6 Matching Annotations
  1. Nov 2017
    1. useful in so many callings

      For me it is satisfying to see Jefferson emphasize that the practicality of a topic is simply a happy coincidence of any subject, and not the fundamental reason for it being taught. There is very little mention of the need to make sure every subject matches some profession as one finds today, but instead there is a constant theme throughout of the subjects needing to be taught for the sheer knowledge itself. Joseph Snitzer

    2. mass of our citizens

      It's ironic that Jefferson uses this language since the universities of the time clearly were made for the wealthy landowners and not the masses. Additionally, the masses clearly does not include the native population since at other times in the document he ridicules them as fundamentally backwards. Either this shows an ignorance of the brutality of white wealthy rule over the country, or worse an inability to recognize the native population as being in the same species as the landowners Joseph Snitzer

  2. Oct 2017
    1. with awfull reverence

      This quote seems to point at a lot of Jeffersonian beliefs, most importantly a strong individualism, a belief in focusing on advancing towards a greater future, and an official form of secularism. To me this quote is quite sad as it seems to reek of pride and excessive notions of self-worth - the argument against this is that Jefferson is simply pointing out that blindly following tradition is regressive, but I think we see best why this is an unfortunate statement in how Jefferson describes the native population as being lesser humans because they continue their ancestor's practices. This is a very Western notion, to praise ingenuity and young striving individuals over the wisdom of elders, and to view with near pity the idea of following their way of life. This American notion is what has destroyed many cultures, such as the Ladakhi people who now send their children to Western schools where they are taught that farming is savage and that math and grammar prove one's superiority over others, which as a consequence has made the elders of the community feel inadequate and simply stupid. I wish Jefferson had a calmer and more respectful view of tradition and community, but he seems too full of pride and American Protestant virtues to be able to reconcile abstract ideals of progress with views of being at peace with nature.

    2. to return to the days of eating acorns and roots

      I think this line in particular proves the linear narrative Jefferson applies to his thinking, believing that history is constantly climbing towards more progress and never regressing. I feel like this is a statement that comes mainly from the fact that Jefferson was influenced by Enlightenment ideals and saw America as the shift from an ancien regime to one that is newer and therefore better. This narrative comes from post-Reformation views of history, and I think America's capitalistic drive too comes from this creatio ab nihilo view of productivity and human freedom and creativity driving future towards greater and greater progress. This metaphor is employed elsewhere in the text too, such as in the physicality of the university as being able to be expanded and built upon.

  3. Sep 2017
    1. What, but education, has advanced us beyond the condition of our indigenous neighbours? and what chains them to their present state of barbarism & wretchedness, but a besotted veneration for the supposed supe[r]lative wisdom of their fathers and the preposterous idea that they are to look backward for better things and not forward, longing, as it should seem, to return to the days of eating acorns and roots rather than indulge in the degeneracies of civilization

      Jefferson holds a strong vision for the future, which normally has positive qualities, such as the ability for the school to expand geographically and the idea of giving older students more liberty. However, in this section we see the negatives of this view, which is used to justify the way he looks down on Native Americans as too focused on the past and a fundamentally inferior people.

    2. wiser, happier or better than our forefathers were

      It may come as no surprise given the author of the text, but the tie that this sentence makes between the project for establishing the university and the start of the nation is clearly emphasized here. It is admirable that Jefferson felt that education was the route to a well functioning nation. jps2bd Sara Brickman, section 111