tv Andrew O Shaughnessy The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind CSPAN September 7, 2022 9:56am-10:55am EDT
so that we have a way to recollect -- our spirits are with us all the time. spirits are not just pushed off to the side that they're actually with us. daily >> watch the rest of this lecture online by visiting c-span dot org slash history. search walter hood at the top of the page. nearly two decades before the official founding of the university of virginia thomas jefferson wrote to artist charles nearly two decades before the official founding of the university of virginia thomas
jefferson wrote to artist charles wellstone keel in january of 1820 -- i have for a considerable time been meditating a plan of a general university for the state of virginia. on the most extensive and liberal scale that our circumstances would call for. jefferson consider the university to be one of his three greatest achievements. with the declaration of independence and the virginia statute for religious freedom. in his post presidential years, he was able to devote him self to fulfilling the dream of an academical village. today, we'll hear from andrew j. osha honesty about jefferson's aspirations for his university. his book is a twin biography of jefferson retirement and of the university of virginia's first years. in seeking to understand figures from the past, the ability to read their own recorded thoughts is immensely valuable. today's author, andrew j. o'shaughnessy used founders online in researching this book. founders online, a website
hosted by the national archives, through the national historical publication records commission has transcriptions of thousands of documents written by and to the nation's founders. jefferson's letter to peel is easily accessible on founders online and that portal also gives us the context for the title of today's book. in an 1820 letter at the end of a proud description of the new university, jefferson told his correspondent this institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. for here, we're not afraid to fall of truth wherever it may lead. nor to tolerate any air or so long as reason is left free to combat it. of the robert h smith international center for jefferson studies. -- at monticello and saunders director theks include an empire divided, the american revolution. and the british caribbean.
and the man who lost america. joining him in conversation is -- professor of american history associate professor at the university of maryland. now let's hear from andrew sean to see an oily brewer let's thank you for joining us today. no >> hello everyone, thank you so much for coming. i think this is going to be a very fun conversation. and an important topic. it continues to be relevant and powerful. most particularly, the questions are about what is a legacy of the american revolution, what does it mean to have citizenship, especially in higher education. and how should we be reducing conflict versus realities in the complex atmosphere of -- but education is currently,
especially higher education, currently very strong -- to what extent has one universities that were founded in the wake of the revolution in particular, to an were they tainted or compromised by slavery, and those questions are particularly surrounded the university of maryland. as it nears its 200th anniversary. i guess it's just passed it, right? >> it is somewhat arbitrary. in 2019, they celebrated the year the bill was passed, in virginia. but in actual fact there's a rolling anniversary, so 2025 will be the bicentennial area of the very first students university. when it opened, its doors, i
should've had this book out for 2019. but they feel that it's still we -- to the bicentennial ray. i wrote it feeling that this is much more important than the university of virginia. its alumni in its students. i think there are lessons in this book and insights. that are relevant to any of its interest in our education, and education more generally. it's such a creative vision that it is useful to engage with, as we think today about the purpose of the university, and the role of the university. >> when i talk about education, the impact of revolution on education, i always emphasize to my students that there wasn't much public education
before the revolution. in massachusetts, a little bit of grammar school. especially aimed at the bible. but outside of massachusetts in a few other places, you would have to be wealthy to get in education, everything costs money. there was not much funding by the state. and that we should think of public education as the consequence, in part, of the revolution. although a hard-fought one. what is jefferson's role in pushing for education in virginia and generally? and what is its general impact on the american conversation with the revolution? >> there is really no other founder who is so engaged in the idea of creating a university. i see the american revolution really is the origin of that.
