Tag Archives: University

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!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
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Let us honor all teachers!

… respect and gratitude [are] due to those who devote their time and efforts to render the youths of every successive age fit governors for the next.
To Messrs. Hugh L White & Others, May 6, 1810

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Far-sighted leaders recognize the importance of teachers.
Mr. White and his associates were promoters of East Tennessee College. They had created a lottery to raise money and asked Jefferson if they might send him lottery tickets to sell to others. Jefferson declined for two reasons:
1. He didn’t get out much and would have no opportunity to sell them.
2. “And having myself made it a rule never to engage in a lottery or any other adventure of mere chance …,” he could not recommend it to others, no matter how noble the cause.

But it was a noble cause! He commended their efforts and concluded with this sentiment of praise for those who properly prepare young people for the future. An educated citizenry was essential for preserving the republic.

The majority of this letter was devoted to how a university campus should be arranged, the subject of an earlier post. It was the vision that became the University of Virginia, aka “the grounds.”

“Your ability to remain in character … your command of Mr. Jefferson’s persona and mind,
and your facility in answering complex questions were impressive.”

Chair, “Dinner with Thomas Jefferson,” Three Flags Festival, St. Louis

Mr. Jefferson will inspire, inform and encourage your audience.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739

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