating among its citizens?

  1. History in general, to know what preceded us on a global scale
  2. History in particular, that of the United States
  3. Basic geography, how the elements of our earth are represented
  4. Science (“Natural philosophy”)
  5. Agriculture, how we feed and clothe ourselves
  6. “Mechanics,” how things work

A basic knowledge in these six areas would be sufficient for citizens to know, respect and safeguard their rights as free Americans.

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Our members were thrilled.”
Executive Director, Florida Surveying and Mapping Society
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What does a local library mean for US? Part 2 of 4

I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expence than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county to consist of a few well chosen books, to be lent to the people of the county under such regulations as would secure their safe return in due time.
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Frugal leaders seek the most bang for the buck.
In the first excerpt from this letter, Jefferson explained the vital importance of an educated citizenry as essential to protecting their own rights. He supported any institution which furthered that end.

In this excerpt, he focused on the one institution which could best help accomplish that goal at the least expense, a library in every county. It could be small. It’s books should be well-chosen. It should lend those books to citizens and provide for their safe return.

“Our local government leaders were thrilled with your remarks,
as evidenced by the extended standing ovation you received at their conclusion.”

Executive Director, League of Wisconsin Cities
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What does a local library mean for US? Part 1 of 4

[Your letter] informs me of the establishment of the Westward mill library society, of it’s general views & progress. I always hear with pleasure of institutions for the promotion of knolege among my countrymen. the people of every country are the only safe guardians of their own rights, and are the only instruments which can be used for their destruction. and certainly they would never consent to be so used were they not decieved. to avoid this they should be instructed to a certain degree …
To John Wyche, May 19, 1809

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders always promote the broad education of their constitutents.
A portion of this letter was excerpted in a 2013 post. Since we are reviewing all of the significant correspondence of Jefferson’s first year of retirement, we will look at the entire letter, broken into four posts.

Wyche wrote at length to Jefferson about the formation of a library in Brunswick County, VA, on the VA/NC border, about 70 miles south of Richmond. Local citizens had adopted a constitution and pledged $10 each to acquire books. He was seeking the retired President’s “patronage.” He did not specify what that might be though financial support might have been a likely goal.

Jefferson opened with why he liked libraries. He supported any institution which promoted knowledge among his countrymen – schools, colleges, academic societies, even churches (to some degree). People were “the only safe guardians of their own rights,” and the only ones who could take them away. Protecting those rights and defeating those who would deny them required an educated citizenry. Libraries furthered that end.

“Your presentation, particularly your response to questions, was most impressive.”
For the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, New Orleans
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Not worth the paper they are written on

agreeable to my promise I now enclose a list of pamphlets, published whilst in Dublin—if you honour me with your Command for one or more of them I will instantly attend to it
To Thomas Jefferson from Patrick Byrne, May 23, 1805

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to mr Byrne & his thanks for the inclosed catalogue of pamphlets, which he now returns not finding any thing in it which he has occasion to call for. in truth political pamphlets are of so ephemeral an interest that their value passes almost with the moment which produces them.
To Patrick Byrne, May 31, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Discerning leaders know when to be dismissive.
Byrne was a Philadelphia book seller from whom Jefferson had bought numerous volumes. Apparently, Byrne also thought his patron would be interested in current political writings and sent him a list of pamphlets, hoping for another sale.

Jefferson said thanks but no thanks. The political thought represented in those pamphlets held no interest for him. Remember, Jefferson was a man interested in almost everything, so this dismissal is extraordinary.

He was very interested in classic political thought, ideas that stood the test of time, and possessed numerous books on the subject. That he had no interest in these may have meant they dealt with current political thought, i.e. what was popular or trendy or partisan. For him, any value evaporated as soon as they were printed.

“Enhancing this presentation is his animated and sincere delivery
that leaves his audience inspired and motivated.”
Executive Director, National Coal Transportation Association
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Be careful, or they will suck you dry. Be gracious, too.

I had the honor of transmiting to you (in June last,) a plan of the Female Humane Charity School of this City; and likewise, a list of Doners and Annual subscribers to the same. I now inclose a note of Bishop Carrolls, for your perusal—, Which you will please to return by the next Mail, with the list above mentioned.
Kezia Norris, Trustee, to Thomas Jefferson, October 19, 1801, Baltimore

I have duly recieved your favor covering a Note of Bishop Carroll’s which I now return according to your desire … [as President] I recieved applications from different parts of the Union for contributions to churches, colleges, schools, bridges, & other useful institutions. I yielded to them until they became so numerous… [that I must limit] myself to the one with which I was associated by situation. beyond this, all had their equal claims … [Giving to all was beyond] the means of any individual, I was obliged to adopt the latter as the only remaining rule of my conduct.
To Kezia Norris, October 20, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders limit the causes they support and compliment the rest.
Four months earlier, Mrs. Norris had solicited a contribution for her cause from the President with a sincere but almost manipulative appeal. She included a list of donors and wanted to put his name, as President, at the top of her list. Apparently, Jefferson had not responded. She now sent him a second request, upping the ante with an appeal from the Bishop who would head the school’s board of trustees.

Often generous, Jefferson declined her request, explaining he had been inundated with appeals. There were so many worthwhile causes that they were beyond any individual’s means to support. Thus, he had to limit himself to the causes he knew personally. He didn’t say so, but he was also leery of people, well-intentioned or otherwise, who might try to benefit from their association with him as President.

Practically always gracious, Jefferson complimented her cause, her zeal and the “wealth & public spirit of the city of Baltimore” which would support the school. He wished her every success.

“This letter is to recommend a both talented and fascinating performer –
Patrick Lee.”

Missouri Department of Conservation
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What is the best way to educate everyone?

… concerning the College of Wm. & Mary … [I] prepared three bills for the Revisal, proposing three distinct grades of education, reaching all classes. 1. Elementary schools for all children generally, rich and poor. 2. Colleges for a middle degree of instruction, calculated for the common purposes of life, and such as would be desirable for all who were in easy circumstances. And 3d. an ultimate grade for teaching the sciences generally, & in their highest degree.
Autobiography, 1821

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders will provide for an educated citizenry.
Jefferson proposed three education bills. The first of those three is described above, with three levels of instruction:

  1. Elementary schools for all children, regardless of circumstances – The curriculum would be what every person needed to know, how to read and write and perform basic arithmetic. These would be established in each county, within walking distance for each child.
  2. Colleges for advanced education and learning a specific skill – These would benefit those with the drive to get ahead and please those of financial means, for whom further education was a given. Colleges would be in 24 districts throughout the state, all within one day’s horse ride for the residents of the district.
  3. A university where the highest levels of the sciences would be taught

“All children generally” did not include slave children. It did include poor children and girls, both radical provisions in a time when only white males born to parents of means were educated.

More than 15 years passed before the Virginia legislature enacted only the elementary school provision. They then gutted its effectiveness by leaving it up to each county when to establish their own school. Jefferson’s vision was to establish them all at once.

“… what a magnificent and delightful job you did as President Thomas Jefferson …”
Chair, Substantive Program
11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judicial Conference
Mr. Jefferson will do a magnificent job for your audience, too!
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