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Thomas Jefferson - A Character Sketch
Educating American Boys Abroad
by Ellis, Edward S. (A.M.)

Mr. Jefferson was a strong opponent of the practice of sending boys abroad to be educated. He says:

"The boy sent to Europe acquires a fondness for European luxury and dissipation, and a contempt for the simplicity of his own country.

"He is fascinated with the privileges of the European aristocrats, and sees with abhorrence the lovely equality which the poor enjoy with the rich in his own country.

"He contracts a partiality for aristocracy or monarchy.

"He forms foreign friendships which will never be useful to him.

"He loses the seasons of life for forming in his own country those friendships which of all others are the most faithful and permanent.

"He returns to his own country a foreigner, unacquainted with the practices of domestic economy necessary to preserve him from ruin.

"He speaks and writes his native tongue as a foreigner, and is therefore unqualified to obtain those distinctions which eloquence of the tongue and pen insures in a free country.

"It appears to me then that an American going to Europe for education loses in his knowledge, in his morals, in his health, in his habits and in his happiness."

These utterances of Jefferson apply of course only to boys in the formative period of their lives, and not to mature students who go abroad for higher culture.


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