The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
Welcome Contents What's New Search this site
Visitors since 7/15/1998
Links Webrings Guest Book Contact Us
This site is eye friendly: Use your browser's view options to increase or decrease font size

The constitutional freedom of religion the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights.

THE WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON Definitive Edition CONTAINING HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY, NOTES ON VIRGINIA, PARLIAMENTARY MANUAL, OFFICIAL PAPERS, MESSAGES AND ADDRESSES, AND OTHER WRITINGS, OFFICIAL AND PRIVATE, NOW COLLECTED AND PUBLISHED IN THEIR ENTIRETY FOR THE FIRST TIME INCLUDING ALL OF THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS, DEPOSITED IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND PUBLISHED IN 1953 BY ORDER OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE OF CONGRESS WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS AND A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYTICAL INDEX ALBERT ELLERY BERGH EDITOR VOL. XIX.

[ Virginia Board of Visitors Minutes, 1819. ME 19:416 ]

http://www.constitution.org/tj/jeff19.txt

Virginia Board of Visitors Minutes, 1819. ME 19:416


At a meeting of the Visitors of the University of Virginia at the said University, on Monday, the 7th of October, 1822.

Present, Thomas Jefferson, rector, James Breckenridge, Joseph C. Cabell, John H. Cocke and James Madison.

[Excerpt]

Page: End of 413

In the same report of the commissioners of 1818 it was stated by them that "in conformity with the principles of constitution, which place all sects

414 Jefferson's Works

of religion on an equal footing, with the jealousies of the different sects, in guarding that equality from encroachment or surprise, and with the sentiments of the legislature in freedom of religion, manifested on former occasions, they had not proposed that any professorship of divinity should be established in the University; that provision, however, was made for giving instruction in the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages, the depositories of the originals, and of the earliest and most respected authorities of the faith of every sect, and for courses of ethical lectures, developing those moral obligations in which all sects agree. That, proceeding thus far, without offence to the constitution, they had left, at this point, to every sect to take into their own hands the office of further instruction in the peculiar tenet of each. "

It was not, however, to be understood that instruction in religious opinion and duties was meant to be precluded by the public authorities, as indifferent to the interests of society. On the contrary, the relations which exist between man and his Maker, and the duties resulting from those relations, are the most interesting and important to every human being, and the most incumbent on his study and investigation. The want of instruction in the various creeds of religious faith existing among our citizens presents, therefore, a chasm in a general institution of the useful sciences. But it was thought that this want, and the entrust-

Supplementary Manuscripts 415

ment to each society of instruction in its own doctrine, were evils of less danger than a permission to the public authorities to dictate modes or principles of religious instruction, or than opportunities furnished them by giving countenance or ascendancy to any one sect over another. A remedy, however, has been suggested of promising aspect, which, while it excludes the public authorities from the domain of religious freedom, will give to' the sectarian schools of divinity the full benefit the public provisions made for instruction in the other branches of science. These branches are equally necessary to the divine as to the other professional or civil characters, to enable them to fulfill the duties of their calling with understanding and usefulness. It has, therefore, been in contemplation, and suggested by some pious individuals, who perceive the advantages of associating other studies with those of religion, to establish their religious schools on the confines of the University, so as to give to their students ready and convenient access and attendance on the scientific lectures of the University; and to maintain, by that means, those destined for the religious professions on as high a standing of science, and of personal weight and respectability, as may be obtained by others from the benefits of the University: Such establishments would offer the further and greater advantage of enabling the students of the University to attend religious exercises with the professor of their par-

416 Jefferson's Works

ticular sect, either in the rooms of the building still to be erected, and destined to that purpose under impartial regulations, as proposed in the same report of the commissioners, or in the lecturing room of such professor. To such propositions the Visitors are disposed to lend a willing ear, and would think it their duty to give every encouragement, by assuring to those 'who might choose such a location for their schools, that the regulations of the University should be so modified and accommodated as to give every facility of access and attendance to their students, with such regulated use also as may be permitted to the other students, of the library which may hereafter be acquired, either by public or private munificence. But always understanding that these schools shall be independent of the University and of each other. Such an arrangement would complete the circle of the useful sciences embraced by this institution, and would fill the chasm now existing, on principles which would leave inviolate the constitutional freedom of religion, the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights, over which the people and authorities of this state, individually and publicly, have ever manifested the most watchful jealousy: and could this jealousy be now alarmed, in the opinion of the legislature, by what is here suggested, the idea will be relinquished on any surmise of disapprobation which they might think proper to express.

Supplementary Manuscripts 417

A committee of the Board was duly appointed to settle finally the accounts of all receipts and disbursements, from the commencement of the Central College to the entire completion of the four ranges of buildings of the University. They found it necessary to employ a skillful accountant to make up a complete set of books, in regular form, wherein all the accounts, general and particular, should be stated, so as that every dollar might be traced from its receipt to its ultimate expenditure, and the clearest view be thus exhibited of the faithful application of the moneys placed under the direction of the Board. This work has taken more time than expected; and although considerably advanced is not entirely completed. Until its completion, however, the committee cannot proceed on the final settlement with which they are charged. The bursar's accounts for the year preceding this date are rendered herewith; as are also the proctor's for the first six months; but his books and papers being necessarily in the hands of the accountant, his account for the last year could not as yet be prepared. The settlement by the committee, when made, will be transmitted as a supplementary document, to the Literary Board, as well as for its regular audit by their accountant, as to be laid before the legislature.

And the Board adjourned without day.

TH. JEFFERSON, ReCtOr.