Thomas Jefferson’s Tears Touched The Rioting Students Hearts
In his retirement, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Because Jefferson trusted that students would take their studies seriously, the code of discipline was lax. Unfortunately, his trust proved misplaced when the misbehavior of students led to a riot in which professors who tried to restore order were attacked. The following day a meeting was held between the university’s board, of which Jefferson was a member, and the defiant students. Jefferson began by saying, “This is one of the most painful events of my life,” was overcome by emotion, and burst into tears. Another board member asked the rioters to come forward and give their names. Nearly every one did. Later, one of them said, “It was not Mr. Jefferson’s words, but it was his tears that broke us.” (Today in the Word, March 29, 1993).