initially, interested in reforming -- but the university was just the apex of a much broader educational vision that i think is very remarkable. it took the form of a bill in 1779, the general diffusion of knowledge. but in virginia. and this would have really created the first public school system. as you rightly note. massachusetts and connecticut had a very high rates of literacy, large numbers and schools thanks to the puritans who had a congregation of presbyterian. 's who wanted to have a school in every town, so that peoples could really. but it was not an entirely systematic public school system. scotland for the same reasons as new england and connecticut,
pressure and some other countries, which were issuing decrees for public school education. but that was not realized in russia until the early 19th century. so jefferson's bill at had costs which would have given both boys and girls and education, for three years. a basic primary school education. and as he told a quaker abolitionist in the early 17 90s, the bill did not specifically exclude free african americans who were suspected, the way they've been interpreted by these -- would result in that. but it was very enlightened measure. to point out in this book, the
illimitable freedom of the human mind, which it was just out, i point out that there is a real difference between what he was doing and what pressure was doing. in pasha and these -- what are sometimes called enlightened despotism's, they were interested in strengthening the state by training the bureaucrats and government of functionaries. jefferson was as much interested in educating people to hold the government accountable, and he felt it essential to the survival of the republican system. in which he was paranoid and would be seen so today. he was very aware of the historic -- the doll republics had failed, virtual system that usually
resulted in the military coup, a civil war. and he sought education, as we still do to some extent, as -- against that. he was also interested in creating what he called a natural aristocracy, which was different from a european aristocracy. especially because it was based on merit and education, and the elite. and what he hoped was that they would go to one of these top universities, and that they would be, in terms of the time, virtuously put their self interest aside and look to the public good. but he was always quite cynical about that. hey insisted throughout his life that what was most important was actually the public school system, that it
would be better if you had two truths to have the population largely educated, rather than unjust. so, far from being utterly elitist, he recognizes the importance of education. it is ironic that he ended up just surveying the elites in curating the university. the fact is he tried several times, including 1817 1821. with very similar bills, to introduce public education. one of the reasons he kept claiming, and why he opposed the public education bill of political opponents, was that he was utterly opposed to any kind of religious education. teaching in the schools and he's actually mandated by
the virginia statute. he would not even have clergy teaching him in schools. at a time when education everywhere was dominated by different religious denominations. and we should give credit to the fact that the whole evolution of universities was due, initially, to the catholic church. the founders and expressions came, from the expression of the term -- where the wearing of, robs the degree ceremony, the laying of hands. these come from religious traditions. white >>. you've talked about a lot. but can i just pause for a minute? i wanted to remind you of a quote which you no doubt know, for more than a century before.
by sir william berkeley, governor of virginia. who, in answer to a question from the authorities in britain in england, said, i thank god there are no preschools nor printing. and i hope we shall not have these hundred years, the learning has brought just improvement and heresy into the world. and printing has evolved them, and libel against the brass that's government. god gave us from hope. what do you think jefferson would have had to say to berkeley? and you think some of that sentiment that berkley expressed existed in virginia later? >> i love that quote. it's one of my favorites. education essentially opens pandora's box, and leads to anarchy. and of course, jefferson would have imploded. he would have a border.
ironically, the university sports teams now, known as the cavaliers, were -- who fought against -- i've always seen it as almost subversive, by students of jefferson's ran ahead parliamentary vision. but you are quite right, it is a cavalier tradition which continues. ironically virginians like to think of themselves as the descendants of cavaliers, the descendants of english aristocrats. as opposed to the puritan -- heads in the north. because many of them went to massachusetts in a great migration in the 16 20s. they went to escape charles the first. and what is known as a period of personal rule.
the monarchy. and the virginia elite love to think of themselves as -- it is a small grain of truth, in the idea. even though many in fact were descended from indentured servants. and even convex. the only british law which to me you the americans was lowered fairfax. they actually used to own one of the most spends splendid castles. this castle in england which was not in the city, at least. it is much further. south, and has a moat. often used by tourist authorities. and they were the people who were the patrons of george washington. so there were enough real cavalier and some extent
entirely intellectual tradition. an anti-education remained. this was another reason why jefferson could not get his education bills passed. simply weren't willing to expend the -- and it became quite desperate by the early 90s, recognizing virginia was falling behind places like -- in massachusetts. and i think especially behind it education. >> i'm sure you know in the debates over the constitution for virginia in 1830, one of the worries, one of the main concerns expressed about opening suffering two white adults men was that they would all vote for public education. this was a problem in 1830 even then. when they had witnessed to pay
for it. but they were willing to fund at least in part these literary funds, with an annual payment of $2,000 a year. they were willing to fund this institution, for a university. but how productive within the american republic? in famous correspondent -- in a famous letter that you wrote to -- you talked about an aristocracy of -- and what did he mean by that and how what was your evening with adams about and how did that fit into -- >> they in many ways had different ideas of what an aristocracy -- john adams was always much more pessimistic. and felt that you would always get an aristocracy in society.
