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.
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