Thomas Jefferson- A Bad Alumnus

Thomas Jefferson is certainly one of the College of William and Mary’s most cherished alumni. If the University of Virginia prides itself on being the school that was founded by Jefferson, then William and Mary prides itself on being the institution that educated him. However, Jefferson shared little of the love that the college has professed for him over the years. In fact, Jefferson had almost nothing good to say about his alma mater for most of his life. Although he thrived under the tutelage of William and Mary professor William Small, Jefferson had nothing but contempt for the other members of the faculty and for the facilities themselves.[1] He described the Wren Building as a “rude, misshapen pile”, and disdained the city of Williamsburg, referring to it as “devilsburg” in his personal correspondence.[2] Indeed, except for a short period during which his friend George Wythe served as the dean of the school of law, Jefferson continued to denigrate William and Mary for most of his adult life, describing the College as an institution “just well enough endowed to draw out the miserable existence to which a miserable constitution has doomed it.”[3] By the 1810’s Jefferson had completely abandoned William and Mary as a failed institution, and instead began to focus on getting a new, modern, public university established in Charlottesville. However, Jefferson would take two actions in the 1810’s and 1820’s that brought the College to the brink of ruin. The first move was to secure a loan from the College that was worth almost a fifth of the College’s endowment. This loan, which allowed Jefferson to live comfortably in his old age and then was passed on to his grandson, was never collected upon by the College.[4] After a combination of this loan and the disastrous effects of the Panic of 1819 brought financial ruin to the College, Jefferson managed to destroy his alma mater even further. When College President Dr. John Augustine Smith attempted to have William and Mary moved to Richmond in 1824, Jefferson did everything  in his power to stop the move, eventually getting the Virginia General Assembly to force William and Mary to stay in Williamsburg, a place where there was no money and no students.  In other words, Jefferson grew rich off the College, and then doomed it to irrelevancy.

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Bulls, training, and interviews

It’s been a while since my last post and I’ve done a considerable amount of writing and documenting in a separate Word based “Spain Journal”, so much like last year, forgive me, Charles Center blog. I’ve got my “Writing a Paper” mix playing, so let’s see how this goes:

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