In a forgotten corner of The Washington D.C. Public Library, a photo archivist has discovered what may be a momentous piece of history.
It’s a list of signatures from public figures of the early 1800’s, including President Thomas Jefferson, offering their own money for a seemingly humble proposal: to build a simple pair of elementary schools. But Jefferson’s ultimate goal, we learn, is far loftier. With this venture, he is quietly floating his plan to launch the nation’s first public school system.
Eventually he would go broke through such acts of charity, but Jefferson’s ideals of public education would transform the nation. Could it all have begun with a modest $200 pledge?
History Detectives investigates the beginnings of public education in the United States.
- Also with Wes Cowan Civil War Sabotage? The steamship Sultana exploded one night in 1865, killing more than 1,800 people. Was the disaster a result of Civil War sabotage?
- Also with Wes Cowan Chinese Poems Who were the authors of the poems describing bitterness and misery on the Angel Island detention center walls?
- Related Investigation 1775 Almanac What do these crumbling pages reveal about divided loyalties during the American Revolution?
- Also with Wes Cowan Lawrence Billy Club Was this truncheon used in the famous Bread and Roses labor strike?
- Related Investigation Calhoun Books Are these the books of the famed intellectual architect of the Confederacy?
- Also in Expansion: 1801-1861 Quaker Map Did this faded map once guide slaves to freedom on the underground railroad?
This is a place for opinions, comments, questions and discussion; a place where viewers of History Detectives can express their points of view and connect with others who value history. We ask that posters be polite and respectful of all opinions. History Detectives reserves the right to delete comments that don’t conform to this conduct. We will not respond to every post, but will do our best to answer specific questions, or address an error.