Tag Archives: University of Virginia

Let us be smart about this. (5 of 7)

4. buildings. the greatest danger will be their over-building themselves, by attempting a large house in the beginning, sufficient to contain the whole institution. large houses are always ugly, inconvenient, exposed to the accident of fire, and bad in cases of infection. a plain small house for the school & lodging of each professor is best. these connected by covered ways out of which the rooms of the students should open would be best. these may then be built only as they shall be wanted. in fact an University should not be an house but a village. this will much lessen their first expences.
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders occasionally upset conventional thinking.
Building were the last of four specific areas requiring the University Visitors’ attention. A student of architecture and frugal with public funds, Thomas Jefferson had specific, counter-cultural thoughts:
No Big Buildings! Do not house professors, students and classrooms in one big, ugly, expensive, disease-incubating building, where a fire would wipe out the entire university.

Jefferson proposed one “plain small house for the school” itself and separate buildings to house each professor and students. Covered walkways would protect all as they moved from building to building. More structures could be added as the school grew, lessening expenses on the front end.

He proposed an academical “village.” It would be 20 years before the University of Virginia opened, but you can see Jefferson’s vision today in the original grounds of UVa.

“Thank you for  very excellent presentation.”
Executive Director, Associated General Contractors of Missouri.
Mr. Jefferson will make an excellent presentation for your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Let us get down to specifics. (4 of 7)

The charter being granted & the Visitors named, these become then the Agents as to every thing else. their first objects will be 1. the special location. 2. the institution of professorships. 3. the emploiment of their capital. 4. necessary buildings. a word on each…
Thomas Jefferson to Littleton W. Tazewell, January 5, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders provide guidelines then let the experts work.
Once the legislature had authorized a university in Virginia and painted its mission in broad strokes, specific planning would be turned over to gifted, knowledgeable and unpaid trustees, to be known as Visitors. As the legislature had four broad directives, the Visitors would have four narrow ones:
1.  A specific location – “needs no explanation,” he wrote.
2. Professors – He went into great detail, insisting on the best men to teach only the most useful sciences. They were to be multi-disciplinary scholars, so that each might teach several subjects, lessening the number required. Their salaries “should be very liberal.” This would bring the brightest scholars, give the university high status from the very beginning, and attract young men from all the states.
3. How to best use their endowment – Here Thomas Jefferson did something rare for him, deferring because “on this subject others are so much better judges than myself.”
4. The campus itself, the subject of the next post.

“…[you] received a very high score for speaker as well as content.
Out of a possible 5.0, you received 4.6 …”
Executive Director, Illinois Court Reporters Association
In both presentation and content,
Thomas Jefferson will score high with your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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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!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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What would I have done without you?

… But why afflict you with these details [about my dire financial difficulties]? Indeed, I cannot tell, unless pains are lessened by communication with a friend. The friendship which has subsisted between us, now half a century, and the harmony of our political principles and pursuits, have been sources of constant happiness to me through that long period … If ever the earth has beheld a system of administration conducted with a single and steadfast eye to the general interest and happiness of those committed to it … it is that to which our lives have been devoted. To myself you have been a pillar of support through life. Take care of me when dead, and be assured that I shall leave with you my last affections.
To James Madison, February 17, 1826

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Old leaders appreciate faithful friends.
The first portion of this letter dealt with the University of Virginia, the Legislature’s refusal to provide more funds for it and the qualifications needed in the school’s professor of law. From there, Jefferson turned to a summary of his overwhelming debt, reasons for it, and his hopes that a lottery for some of his Monticello lands might eliminate that debt and spare his home. (It did not.) Otherwise, he could be homeless, maybe lacking even ground for burial. It was a sad account.

He found some solace in sharing his difficulties with James Madison, his closest political ally and perhaps his best friend. They had labored together for a half century. He thanked Madison for his faithful friendship and support of the government they helped create, with a single-minded devotion “to the general interest and happiness” of all.


Jefferson knew the end was near and told his old friend so. Death came three and a half months later.

“Your characterization of Jefferson is wonderful …
It was a delight working with you from the moment of our first phone conversation … “
Conference Coordinator, Iowa League of Cities

Mr. Jefferson will delight your audience, too!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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Do you want fries with that?

Sir – In answer to your request to be informed of the particular style of dieting the students which would be approved by the visitors of the University … something like the following course will meet their approbation.

for breakfast. wheat or cornbread, at the choice of each particular, with butter, and milk, of Coffee-au-lait, at the choice of each, no meat.

for dinner. a soup, a dish of salt [preserved] meat, a dish of fresh meat, & as great a variety of vegetables well cooked as you please.

for supper. corn or wheat bread at their choice, & milk, or Coffee-au-lait, also at their choice, but no meat.

their drink at all times water, a young stomach needing no stimulating drinks, and the habit of using them being dangerous,

and I should recommend as late a dinner as the rules of their school will permit.
To Mr. Laport, June 4, 1819
From Koch & Peden’s Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson, P. 632

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Nutrition-minded, health-conscious leaders eat like this.
Mr. Laporte was to be in charge of one of the residential houses for students at the University of Virginia. He had asked Jefferson’s advice on meals for the young male students. Jefferson replied that since the University wasn’t open (it wouldn’t be until 1824), no plan had yet been established. Still, he thought these suggestions would meet the approval of the Board of Visitors.

Some interesting observations:
– Jefferson ate two meals a day, about 9 AM and 3:30 PM, with an evening snack. This plan mirrors his.
– Plenty of grains and vegetables, with meat at the mid-day meal only. This also was Jefferson’s diet. He ate many vegetables and fruit, little meat.
– Water only to drink. No alcohol. Jefferson allowed himself beer and cider (hardened?) with meals and wine in the evening, but such were not suited for teenage boys.
– Although the Visitors were to dictate the plan, he allowed for individual choices within that plan.

Jefferson ended his advice with one non-dietary guideline, “no game of chance to be permitted in the house.”

“City officials are a “tough crowd” and the ovation they gave you was well deserved.”
Executive Director, Missouri Municipal League

Thomas Jefferson hopes your audience is not a tough crowd,
but he will come prepared.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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