Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Academical Village

"Jefferson's greatest architectural achievement was his 'academical village', the University of Virginia (1822-26), in Charlottesville. Here, he hoped that the elite necessary to Virignian democracy would be trained. We are apt to be hypocritical about elites today. We pretend mediocrity is democratic. Jefferson knew better. He was against the idea of an artificial aristocracy of birth, but passionately for the fostering of a 'natural aristocracy' of talent and virtue, without which democracy could not survive. Hence his concern with education. But he wanted that education to be secular, not religious - as the earlier Puritan foundations and schools in Massachusetts had been. His university would be dedicated, he said, to 'the illimitable freedom of the human mind,' without any input from religion. A pure expression of the Enlightenment." Robert Hughes, American Visions

What is more, Edgar Allen Poe was housed for a spell in room #13 of the West Range of Jefferson's Village.

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