School’s Open!

Published:December 16, 2009 by Brendan Wolfe

The Rotunda, University of Virginia

In 1818 Thomas Jefferson declared the “objects” of an education at the University of Virginia. To wit:

To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business.

To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts, and accounts in writing.

To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties.

To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either.

To know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment.

And, in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.

For more primary documents related to Jefferson, see Lapham’s Quarterly, edited by the former Harper’s editor, Lewis Lapham.

Meanwhile, it bears mentioning that an inaugural member of the University of Virginia’s faculty, the academical village’s first chief administrator, Jefferson’s first biographer, as well as the author of one of the first novels of the U.S. South, one of the first science-fiction novels, and a four-volume history of the United States was George Tucker. He doesn’t get mentioned often enough, so I’ll mention him here.

IMAGE / PS: This view of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia is pulled from a Google Books announcement that the school’s library would be digitized. Bethany Poole, Google’s product marketing manager, writes: “As a U.Va. alumna, I’m excited to welcome the library Jefferson so carefully designed and cultivated to Google Book Search.” And as an alumna, Poole would also know that the library is named for Edwin Alderman, who, perhaps more than anyone, made the school’s world-class library possible.