Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson

By Edwin S. Gaustad | Go to book overview

6
The Educator

"Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind
free …" (1786)

The quotation above, as was noted in Chapter 3, introduced the preamble to Jefferson's Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom. Those words, however, stood for more than that, since the sentiment they embodied undergirded Jefferson's whole approach to education at every level. Indeed, they may be fairly taken as the preamble to his entire adult life.

From the time that Jefferson entered the College of William and Mary in 1760, he never stopped thinking about education: his own, that of his friends and neighbors, that of his state and the nation as a whole. He thought about it as legislator and governor, as minister to France and as president; and in his old age at Monticello, the thoughts turned into obsessions. In all of this reflection and active pursuit, he also carefully considered the proper relationship between religion and education: not what had been, but what ought to be.

-147-

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Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xii
  • 1: The Anglican 1
  • 2: Student of the Enlightenment 16
  • 3: The Revolutionary 42
  • 4: The Statesman 77
  • 5: The Religious Reformer 111
  • 6: The Educator 147
  • 7: The Eternal Vigil 181
  • 8: A Religion for the People 210
  • A Note on the Sources 229
  • Index 241
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