Tag Archives: Universities

Duh! First things first! (3 of 7)

The first step in this business [creating a university in Virginia] will be for the legislature to pass an act of establishment, equivalent to a charter. this should deal in generals only. it’s provisions should go 1. to the object of the institution. 2. it’s location. 3. it’s endowment. 4. it’s Direction.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Far-sighted leaders build a strong foundation first.
These four broad principles, in this case for a new university, could guide the establishment of any grand new endeavor:
1. Object – Why are we doing this? ”for teaching the useful branches of science”, not something for everyone
2. Location – Where will we do this? “the …[ ge]neral position, within certain limits,” rather than a specific spot, allowing for local input and control
3. Endowment – How will we protect the funding source? “bank stock, or public stock … should be immediately converted into real estate,” an appreciating asset rather than a speculative one
4. Direction – Who will provide oversight?” “in the hands of Visitors.” No more than five curators or trustees, men “of real science,” not political appointees. They were to be unpaid, but of such significance as to be “properly rewarded by honor, not by money.”

“Even though there was no formal evaluation of the speakers,
many of the participants remarked on the value of Lee’s presentation.”

Executive Director, Greater St. Louis Federal Executive Board
Your audience members will value Mr. Jefferson’s presentation!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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I am happy to start with just half a loaf. (2 of 7)

this [securing our liberty] requires two grades of education. first some institution where science in all it’s branches is taught, and in the highest degree to which the human mind has carried it … secondly such a degree of learning given to every member of the society as will enable him to read, to judge & to vote understandingly on what is passing. this would be the object of township schools. I understand from your letter that the first of these only is under present contemplation. let us recieve with contentment what the legislature is now ready to give. the other branch will be incorporated into the system at some more favorable moment.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Practical leaders take what they can get gratefully and work for more later.
Responding to Tazewell’s inquiry about a university, Thomas Jefferson replied that a university alone wasn’t enough. It needed to be coupled with general education for all. Higher education in all the sciences was essential for preparing the gifted for leadership. General education was necessary, too, enabling all men “to read, to judge & to vote understandingly.”

Jefferson accepted willingly that the legislature was considering only higher education. It was an essential step in the right direction. He would welcome the addition of general education at a later time.

About 30 years before, Jefferson authored a “Bill for the General Diffusion of Knowledge” in Virginia. It proposed three years of free public education for all boys and girls, two additional levels of advanced, fee-based schooling, and a scholarship program for the brightest but poorest students. Of course, slave children were not considered, but his proposal was radical in a time when the only ones privileged to have any advanced education were those born male, white and to parents with the means to pay for it privately. His proposals were never completely adopted, but he lobbied for the cause for the remaining 50 years of his life.

“Mr. Patrick Lee did a wonderful job of portraying Thomas Jefferson…
[and]
tailored his presentation to fit in with our theme of “Exploring New Frontiers.” “
Executive Director, Missouri Independent Bankers Association
Mr. Jefferson will also tailor his remarks to your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Finally! Our liberty will be (partially) secured! (1 of 7)

Your favor of December [24. never] came to my hands till last night. it’s importance induces me to hasten the answer. no one can be more rejoiced at the information that the legislature of Virginia are likely at length to institute an University on a liberal plan. convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, & that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession, unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders understand the connection between education and freedom.
Tazewell (1774-1860), 31 years younger than Thomas Jefferson, was a Virginia lawyer, landowner and politician. He wrote that the Virginia legislature might be willing to consider some form of higher education in the state and wanted the President’s thoughts on “one great seminary of learning.”

Few things turned Jefferson’s crank in a good way more than the subject of education. He responded at length the very next day. Excerpts from his lengthy reply will comprise seven posts.

Only educated citizens who understood their liberty belonged to them as a natural right and not a privilege granted by their leaders would be able to keep that liberty secure. Otherwise, the freedom they now enjoyed would be a “short-lived possession.” A university would be an essential part of that education.

“I was especially impressed with the question and answer session …
and the ability to have a free-flowing exchange with an audience.”
Policy Director, Washington State Association of Counties
Mr. Jefferson enjoys interacting with his audience!
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