Tag 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

“Your well-organized and well-researched approach
certainly enhanced our evening …”

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
Mr. Jefferson will hold your audience spellbound.
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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
Mr. Jefferson will impress your audience!
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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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Can stupid people write wise laws?

… it is generally true that that people will be happiest whose laws are best, and are best administered, and that laws will be wisely formed, and honestly administered, in proportion as those who form and administer them are wise and honest …
Preamble, A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge, 1778

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise and honest laws require a well-educated citizenry.
During America’s war for independence, Jefferson devoted much of his time to re-writing Virginia’s laws. This is one of his most famous, providing for publicly-funded education for boys AND girls. It called for a system of primary and grammar schools throughout the state, plus scholarships for advanced education for the best but most impoverished students.

What was the connection between education and wise laws with honest administrators? Elsewhere in the Preamble Jefferson asserts that the only way to have these kinds of laws, honestly and wisely administered, was to have a well-educated citizenry.

Jefferson promoted this cause for the rest of his life, almost half a century. He never saw it implemented to the degree he proposed in 1778.

”Your performances during our annual summer conference
were exactly what we needed to take it over the top.”
Director of Member Services & Education, Minnesota Rural Electric Association

Let Thomas Jefferson take your conference over the top.
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Teach! Teach! Teach! Teach! Teach!

Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.
To James Madison, December 20, 1787

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Confident leaders want well-educated followers.

This was a life-long theme for Jefferson. In his 30’s, he drafted legislation for taxpayer-funded education for boys ­and girls in Virginia. In his 70’s and early 80’s, he lead in the establishment of the University of Virginia. In-between and and for all ages, he promoted the cause of education.
Why? Because literate citizens who knew their history, could apply its lessons to present-day situations, who could understand the actions of their government and hold it accountable were America’s strongest defense against tyranny.
He was confident that the good sense of well-educated “common people” could be trusted.

“The great length that Patrick Lee went to ensure that Mr. Jefferson’s comments
were relevant to today’s officials was excellent.”
Executive Director, Township Officials of Illinois

Mr. Jefferson’s remarks will be relevant to your audience, too,
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Educate GIRLS, too? And at PUBLIC expense?!

About 20. years ago, I drew a bill for our legislature, which proposed to lay off every county into hundreds or townships of 5. or 6. miles square, in the centre of each of which was to be a free English school; the whole state was further laid off into 10. districts, in each of which was to be a college for teaching the languages, geography, surveying, and other useful things of that grade; and then a single University for the sciences. It was received with enthusiasm …
To Doctor Joseph Priestly, January 27, 1800

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Self-limiting leaders want well-educated constituents.
Jefferson believed an educated citizenry was essential for self-government and to maintain the republican (small r) principles on which the United States was established.
This was his “Bill for the General Diffusion of Knowledge,” radical for two reasons. First, it provided for education at PUBLIC expense, and second, it included both boys AND girls. This was in a time when the ones who received any kind of formal education were those born white, male and to parents of means, because all education was privately funded. (Though not spelled out in Jefferson’s legislation, the offer of universal, publicly-funded education did not extend to children of slaves.)
Education in the “English school” was for three years. Each school was to be located within walking distance of all the children in the county.
Ten grammar schools, referred to here as “a college,” were funded by private tuition, with one exception. The top male graduate of each “English school” whose parents lacked the means for further education would be given a scholarship to the grammar school. Each school was to be located within one day’s travel of the students’ homes.
The “University” was to have been the College of William and Mary. That education was also privately funded, but the need-based scholarship program continued even to this level.
The “enthusiasm” for Jefferson’s plan didn’t last. It was never adopted. Parts of it were later made optional on a county-by-county basis.
Politics (and religion) interfered with expanding William and Mary. Eventually, he would lead the University of Virginia into existence, fulfilling only the top tier of his plan.

“Mr. Lee’s re-enactment of Thomas Jefferson is educational,
informative, thought-provoking and entertaining …”

Program Coordinator, The Smithsonian Associates, Washington, D.C.
Would you like to teach, encourage, challenge and entertain your audience?
Mr. Jefferson stands ready to do that for you. Call 573-657-2739

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Are you too old to teach?

A part of my occupation, and by no means the least pleasing, is the direction of the studies of such young men as ask it. They place themselves in the neighboring village [Charlottesville], and have the use of my library and counsel, and make a part of my society. In advising the course of their reading, I endeavor to keep their attention fixed on the main objects of all science, the freedom and happiness of man. So that coming to bear a share in the councils and government of their country, they will ever keep in view the sole objects of all legitimate government …
To Thaddeus Koscuisko, February 26, 1810

Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P. 352

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Retired leaders can continue to mentor leaders-to-be.
A portion of this letter to the Polish-born soldier who had served America’s revolution was devoted to the nation’s defenses in the face of increasing British offenses on the high seas. Some detailed his post-retirement activities at age 66, no doubt to be the subject of another post or two. The portion excerpted here deals with one of those activities, one he found most satisfying.
To young men who would move nearby, Jefferson offered his library and advice, and welcomed them into the circle of his friends. He fully expected these protégés to become involved in government. He wanted them well-grounded in “the sole objects of all legitimate government.” That would include “the freedom and happiness of man.”

“I am pleased to give Patrick Lee my highest recommendation as a speaker.”
 Executive Director, Wyoming School Boards Association
Invite Patrick Lee (aka Th:Jefferson) to inspire your audience!
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What would turn you into a wolf?

Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you & I, & Congress & Assemblies, judges & governors shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor.
To Edward Carrington, Jan. 16, 1787

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Unrestrained leaders will turn into wolves.
Carrington was a contemporary of Jefferson’s, a fellow Virginian, serving in the Continental Congress in 1787. Jefferson referred earlier in this letter to the “tumults in America,” probably Shays’ Rebellion and the unease that uprising of Massachusetts farmers caused. (That rebellion spurred interest in a more effective national government and influenced the outcome of the Constitutional Convention later that year.)
From 3,500 miles away in France, Jefferson was not troubled by dissent in America. On the contrary, he reaffirmed his faith in the people, provided they were properly educated and given all the necessary information through the newspapers. (This letter also contains his famous phrase, “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”)
Jefferson calmed Carrington and encouraged his faith in a spirited and attentive public. He warned that “once they become inattentive,” all in authority, including himself, would become wolves, devouring the ignorant and uninformed. He saw that pattern in the nations of Europe, where the rich, controlling all the levers of government, preyed on the poor.

“I … express our sincere appreciation for your exceptional presentation …
Your portrayal of Thomas Jefferson was extremely well-received …”

Missouri Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
Let Mr. Jefferson inspire your audience!
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TOO MUCH for an 11 year old?

With respect to the distribution of your time the following is what I should approve.

  • from 8. to 10 o’clock practise music.
  • from 10. to 1. dance one day and draw another
  • from 1. to 2. draw on the day you dance, and write a letter the next day.
  • from 3. to 4. read French.
  • from 4. to 5. exercise yourself in music.
  • from 5. till bedtime read English, write &c.

… I expect you will write to me by every post. Inform me what books you read, what tunes you learn, and inclose me your best copy of every lesson in drawing. Write also one letter every week either to your aunt[s] … and always put the letter you so write under cover to me. Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word consider how it is spelt, and if you do not remember it, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well. I have placed my happiness on seeing you good and accomplished, and no distress which this world can now bring on me could equal that of your disappointing my hopes.
To Martha Jefferson, Nov. 28, 1783

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even wise leaders can expect too much!
Eleven year old Martha, Jefferson’s eldest of 3 girls, had been placed in the care of another woman while he was away in Congress, following the death of her mother a year before. The widowed father always put unrealistically high expectations on his children. Here, he dictates her school schedule from 8 AM until bedtime! His final sentence could seem suffocating.
Yet, Martha rose to the challenge. She probably did not follow this rigid schedule as a pre-teen but she lived her life with an intense devotion to her father. She was an extraordinarily accomplished woman. She was well-educated, raised 11 children, often by herself, and managed her household and sometimes her father’s. Her husband was a troubled man, and Martha received inconsistent support from him. That missing support came from her father, the one who had set such high standards for her as a child.

“It is amazing how the thoughts, words and events of over 200 years ago
transcend time and are as relevant today as they were then.”

Iowa League of Cities
Schedule Thomas Jefferson’s presentation to your audience today.
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