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 Lincoln Letter Does this cryptic letter reveal Abraham Lincoln's secret strategy for winning political power?
- Related Investigation N.E.A.R Device Was this device invented to help Americans believe they could survive a Soviet nuclear attack?
- Also with Wes Cowan Goering Gun Did this shotgun belong to Hitler's right hand man?
- 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 in Season 5 Bill Picket Saddle Did this saddle ride into cowboy history with one of rodeo's most daring innovators?
- Also with Wes Cowan John Brown Pike How did this metal blade spark violent tension between the North and the South?
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.