Interior of restored one-room schoolhouse, Beckley Coal Camp, WV
An institution “… based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind.” (Thomas Jefferson)

Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes … [1]

[1] From the preamble to “A Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge,” Papers of Thomas Jefferson 2:526-7, at