"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.