I congratulate you on the foundation thus laid for a general System of Education, and hope it presages a superstructure, worthy of the patriotic forecast which has commenced the Work. 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.
James Madison letter to Littleton Dennis Teackle, March 29, 1826; from the Madison Papers at the University of Virginia
No feature in the aspect of our Country is more gratifying, than the increase and variety of Institutions for educating the several ages and classes of the rising generation, and the meritorious patriotism which improving on their most improved forms extends the benefit of them to the sex heretofore, sharing too little of it. Considered as at once the fruits of our free System of Government, and the true means of sustaining and recommending it, such establishments are entitled to the best praise that can be offered.
James Madison letter to Gulian C. Verplanck, February 14, 1828; from the Madison Papers at the University of Virginia
Both quotes are contained in James Madison’s “Advice to My Country,” edited by David B. Mattern, University Press of Virginia, 1997