Posts tagged ‘rainy days’

Thomas Jefferson: Forgotten Legislator

Today has been pretty fascinating. Building off of what I had unearthed yesterday in a letter to TJ from Samuel Stanhope Smith in the second volume of the former’s papers, I had, I guess, re-discovered for myself that somewhere in the ginormous list of TJ’s life accomplishments that he once wrote a few bills for revamping the educational system of Virginia. I’m not sure that this tidbit in particular is part of the grade school history curriculum nowadays (or even in my day, some 15 years ago for that matter) but after I had realized this, a certain feeling of “Wow, how could you NOT know this?” came over me like a tsunami. I mean, I had worked pretty hard last semester on an entire presentation that speculated what TJ might have thought about the recent economic stimulus package (and going as far as to bring in copies of two of the bills from the Senate Printing Office to show the class just how big and nasty those puppies were at 400+ pages a pop) , and for me NOT to have remembered that he wrote some of his own legislation dealing with some economic matters in his day just kind of made me feel like there was egg all over my face.

However, this metaphorical (?) egg was quickly mopped up from my forehead as I had the victory of FINALLY stumbling across the text of his bill on revamping the College of William and Mary into a university (and also a few bits on revenue for the College). The endnotes to Mr. Smith’s letter pointed me to TJ’s Bill no. 79 in the appendix, so I quickly flipped a few hundred pages  to that bill first. This bill does allude to William and Mary becoming a university in an outline of the proposed educational system’s structure, however, no where in the text is the word “university” used. Nor does it mention other goodies such as making the College non-denominal or revamping the board of visitors as I had read that it did in other materials. Crap.

So after huffing about not finding any pot ‘o golden information at the end of that rainbow, my eyes suddenly darted to the next bill – no. 80, which is titled “A Bill for Amending the Constitution  of the College of William and Mary, and Substituting More Certain Revenues for Its Support”.  DING DING DING! I knew I had a winner, but I also felt like a total idiot for not noticing it earlier. Honestly, how can several modern scholarly articles mention one “act” or “bill”, all heralding about the same magic content, and then somehow I can’t find it? Wow. Don’t get me wrong though – I’m ecstatic that I did find it, but just a little disappointed that it was in a roundabout way.  I guess we all have our off days though. 😛

So I had finally found my pot o’ gold, and I’m currently pouring over it and gobbling up all of the glittering details. One thing that I’ve noticed is that TJ’s bills are almost like legislative poetry, giving the reader a synopsis of the College’s history and the major figures involved before getting to his point –

“And, whereas the experience of near an hundred years hath proved, that the said College, thus amply endowed by the public, hath not answered their expectations…”

OH SNAP! There he abruptly ends the serene poetry and throws down the gauntlet right in the College’s face for all of the state to read (well, had the printer actually printed and distributed the bill like he was supposed to, but that’s a different story). It is especially tasty to have read that considering that the governance of the College (the board of visitors, the rector, president, trustees?, even the archbishop of London, etc. etc.) had done almost nothing but bicker at each other since the first president, James Blair, had left; and since then there was A LOT of chaos and student (and sometimes even faculty) rioting that had been going on at the College even while TJ was studying there.

Thus, it has been speculated, based on what TJ has said in his Autobiography and in his letters (I currently have a migraine and thus can’t think of any specific letters in particular at the moment, but may come back to fix it later), that a good part of the reason he wanted to revamp William and Mary was because he had so much distaste for the chaos that had occured there in his day. Delicious.

Pictures of the Day (a twofah! :)) –

Today was a pretty rainy, stormy day.

Today was a pretty rainy, stormy day.

This cute lil' booger attacked my leg today when I was putting his bed to proper DDR usage.

This cute lil' booger attacked my leg today when I was putting his "bed" to proper DDR usage.


July 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm 2 comments

Amazing First Day and Richmond Airport Rainstorms

Today began with a whole lot of excitement when I bounded out of bed this morning in order to get ready for my first day at the internship. I was so excited and nervous about it that I was shaking for a good portion of the short commute. As I pulled into the white gates that lead to the library, I recalled the last time that I had driven past those gates two years ago while telling my father that someday I would study there. It felt amazing realizing that the day had finally come, and so much sooner than I had originally expected to boot! 🙂

I then entered the building to much surprise – it was very, very nice inside (and out!) and to be honest I originally had no idea what to expect. There was an elegant little entrance followed by a shared office to the left. Then directly ahead of me was a very nice exhibit on Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks and the medicinal plants that she may have used in her day.  I was then met and given a tour of the rest of the place by my supervisor Jack and was introduced to A TON of nice people who also work there. I had an amazing time, got my official Jefferson Library card, and checked out a few recommended reads that will help me in starting my research work.

I then unfortunately had to jet and take Scott to the Richmond airport to fly back home to Boston (ba dum ch). We arrived at the terminal with at least an hour or so to spare, so we just hung around and chatted until he had to get on the plane. When the time came, we said our goodbyes and off into airport security he went. I scuttled away as fast as I could to avoid tearing up, and luckily it worked as to avoid what would then be an inevitably blinding waterfall spouting from my tear ducts. However, the moment I reached my car in the parking garage, a nasty storm blew in, making the travel on I-64 miserable and somewhat similar to driving through a raging river.

I did brave the storm though, and made it back to Charlottesville in time to make some calls for various things like setting up my internet service. I then cooked a delicious meal of rice pilaf topped with pan-fried chicken in olive oil with onions and mushrooms, and I gobbled up every amazing bite. What a day.

Picture of the Day –

My new library card!

And also this is yesterday’s Picture of the day, which I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to post –

Went shopping Wednesday night for essentials like food, cleaning supplies, and paper towels. Photo by Scott Wilson.

May 28, 2009 at 3:03 am 1 comment

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