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VIRTUAL TALK: “Thomas Jefferson’s Education” with Alan Shaw Taylor
July 16 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
This beautifully written history about Thomas Jefferson’s campaign to save Virginia through education reveals the origins of a great university in the dilemmas of slavery. It also reveals a lot about Jefferson himself, who was never quite the egalitarian we wish him to be. Although he was devoted to educating his granddaughters and once proposed educating all white children in Virginia, he narrowed his goal to building an elite university. Jefferson believed that by educating the sons of Virginia’s wealthy planters, lawyers, and merchants, they would become an enlightened leadership, democratize the state and, in time, rid it of slavery. But the traditional vices of the Virginia gentry were hard to give up. Most students preferred to practice and defend them. After opening in 1825, the university nearly collapsed as unruly students abused one another, the enslaved servants, and the faculty. In the coming years, Virginia actually hardened its commitment to slavery. But, in the end, Jefferson’s granddaughters carried forward his faith in education by teaching a new generation–of women. Alan Taylor is the Thomas Jefferson Professor of History at the University of Virginia. The author of American Revolutions, The Internal Enemy, and other acclaimed works, has won the Pulitzer Prize in History. Twice.
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