that may not have titles, that may not be in the context of a monarchy. that you would get these very wealthy people whose differences were at odds with the population. and he would pursue their self interest to the detriment of others and to the public good. jefferson's recognize the danger of -- was not entirely utopian. but he did believe that by having real competition in the university of virginia was supposed to be -- an examination system. little though he doesn't use the language of merit, which was one of my former colleagues here in university shows, it is a language that actually comes
in very much later. the whole notion of merit is complicated [interpreter] , not least because people have such different levels of opportunity based on their background, race and gender. but still, there is a notion with jefferson of not purely tourism, one of the most impressive features of his vision is that he does say that -- are capable of producing -- and if you want it scholarships at the university. so the poorest could potentially be part of the natural aristocracy. >> and that was, based in part, two, on his overall -- in public education, those who did well could be moved into
more -- could be pushing up the scale. so with that, where they're scholarships? what i remember reading in your book is that the tuition and that being higher than a lot of other colleges across the country. $74 a year, now. but of course that was not quite as cheap. do you think he actually work in the first few years to promote an aristocracy? or did it actually promote the more traditional wealthy hereditary leaders, who already started with their minister, as it were? >> like another great project, the declaration of independence, it was flawed. and as you said in your introduction, it was obviously, like all colleges in the south,
had some presence of slavery. and although he had wanted to have scholarships, they were not introduced until about 20 years later. and then, only a very few often. and critics of who there are many argue that actually, the number of scholarships contained built for the general diffusion of knowledge, these labor bills, was very very small. although they don't take into account political feasibility. we always hope that jefferson's absolutely stands, and we forget he was a politician. his bills don't necessarily represent what he would most like to do. the point is -- >> it's pushing their final form, right? >> the be a public university, and that there should be a
public school system. and it certainly represented a move in the right direction in terms of opportunities for the large populous. >> right. can we explore this question of slavery a little bit more? there have been several books and also a report that was generated by -- itself in 2018, here. i'm thinking about books by especially mcguinness and nelson, allen taylor's recent book. which have argued that we let's be honest, there was a whole lot of just plain celebration -- not much criticism about the connection with slavery, exploration of that topic. there was now at the university of virginia doing a committee of other universities, including my on the university of maryland. in exploring more some of the
connections to slavery. from the role that slaves paid in actually building the buildings. i remember seeing in the university of mississippi -- people left that print. from building the buildings to the fact that they were serving -- they were servants to some of the students and to the professors. they were enslaved. sometimes hired out. to the -- there has been this big exploration going, on and some pushback to almost that the reason for this value was to perpetuate slavery. can you talk about why you are opinion is about that? i read u.s. say that that was misleading, what the university of illinois was all about. can you explain that? >> yes.
i would say from the outset that most of these books came out during the bicentennial university of 2019. and were proceeded by traditional slavery. for the university. and they do represent very important corrective to early artwork. an acknowledging the presence of slavery. unbelievable, now, the earlier histories really just didn't discuss this feature of the university. or only tangentially. and i profited a lot from these books. and i incorporate their insights into information. where i disagree with them is where they have a causal role to slavery in jefferson's motivation to create university of virginia.
