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APR 4 1830




The Tknickerbocker Press, Aew York

Electrotyped and Printed by

G. P. Putnam's Sons

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ON one of the dark days of 1778, when the people of the United States were engaged in a portentous struggle with the British Crown, Thomas Jefferson arose in the Assembly of Virginia, and presented to his colleagues a carefully framed bill, designed to establish in Virginia public schools, and academies or colleges, and a university. He was a man of fair complexion. His hair was of a brownish cast. He stood about six feet two and a half inches in height. He might have been taken for a highly cultured Scotchman. Indeed not less than three of his instructors had been Scotchmen. In the year 1776 he had draughted the Declaration of American Independence, and had pledged his life, his fortune, and his honor to the maintenance of the principles which it contained. But as he stood before the Assembly, he realized that, however great might be the sacrifices made by the people of a republic to secure to their posterity the blessing of civil liberty, they must ultimately fail in doing X so, unless they made suitable provision for the public education of their youth. The importance of a good public-school system to a republic he laid before his colleagues with an earnestness that spoke eloquently of his devotion to the interests of civil liberty. Years afterwards, when he was the American Minister to France, alluding to his educational bill in a letter to Washington, he wrote, under date of January 4th, 1786: “I never saw

one received with more enthusiasm than that was, in the year 1778, by the House of Delegates, who ordered it printed. And it seemed afterwards, that nothing but the extreme distress of our resources prevented its being carried into execution, even during the war."

Jefferson during his long life filled many public positions. He was a member of the Legislature, and, during a critical period in the history of Virginia, the governor of his State. Before the Declaration of Independence, and again at a later period, he was a member of the Continental Congress. He lived at a time when the principles of government were studied to a very remarkable extent in America and in France. For a number of years, during the momentous period which ushered in the great French Revolution which ultimately convulsed the nations of Europe, he was the American Minister to France. For about four years he was Secretary of State, during the formative period of the government of the United States when Washington was President. For four years Jefferson was the Vice-President, and for eight years the President, of the United States. It is found by letters of Jefferson's, which were written to correspondents in different parts of the world, that his belief in the importance of public schools to republics was not a mere inspiration of a moment, but that during a long life he was animated with the same earnest, consistent, and noble desire to serve the cause of civil liberty in all parts of the world by helping in the great work of securing to youth the intelligence which he believed was the only safe basis for republican institutions.

I have been greatly aided, in writing this book, by facilities for study which I have enjoyed in the Astor Library, of New York. Often have I felt deeply grateful to the Astor family as I have thought of the magnificent

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