- Oct 2017
The objects of this primary education determine its character & limits. These objects would be, To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business. To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express & preserve his ideas, his contracts & accounts in writing. To improve by reading, his morals and faculties. To understand his duties to his neighbours, & country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either. To know his rights; to exercise with order & justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciaries of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence with candor & judgment. And, in general, to observe with intelligence & faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.
As a contrapoint (not counterpoint) to all the annotations that (correctly) point out that the founders of the University were sexist racists, I would to praise those founders for the otherwise excellent job they did coming up with plans, goals, and ideals for the University (this praise in addition to the condemnation for their sexism and racism). Aside from the fact that these plans would have been much better (and less hypocritical) if they had included women and those of other ethnicities/races, they were themselves very good plans. I would even say the goals and ideals are better than our current societal goals for education. Nowadays, paradoxically, society teaches that there is no absolute truth (which is itself an absolute statement); then it still supports all the truths taught in schools and universities. this makes no sense. Why say there is no truth and otherwise confirm that you think there is? The University founders laid down a well-thought-out plan whose aim was the betterment of society. Yes, they could have done better, but they did not do all bad. [source: we all wanted to come to UVA; this place is not terrible in its essence.] It's great that we're acknowledging the evils of our past and the sins of our forefathers, but we should not at that time also throw out all the good things they did. Implying or insinuating that the University founders don't deserve to have their whole story told, just because they were white men, is just as racist and sexist as they were.
As supplement, please check out this TED talk about "The danger of a single story."
These are the objects of that higher grade of education, the benefits & blessings of which the legislature now propose to provide for the good & ornament of their country the gratification & happiness of their fellow citizens, of the parent especially & his progeny on which all his affections are concentrated.
All everyone seems to be able to talk about is how sexist and racist the University founders were. They are right, of course; but keep in mind that everyone was back then. It's a terrible truth about our past; as a white male myself, I'm ashamed of these aspects of these people and the society at large at that time. However this is only one side of the story. Here's a link to a TED talk my RA showed me and my suite about "The Danger of a Single Story." There are more things these people were than racists and sexists. There are more things these people did than racist and sexist discrimination. In my opinion, they did a fantastic job coming up with the plans, goals, and ideals for the University. Yes, they excluded women and those of other races. But, otherwise, their plans were very well thought out, and for the good of everyone (at least what they thought of as everyone) in society. Their ideals and goals are frankly probably a lot better than current cultural goals and ideals for higher education. Currently all society seems to care about are diversity, inclusion, and the idea that there is no absolute truth. Those first two are well and good, but the last makes no sense, especially because it itself is and absolute statement so it automatically disproves itself. A better goal would be to actually search for truth itself and to not say that everyone can define their own truth, because that goes against the definition of truth as "reality." You can't just decide that reality is different than it is and have it be so. Tangent aside, the University founders were trying to improve and give benefits to society. Yes, those benefits were not extended directly to everyone, but that does not mean they were purely evil sexist racists. They were sexist racists, but that wasn't all they were. They also did a lot of good. Please consider both sides of the story, and try your best to leave your modern and political biases at the door when examining and discussing a historical document. Thanks!