The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


On a private subscription of about fifty or sixty thousand dollars we began the establishment of what we called the Central College, about a mile from the village of Charlottesville and four miles from this place, and have made some progress in the buildings. The legislature at their last session took up the subject and passed an act establishing an University, endowing it for the present with an annuity of fifteen thousand dollars and directing commissioners to meet to recommend a site, a plan of buildings, the professorships necessary for teaching all the branches of science at this day deemed useful, etc.

The commissioners by a vote of sixteen for the Central College, two for a second place and three for a third adopted that for the site of the University. They approved by an unanimous vote the plan of building begun at that place, and agreed on such a distribution of the sciences as it was thought might bring them all within the competence of ten professors; and no doubt is entertained of a confirmation by the legislature at their meeting in December. The plan of building is not to erect one single magnificent building to contain everybody, and everything, but to make of it an academical village, in which every professor should have his separate house, containing his lecturing room with two, three or four rooms for his own accommodation according as he may have a family or no family, with kitchen, garden, etc., distinct dormitories for the students, not more than two in a room and separate boardinghouses for dieting them by private housekeepers. We concluded to employ no professor who is not of the first order of the science he professes, that when we can find such in our own country we shall prefer them and when we cannot we will procure them wherever else to be found.

to Nathaniel Bowditch, 26 October 1818