i could see why they do, it because jefferson is constantly talking about the major reasons, and how they have a university in -- virginia, so that our people will not go north. and be contaminated by what he calls the pointless idea. the problem with thinking that this is just code for slavery is that in the 17 1817 90s, when we first embarked on this -- to create a major university in virginia, basically to transform college, what divided the north and south most was not a debate on slavery. historic arguments even though during the prosecution this tablet was ongoing. it was, debate really, on how
one represented enslaved populations, in terms of electoral college votes and voting numbers of votes. in the south. with this historical dominant -- in the north and dominate the presidency. and the senate, much like the solid gain, we continue to play. but in terms of the real abolition, major abolitionist movement, it was very slow. it occurred after the american revolution. it was slow to rise. there were other major issues like the -- southerners really resented pay the tariff too important goods from england. because they imported so much. and it was protecting northern
manufacturers. the banking system and credit system, these were issues between the north and south. the real issue and they are real poison for jefferson was that firstly most of the education system and all of it in the north was dominated by its political opponents federally. and most of the educational system was also dominated by presbyterian's who had colleges themselves. a lot of them were created and set up by federalist presbyterian's. and certainly all of them were religious colleges, except for transylvania, university of carolina which experimented in secular education. but they do not continue it. and it is very interesting to
me that when he first mentions -- i don't think anybody else has made this, connection when he first mentions the name, the university of virginia, and his desire to create to the university, interestingly enough, for the unitarian british radical physical refugee joseph pressley, with whom we've been largely discussing religious ideas, it is to him that he says, he wants to found the university. it's the year 1800, the thing about is that he was engaged in the most brutal election presidential election, almost in their history. it compares very much, almost, to even the civil war. and one of the things that her to jefferson most was the attempt upon him, the accusations of being a radical,
of being an atheist. claims that he would make everyone saying -- a game. president in the french revolution. he bitterly resented these attacks. and some of the worst attacks, actually, came from presidents of northern universities, who were also at the same time clerics. that is the most -- spoken was timothy, dwight the president over the yale. he went far, in 1802, as telling his students that they should take an oath never to vote. for jefferson. he thought it was a real problem for the republic to be dominated by his opponents. because he believed only his
party was going to save america, and save the true tradition, in 1776. he thought that the federalists were going to turn the place into a monarchy, they would introduce real aristocracy. they would make america just satellite. >> so -- how do their aristocracy like in the senate? >> yes. and >> -- >> -- at that time. and in fact until 1980, nine astonishingly, it was a hereditary body. >> yes. >> and there were, some like john adams, -- [inaudible] so when you push this a little bit more on the question of slavery. i was just looking at some of the letters that are cited in that report since -- and by anna taylor, and by you,
such as a letter from thomas jefferson, in february 1821. it is a very famous letter in april 1820, both of which are -- in the introduction available in founders on line, where you can find those letters and read them for yourself. and it seems to me you are right that at least in the letter of 1821 jefferson does talk about northern seminaries being a problem. and essentially our son can in -- discord with our own country. but it is not at all clear that he necessarily means -- i think you can make an argument that he was worried that might become insurrectionists on the lines of leaders, insurrectionists that shows john -- when you read something like
his letter to john -- and so much of jefferson's other writing, he supports emancipation. i mean, he's worried and fearful of the possibility of an insurrection. in 1782 -- where he says in his nurse on the state of virginia, section on manners, but essentially god would side with the slaves. if there was an insurrection. because there's just a cause of -- really worried that that would happen. but on the other hand, over and over again he says that he supports gradual emancipation, especially -- colonization. can you talk a little bit more, i mean, i was stunned, especially what you found about him writing a letter saying that he would have supported -- you wish you conclude your support for a free black woman, educating them. is he just torn? where does he stand of this? with a wonderful discussion on
his correspondence with -- and others. where do you think he stands on this? >> let me begin with the first part. a big question. and instantly the national archives, the founders online, it is a mostly useful source. if any of our viewers today who come across a jefferson quote, if they are doubtful about her. if they just put it in google. then, it should immediately bring off one of the letters. and if it doesn't, then you're can be pretty sure it is wrong. or you can go on to the monticello dot org and find misquotes from jefferson. you are quite right. the letters you talked about the beginning or letters written at the height of the missouri crisis.
