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?
- History in general, to know what preceded us on a global scale
- History in particular, that of the United States
- Basic geography, how the elements of our earth are represented
- Science (“Natural philosophy”)
- Agriculture, how we feed and clothe ourselves
- “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.