To those who, for altruistic reasons or for a pure wish for excitement, might decide to establish a university, would come all sorts of perplexing problems relative to the spiritual and academic welfare of the embryonic student body, but there would also arise questions regarding more intimately the welfare of that body itself.
Late in life, Thomas Jefferson decided to establish a university, and did so. The University of Virginia is a monument to this ambition. He spent his fortune lavishly on erection of buildings, selection of a capable faculty, and in attempting to make his university a true seat of newworld culture. But his solution of the food problem, of so much interest to the modern collegian, remains a secret. There is, on exhibition in the Treasure Room of Widener, a draft of a letter written by the Great Democrat to a friend concerning menus at the University.
The complete draft of the letter follows: Monticello, June 4'19.
In answer to your request to be informed of the particular style of dieting the, students which would be approved by the visitors of the University, I can only say that, the University not being yet in action, nor the Hotels for boarding houses in readiness which will be at their disposal, no style of dieting has been agreed upon: but if I may form a judgment from the conversations we have had on the subject, I think something like the following course will meet their approbation.
for breakfast, wheat or corn bread, at the choice of each particular, with butter, and milk, or Coffee-au-lait, at the choice of each, no meat.
for dinner, a soup, a dish of salt meat, a dish of fresh meat, & as great a variety of vegetables well cooked as you please.
for supper, corn or wheat bread at their choice, & milk or Coffee-au-lait, also at their choice, but no meat.
their drink at all times water, a young stomach needing no stimulating drinks, and the habit of using them being dangerous.