about whether to allow missouri into the union of free stage, in a slave state. or in some ways to have the real issue which seems to start splitting north and south. on the issue. of slavery. we talk about missouri. crisis of 1820, which continues until 1821. and jefferson rights for these bodies. seemingly very anxious letters to various people. some of the most famous phrases is that he says it is just like a -- in the night. and he does seem to envisage, possibly, the breakup of the union. what i would stress is that
these letters are written when the university is almost fully clicked, and when the university commission report makes the statements that jefferson, and the scott repeated in the guardian, and the atlantic, in the washington post. along with a number of the more polemical claims in that report, that it provided just good basic information. but supporting that contention, jefferson founded the university to protect and expand slavery. it gives this letter to -- which as you say by no means accent shows that -- indeed a very good historian
would argue that actually jefferson's writing breckenridge's political opponent, basically wanting to get his support for or maintaining funding at the university. and as soon as he got that money, suddenly he seemed -- missouri crisis and no longer to worry about it. but in terms of his general views on slavery and on race, and his views on race i think are even more indefensible. although they do reflect use common in both north and south at the time. nonetheless he does shift in his views, as is a sense of doubt and possibility.
it is interesting that he said he couldn't possibly have an intermix acai. and notes on virginia. and yet in the last month of his life, he signs a will freeing the remaining sons of sally hemings and also sends an appeal of a petition to the virginia legislature, saying they are allowed to remain in virginia and have the law insisting that free african americans leave the state, emancipate. it would be waived in their favor. there are levels on which they talk about the possibility of an equal intellectual ability. and acknowledges that our view, our lowest, it is based on
people who have never had that advantages, needed vantage, is i have that sense are not comparable. on the other hand he draws just dismiss benjamin bannock, or ultimately. and having been quite polite in his correspondence, vinocur was an african american mathematician who corresponded with him. and every african american and indies many modern historians would love to ask, how could you write all men are created equal, and yet, you know, you are honored down to make that more of a reality. >> great. >> -- someone else. helped banners ability even
suggesting that it was just his -- ng it. who made him look good, despite they felt that vinocur had worked on the design for d.c., building it. >> and the almanac, as well. >> yes. >> complicated -- he did send it to congress saying i don't think we needed that. but it was there among the records. the editor of the encyclopedia. it is interesting that he sent that. he did what he said. we indicates to me -- >> i see these often conflicted. >> i do as well. particularly in terms of his own -- it's like people. i always think it is important to emphasize that he inherited quite a lot of those -- from his father, not law, but
also a lot of debts. there were laws in virginia that said you had to -- before you could free people. so is a more complex situation than we -- but i would like to turn our attention to another issue that we looked at earlier in passing. and that is the religious issue. i wanted to, and dealing with this issue, not only think about why jefferson was so opposed to having a university that taught religion, as william mary had done, but why he cared so much about religion in general. when i talk about this with my students one of the things i say in the church of england which jefferson grew up with, is it ahead of that charge was a -- and every church service in every meeting of how services involved the undying allegiance
to a hereditary monarch. and this of course became a real issue with the revolution. the teachings of passive obedience are embedded. and yet to meet gets at the heart of two kinds of issues. one, and i was thinking maybe you could explain this a little bit, what is the purpose for the university? and one of them is that having university is a focus is not in fact compatible with teaching freedom or teaching independence or -- potentially. the other questions a question of governance. we can get to that one of the very. and if you want to say that. >> he saw political freedom and religious freedom as essential for intellectual freedom. his great fear with religious
colleges was not so much religion itself. he was claiming not to be an atheist. and to be religious. he said i am a question. the way that i understand this to essentially -- effects would be. atlanta most modern christians. because they did not believe in fundamentals like the trinity. but his great fear was actually denominational control. the individual religions like presbyterian is a, interestingly he was less fearful of the captors and the cape quakers, but they were not nearly as engage in the project of founding the colleges, the schools. presbyterian islam was very important because they believed and having an educated clergy. and the same is of course true
