Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/539

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publican government, and to the true and genuine liberties of mankind, which thereafter are rarely overcome; for these reasons it has been my ardent wish to see a plan devised on a liberal scale, which would have a tendency to spread systematic ideas through all parts of this rising empire, thereby to do away local attachments and State prejudices, as far as the nature of things would, or indeed ought to admit, from our national councils. Looking anxiously forward to the accomplishment of so desirable an object as this is (in my estimation), my mind has not been able to contemplate any plan more likely to effect the measure, than the establishment of a University in a central part of the United States, to which the youths of fortune and talents from all parts thereof may be sent for the completion of their education, in all the branches of polite literature, in arts and science in acquiring knowledge in the principles of politics and good government, and as a matter of infinite importance in my judgment, by associating with each other and forming friendships in juvenile years, be enabled to free themselves in a proper degree from those local prejudices and habitual jealousies which have just been mentioned, and which, when carried to excess, are never-failing sources of disquietude to the public mind, and pregnant of mischievous consequences to this country. Under these impressions so fully dilated,

Item.—I give and bequeath in perpetuity, the fifty shares which I hold in the Potomac Company (under the aforesaid acts of the Legislature of Virginia) towards the endowment of a University, to be established within the limits of the District of Columbia, under the auspices of the general government, if that government should incline to extend a fostering hand towards it.

(Signed July 9, 1790.)

An analysis of this will shows that its author advocated the breaking down of local attachments and prejudices by stimulating a love for the nation and bringing together youths from all sections; that he wished to keep the young men in this country instead of encouraging them to go abroad—two propositions that are somewhat antagonistic, since the one seeks to broaden students by eliminating state lines, the other to keep them narrow by erecting national barriers. Furthermore, this eradicating of 'habitual jealousies' was to be accomplished by 'the establishment of a University in a central part of the United States,' and it will be noticed that later on, by implication, he defines this central part to be 'within the limits of the District of Columbia.' It therefore seems that the correct standpoint from which to appreciate the 'spirit of Washington' is the date when the 'District of Columbia' was the 'central part of the United States,' and the welfare of the nation depended upon isolation and intellectual training by domestic talent rather than foreign culture. At this date, what could have been Washington's ideal of a university course of study? Could it have been far beyond the curricula of the colleges then in existence? An examination of the courses of study at that time available would determine what a national university should offer unless it be asserted that this spirit, so frequently referred to, could grow with the country while the arguments for intellectual unification inwardly and insularity outwardly should continue in force.