What were Jefferson’s studies at William and
Mary College?

Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Autobiography that, “…by going to the College I shall get a more Universal Acquaintance, which may hereafter be serviceable to me; and I suppose I can pursue my studies in the Greek and Latin as well there as here, and likewise learn something of the Mathematics.” The 1693 Charter of William and Mary College, granted by King William III and Queen Mary II of England, reads,… “to the end that the Church of Virginia may be furnished with a Seminary of Ministers of the Gospel, and that the Youth may be piously educated in Good Letters and Manners, and that the Christian Faith may be propagated amongst the Western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God…”

Jefferson lodged and boarded at the College in the building known today as the Sir Christopher Wren Building, attending communal meals in the Great Hall and morning and evening prayers in the Chapel. He was instructed in natural philosophy (physics, metaphysics, and mathematics) and moral philosophy (rhetoric, logic, and ethics). A keen and diligent student, he displayed an avid curiosity in all fields, and according to family tradition, he frequently studied fifteen hours a day. (Source: Original documentation, College of William and Mary).

To learn more, click here. (Founders’ book)

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