of the catholic church and the church of england. and he felt that firstly were such colleges were less open to new sources of information. and ideas. especially science. which to some extent was true and they were more concerned with tradition. and less concerned with facing knowledge, purely on demonstrate-able facts. and what we call empirical knowledge. and he also felt that they all have their own kinds of bigotry. which were groundless and based on miss ratings of the -- adding what he called the
creations to the bible. the year that the bill went through to find the university of virginia, then he started this remarkable project of -- and you can see the project in the library of congress, what people now call the jefferson bible. why is otherwise known and has the life and morals of jesus. this is a party as president where he would basically cut and paste the gospels, and remove every passage that he felt was false. anything that involved a miracle. and he basically reduced it down to the teachings of jesus, which was the name for it. and he did it in four different languages, columns side by side. you have to say that it was a
remarkable project. showing skill in languages. but what we would call hermeneutic's, we they had a text basically critically. >> right. i was fascinated by the discussion there. i written about -- walks last work was also a commentary on the bible, which was also a herman addiction some of the same ways. and it's really important to recognize, i think, some of the passages from the bible, as we interpret them in 18th century for example, or used to justify the hierarchy of slavery, it's not. trump especially passages from exam for example paul. and i noticed that in the jefferson it is completely emphasized paul, it is really actually when i looked up to this discussion, really fascinating. finally after just a few
minutes are to answer a few questions. but i wanted to push on something that i find fascinating. which he did not dwell on. but you do talk about. and that is, he gave up on william & mary because there were six factors and they all had some sort of religious background, as ministers. which had been a traditional purpose of education including -- what they had control over her next got hired. so we cannot feel like he could just -- fire the six faculty members, he had to rely on them to choose a replacement. and he didn't feel like he could get scientists and the medical school and law faculty and other things that he wanted. and that was why he gave up on william and mary. but obviously the new school
starting from scratch, the board of directors, the board of governors, which was supposed to be chosen by the legislature. i guess he had more -- to. thank you to the faculty members were. then the faculty members had a lot of authority. they were -- the way he describes it when you talk about this in the book is that the faculty members of the university of virginia are supposed to be the executive branch. and the -- board of directors, the board of governors, what's a call for easy again? board of governors? >> for the visitors. >> more the, visitors that was represent the legislature. so there are supposed to be a balance of power going, on but there is no space in the balance of power for administrators. and we live in a world now in the 20th century here in the university of maryland, where that we have no control over
which departments get lines, or where the money goes, it's lateral. it's all in the hand of administrators. i guess you could, say what we don't think about that. but more importantly, how has an initial vision of the faculty running their own school with advice from the university board, how does that change the retirement and you think that it is a good change? >> firstly, i think one of the reasons we have not fully recognized jefferson's extraordinary achievements and the novelty of a lot of what he did and how it impacted our education in america generally as we now take some of the key ideas like the university, elected university were students choose courses, we now take these for granted. what other ideas that he had, we have abandoned. and i would say the university of virginia has abandons one of
those faculty self governments. the university didn't have a president until 19 hundreds. so much of this first hundred years was actually with a chairman of the faculty running the university had a rotating in virginia. they made it automatic so -- so it became an elected system. but i think it is worth recognize saying that i cannot think of any state in any time period who spent so long thinking about the creation of a university. but jefferson, i don't have any other president was so
concerned about -- a lot of faculty today so discuss the test the man, and are so warned against, him because he wanted the faculty the university of virginia to be the best pay faculty in america. and they were at harvard. he designed the university course -- and he built a pavilion for the faculty i can assure you that any modern-day faculty members, they were -- often faculty accommodation, which think about it as wonderful. one of the few universities there still has a real faculty. governments as and cambridge where essentially the fellows of the college are largely self governing. the central university still
