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 Tumbling Tumbleweeds Why would writing this song be bad for Bob Nolan?
- Also with Wes Cowan Chandler Tintype How did this Civil War era tintype help re-ignite a fiery debate about African Americans bearing arms for the confederacy?
- Also with Wes Cowan U.S.S Indianapolis Are these WWII souvenirs remnants from one of Japan’s famous kamikaze attacks?
- Also with Wes Cowan Ernie Pyle's Typewriter Did America’s most beloved battlefront correspondent bang out his dispatches on this Corona 3?
- Also in Expansion: 1801-1861 Lafitte's Spyglass Did this spyglass really belong to a fearless cutthroat pirate?
- Also in Season 5 Great Mexican War Posters Is this an advertisement for a film made by an eyewitness to the Mexican Revolution?
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.