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jeremyg
106 reviews
541 helpful votes
3/29/11

Yale Law School has put online an impressive archive of historical documents. If I had the time, I'd love to go through them all, but I have discovered one document I particularly love -- a letter from Thomas Jefferson to his young nephew:
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/let31.asp

The letter is fantastic (to me) because Jefferson seems to have tremendous affection toward the boy, but doesn't quite know how to show it. Jefferson's brilliance come across clearly in the letter but there is also an awkward didacticism, as he instructs the boy on how he ought to comport himself and what he ought to learn in what order. Jefferson also says amazing things like, "Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks."

Of particular use to me personally, Jefferson lists off precisely what the boy should read to be educated. I, having grown up in the underfunded California public school system, had nothing in the way of a classical education and have therefore set out to read the books Jefferson recommends in order. My friends [rightly] laugh at me, but I am delighted to report Oliver Goldsmith's Complete Grecian History was excellent (and only 99 cents on the Kindle!): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LISR2M/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title
I hope you enjoy the letter and the website as much as I do.

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