link to U.Va. Library homepage James Madison, Unsung Hero of the University
  Madison as Protector of the University

The best service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty, is in diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation, and the enjoyment of the blessing.
J.M. to Littleton Dennis Teackle, 29 March 1826

Board of Visitors minute book, Special Collections, U.Va. LibraryAt the first meeting of the Board of Visitors following Jefferson's death on July 4, 1826, Madison was elected Rector. He struggled for the next eight years to hold the University together and maintain it in the character Jefferson gave it. He faced a hostile legislature in Richmond and faculty resignations, along with a myriad of other day-to-day administrative issues. Except for illness, he never missed meetings of the Board of Visitors or public examination periods, sometimes traveling from Montpelier to Charlottesville with his wife Dolley. Growing more feeble as the years passed, he postponed his resignation from the Board of Visitors, anxious that the step might be maliciously interpreted as a lack of concern for the University. By the time he retired as Rector in 1834, he was an invalid.

In the early years of the University when only one professor was appointed per subject area, a resignation could cause enrollment to drop disastrously. Among the letters documenting Madison's efforts to retain faculty and recruit distinguished professors is this description of his plea to the London University Council to postpone the departure of George Long, the first professor of ancient languages, who had resigned to take up a new position at London University.

Madison Home | Intro | Partner | Protector | Patron

Maintained by:
Library Home | Search the Library Web
Last Modified: Last modified:
© The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia