John Colley, the creator of the original reading seminar at Darden posed this question to my class today, why doesn't John Adams have a monument? We had just finished reading John Adams in my Thomas Jefferson reading seminar. We talked of Adams independence, of his relationships with his wife Abigail (remarkable woman!) and Thomas Jefferson, of his presidency and finally the years after. The book we read gave me great respect for John Adams, but no one could conclusively answer why it is that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have monuments and John Adams does not. Some of our guesses were that Jefferson was a doer in contrast to Adams who was more of a caretaker. Adams' revolution was from the Stamp Act to 1776, whereas Jefferson's began in 1776 and included the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the University of Virginia, among other things. Another interesting fact I learned this week was that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Very eerie if you ask me!
One aspect of Darden that I love is that not every courses is function driven. The reading seminars were actually started 25 years ago by John Colley because someone had been asked in an interview what books they had written, to which they responded none. Initially, Professor Colley could not get the faculty to approve such a course, so 11 students took an independent study - read a book a week, wrote a paper about it and then discussed that book with the group for an hour. Since then, there are now three different reading seminars. The point of each is to discuss leadership and management in the context of the books we read. Each reading seminar has an annual capacity of 96 slots and is often full. We meet in groups of 12 to discuss the book assigned. Sometimes, we read a book in its entirety, often times, we read select chapters as designated by the professor (still totally 250+ pages per week). The difference between the traditional reading seminars and the TJ reading seminar is that the TJ seminar is held at the Colonnade Club on the Lawn of the main campus of UVa. Given the location, we are able to drink wine and eat cheese and crackers, as we discuss the book of the week.
I took the class as I felt that it would be a tragedy to leave Jefferson's university without knowing more about him and our Founding Fathers. I've succeeded in expanding my knowledge and would advocate people who are not history buffs to relearn the history of the United States. It is amazing what you fail to recall as the years pass.