has quite a small administration. i personally always liked it because you were guaranteed having people with real academic values on the other hand people within oxford would criticize it all the time because it was somewhat like the running of america under the articles of confederation. just doing their own thing, it's difficult to get people on the same page and to get any central reform or changes. i think it was alex von humboldt who said that -- he was a great german education reformer, that having faculty running a university, this is a rather hierarchical european. it's like having animals run the zoo. >> well, i get that, but i
also think there should be checks and balances. i think we've lost some of the checks and balances nowadays. i'm just so interested in what you wrote about this governance. jefferson's view of proper governance in the university. can we talk just a little bit more about what was to be taught at the university of virginia? obviously, there were limits to what electives people could choose. and jefferson, as you point out, organized the library in a particular way to emphasize history and
philosophy. that is also law. and literature, or imagination. and that didn't seem to correspond exactly, from what i can see, about the courses that were supposed to be taught. he writes in the notes to the state of virginia to emphasize how important history is. and all of this was a big break away from what had been taught at older universities. not to put too fine a point upon it, but cambridge university, for example, just found one of newton's debates when he was in college, which was on the question of freewill versus divine control. so many of these major scientists were coming up, and how did the courses that were actually part of the university correspond to jefferson's ideas about history and literature? >> he was very innovative, both in the core structure and offerings, and also pedagogy and how those courses were taught. the very decision to call the university a university was a big one.,
there were very few places in america at the time called universities. somewhere like columbia was still known as a college. similarly, south carolina was south carolina college. it was difficult to keep using the original terms for readers. i sometimes deliberately transposed some of them in brackets. his idea of the university was it basically taught everything. it should be as universal in knowledge as possible. many people today tend to think of jefferson as someone who's pushing something like stem, science, technology, engineering, mathematics. and that actually is an error. what was innovative if he really wanted to teach people the pure
sciences. chemistry was often not being taught in other universities. this was one of the first universities to teach economics. but he also argued that learning anglo-saxon was essential. and spent a lot of time writing out the reading list for an anglo-saxon course. he believed in the teaching of modern languages. few universities taught modern languages. what was so distinct about him was he was breaking away from the old classical model. basically teaching the classics. only two years after jefferson died in 1828, yale issued a halt with anything coming from here was important. that was the most influential university in america, at the
time. yale basically said we should go back to the classics. yale, in practice, did start offering science. nevertheless, the scientists were segregated. they were put in a special place in chapel, rather made to feel inferior. that was not the case with jefferson. the word science in this period is used very broadly. it's more about a methodology. it is still a knowledge based on facts and observation. >> and experimentation. i was thinking a lot about about the medical school there, which became very prominent quickly, and was very important. and how it also illuminates both the inspired
and forward-looking nature of jefferson, but also the ways in which sometimes quietly, that became implicated with slavery and racism. one of the chapters in one of the books you are criticizing by mcguinness and nelson is about the operating theater. and the fact that for medical students to understand how the human body works, you need bodies, corpses. and how they were sometimes going and stealing the bodies of people who were recently buried in nearby plantations. would you
say that fact, the quiet way in which they became a part of this, the way that the lessons were done in fact the students were all white, would you say that captures some of the tensions and uva in the early 19th century on these questions? what would you add? >> it does. my problem with their work is there is no context. they don't look at other universities or colleges. i spent a great deal of time writing this book and reading about the history of education, more generally. if you look at using cadavers for medical experiments, this was a notorious operation. >> everywhere. >> throughout modern europe and america, and essentially it was always the poorest in society whose bodies were used. they might use homeless people. and there was a notorious trade, since very few people were willing to leave their bodies to medicine. there was a notorious trade in
body snatching. >> it's not just about slavery. it is tensions within medicine in modern science. that's interesting. okay, you know, i hate to end this conversation but we are out of time. just as i was saying that, we got a note here. so it's been so wonderful to talk to you. and i have so enjoyed reading your book. i have like three other things we could still talk about. >> there's a lot. >> hopefully we will continue that over coffee i hope other people buy it and enjoy reading your book. thank you so much. and thank you so much the national archives for having us.