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Category: Vocabulary (page 1 of 2)

Vocab: peregrinations

As his family’s patriarch, Thomas Jefferson took personal interest in the education of his grandchildren:

[Jefferson] was not directly responsible for all the subsequent peregrinations of his grandson [Francis Eppes], but by the spring of 1816 he was fully recognized as the boy’s mentor.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 290.]

Whereas Jefferson is well known for his leadership in the founding of the University of Virginia, Francis Eppes’ championing of education led to the founding of Florida State University. Perhaps when they play football in Tallahassee on 11/19/2011, they should compete for a Jefferson-Eppes trophy and establish a family rivalry; as I am a Hokie, I do not know whether such a rivalry already exists.

From Dictionary.com: n. travel from one place to another, especially on foot.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading. These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: nunc dimittas

Related to pending legislation that Thomas Jefferson championed for public education in Virginia, he wrote to Joseph C. Cabell:

Pray drop me a line when any vote is passed which furnishes an indication of the success or failure of the general plan.  I have only this single anxiety in the world.  It is a bantling of forty years’ birth and nursing, and if I can once see it on its legs, I will sing with sincerity and pleasure my nunc dimittas.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 270.]

From The Free Dictionary:   n. A Christian canticle or hymn using the words of Simeon in Luke 2:29-32, beginning “Nunc dimittis servum tuum” (“Now lettest thou thy servant depart”).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sisooIhq94E]

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: encomium

After retirement, Thomas Jefferson engaged in the founding of the University of Virginia.  In a response to a letter from Jefferson explaining the planned innovations in education, John Adams expressed support.

To his encomium, [John Adams] added a grim prophecy: namely, that if there should be anything “quite original and very excellent” in the institution, deeply rooted prejudices would prevent it from lasting long.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 249.]

From Merriam-Webster online:  n. an expression of glowing and warmly enthusiastic praise.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: bantling

After retirement, Thomas Jefferson engaged in the founding of the University of Virginia.

Opposition to Central College [later to become the University of Virginia] and to Jefferson’s plans for it was to be expected from the Scotch-Irish of Staunton, who wanted to make that little city the capital of the state as well as the site of the University, and from the Presbyterians of Lexington, seat of Washington College, which would be the “bantling of the Federalists.”

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 249.]

From various sources:  n. a very young child; it is slang with a derogatory connotation, and may be derived from a German word for bastard.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: Carthago delenda est

In retirement, Thomas Jefferson advocated public education, which he viewed as a vehicle to democratize Virginia by creating smaller units of administration around the local school that would create experience with direct democracy like the town hall meetings of New England.   Related to his passion:

[Jefferson] said that as Cato ended every speech with the exhortation “Carthago delenda est,” he would end every opinion with the injunction “Divide the counties into wards.”

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 249.]

Definition from Wikipedia:

Carthago delenda est (English: “Carthage must be destroyed”) or the fuller Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam or also Ceterum autem censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam (English: “Furthermore, I think Carthage must be destroyed”) are Latin phrases, clarion calls in the Roman Republic which came in the latter years of the Punic Wars.

Although no ancient source gives the phrase exactly as it is usually quoted in modern times (either Carthago delenda est or the fuller Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam), something like this wording can be inferred from several ancient sources, which state that the Roman statesman Cato the Elder would always end his speeches with some variation of this expression even if he had not been discussing Carthage in the speech.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: expostulation

Following their terms as President, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams through their private correspondence demonstrated that shared values should supersede disputes over partisan disagreements.  In an exchange related to differentiating natural from artificial aristocracies:

Notwithstanding his qualifications, definitions, and expostulations, [John Adams] declared that he saw no disagreement between himself and Jefferson.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 240.]

Definition from Merriam-Webster online:  n. an act of earnest reasoning with a person for the purpose of dissuasion or remonstrance.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: entails

Following their terms as President, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams through their private correspondence demonstrated that shared values should supersede disputes over partisan disagreements.  In an exchange related to differentiating natural from artificial aristocracies:

[Thomas Jefferson] reminded [John Adams] of the law, fathered by [Jefferson], by means of which [Virginia] got rid of entails and primogeniture.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 239.]

Definition from Dictionary.com:  n. the act of limiting the passage of (a landed estate) to a specified line of heirs, so that it cannot be alienated, devised, or bequeathed.

Wikipedia describes:  “The purpose of an entail was to keep the land of a family intact in the main line of succession. The heir to an entailed estate could not sell the land, nor usually bequeath it to, for example, an illegitimate child. The complications arising from entails were an important factor in the life of many of the upper classes, especially from about the late 17th to the early 19th centuries, leaving many individuals wealthy in land but still heavily in debt.”

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: escheat

The following sentences reports on Virginia’s efforts to establish public financing of education during the early 18th century; such funds were to later be applied to support the establishment of the University of Virginia:

The Act of February 2, 1810, provided that all escheats, confiscations, fines (except militia fines), penalties, forfeitures, and derelict personal property accruing to the state be appropriated for encouragement of learning.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 236-7.]

Definition from Wikipedia:  “Escheat is a common law doctrine that operates to ensure that property is not left in limbo and ownerless. It originally referred to a number of situations where a legal interest in land was destroyed by operation of law…The term is often now applied to the transfer of the title to a person’s property to the state when the person dies intestate without any other person capable of taking the property as heir…In some jurisdictions, escheat can also occur when an entity (such as a bank) holds money or property (such as an account in that bank) and the property goes unclaimed. In many jurisdictions, if the owner cannot be located, such property can be revocably escheated to the government.”

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: contretemps

During a fictional conversion between the ghost of General George Washington and Thomas Fleming (the former President of the Society of American Historians), the historian asks the following, regarding General Mifflin (quartermaster) colluding with members of Congress to bring about Washington’s resignation:

How did you resolve that contretemps?

[emphasis added; Source: T. Fleming, “Channeling George Washington:  Illusions of Victory,” History News Network, 3/2/2010]

Definition from Dictionary.com:  n. an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: excrescence

The following sentences reports on Thomas Jefferson’s comment on a draft book by William Wirt (later U.S. Attorney General), titled Sketches of the Life of Patrick Henry:

They would appeal to the young, [Jefferson] said, but would be better liked by the old if some of their excrescences were removed. (emphasis added)

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 228.]

Definition from Dictionary.com:  n. an  abnormal  outgrowth,  usually  harmless,  on  an  animal  or  vegetable  body.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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