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.
- Related Investigation Red Cloud Letter How was a leader of the Lakota people connected with the controversial sculptor of Mount Rushmore?
- Also in Expansion: 1801-1861 Cherokee Bible What can this bible written in Cherokee tell us about one of the darkest chapters in Indian history?
- Related Investigation Creole Poems Does this manuscript contain words of love or illegal acts of rebellion?
- Also with Wes Cowan Superman Sketch Is this a WWII sketch from the early days of this comic icon?
- Also in Expansion: 1801-1861 Booth Letter Did the father of John Wilkes Booth threaten to assassinate the President?
- Also in Season 5 NC-4: First Across The Atlantic Is this piece of fabric a remnant from the first transatlantic flight?
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.