Somehow, everyone wants to claim my hometown’s founding father, Thomas Jefferson.  Jefferson was born on April 13,  1743 in Shadwell, Virginia.   Shadwell was actually a plantation.  It burned around 1770 and Jefferson moved to Monticello Mountain outside of Charlottesville.  He is truly Virginia’s native son. 

Jefferson is claimed by Democrats, libertarians  and Republicans alike.  Certainly the Jefferson Jackson Dinner Fling put on the Democrats each year speaks to their affinity for Jefferson.  The Tea Party people seem mighty fond of Jefferson also.  He was quoted all over the place today during the rallies.  Some quotes are included below. 

Jefferson was an inventor, an author, he wrote the Declaration of Independence, he was a farmer, a building, a statesman, an educator, a diplomat, a scientist, a musician, a visionary, a philosopher…the list goes on. He founded and built the University of Virginia towards the end of his life.  His ‘academical village’ is one of the top universities in the nation. 

You have to be doing something right when that many different people coming from that many points of view think you are a rock star.  Exactly what is it about Jefferson that people find so appealing?

Some quotes from Jefferson might help illustrate his popularity:

“A wise and frugal government – A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government…”

“On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already?”

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

“The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.”

“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”

16 Thoughts to “Thomas Jefferson is a Rock Star”

  1. marinm

    Bless you, Mr. Jefferson.

  2. Second-Alamo

    Reread the first Jefferson quote listed, and then think about what the current administration is doing by ‘spreading the wealth’ relative to that quote. Direct opposite I’d say!

  3. PWC Taxpayer

    There is a legend that says that whenever the President is confused and needs to seek advice on what to do, he simply needs to look out from the window of the Blue Room by the south portico of the Whites House and look directly into the eyes of Jefferson, standing resolute in his temple to representative government. It is pretty clear that Obama has not been doing that. Rather, he has surrounded himself with ‘friends” and others that in any previous administration could not have gotten sufficient security clearance to even be on the grounds. There is a very clear connection and affinity between Jefferson and Republicans, Independents and others and – until recently – the Democrats, but there is no connection between these folks and any of the principles or policies being pursued by Mr. Obama. It has been argued – reasonably – that Jefferson was an agnostic. But as we read today of the President’s expansion of executive power in his unilateral declaration of rights for gays under Medicare and Medicaid, he approaches the corruption of the law and the Congress — declaring law that is the rightful domain of the Congress. Who does he think he is? That is not a Jeffersonian act, who trusted in the power of the voter. Mr. Jefferson would have argued that there are moral standards to the acts of Government and to those qualified to serve in that Government.

  4. Need to Know

    Jefferson is one of the key founders of the modern-day Democratic Party as Lincoln is of the Republican Party. Both parties need to return to their roots and practice the values and ideas upon which they were founded. Both parties embody far too many opportunistic politicians who put their own careers ahead of their constituents, their communities, and their parties’ credibility.

    Money has always been the bane of democracy and the source of these problems. Politicians in both parties ally themselves with narrow, moneyed special interests that fund their elections. It’s like an arms race. As one candidate or party gets more money, the other must match it in order to be able to buy the media and resources to be competitive.
    This corruption of the democratic process leads to the situation we are in today. Locally, the development industry buys our BOCS and expects results at the expense of the broader community. Nationally, a broader range of moneyed special interests, including unions, have the same malevolent influence on the process.

    While we can’t control the campaign contributions, and the Supreme Court’s recent decision made the situation worse, we can, for most part, know where the money is coming from (Board of Elections filings and Many of us are already researching these records; including looking behind the myriad of LLCs and corporations the large donors try to hide behind. This information will be coming out as we get closer to the 2011 election.
    We can return our two great political parties to their traditional values and the visions people such as Jefferson and Lincoln had for them. However, it will require effort on the part of all of us, and for voters to pay more attention to facts rather than bombastic rhetoric and meaningless gestures before they cast their ballots.

  5. Need to Know, I enjoyed your thoughtful post, especially the part about money being the bane of a democracy.

    How many of those early families died almost penniless? Jefferson did Monticello was sold out of the family. Fortunately for us, it was bought by a Jewish military officer who highly respected Thomas Jefferson. The Levi family was able to preserve the historic home from total ruin.

    Madison died in debt. Dolly had to take charity during her later years, even after selling off James Madison’s papers and letters. All pictures of her as an older woman show her wearing the same black dress. (American Experience on Dolly Madison is fabulous)

    Even moving further in history, Mrs. Lincoln lived on the dole after her husband’s death.

  6. Need to Know

    Thanks Moon for your kind words. You are correct. The greatest of our leaders did not seek office for personal gain or power. Remember the risks they took (loss of home, property, family, life) and Lincoln, whom I regard as our greatest President, paid the ultimate price. They were all committed to a consistent set of values and ideas. Even more recently, Ronald Reagan fit that mold. I know he was well-off from his Hollywood days but he did not view politics as a route to personal power and wealth. I recall campaigning in the 70s and 80s and it was completely different then. People had values and believed in something. Also, I disagreed with liberals and Democrats but many were and still are my friends. Blue and red did not mean personal hatred. I’m speaking of how both sides behave now; not just one.

    Let’s get beyond the nonsense and think about what we are doing.

  7. There definitely is more animus now than there was back 20-30 years ago, both on a personal level and in Congress. People would fight like old grizzly bears and then go have a drink together.

    Of course back at the time our country was young, they went to the dueling field out in Bladensburg. So maybe we are just returning to our roots? I blame the presence of 24 hour cable news for the amount people are stirred up. I know I get foul if I keep the sound up on news all day long. Just a horrible mood overtakes me regarding all political. Along about 5 pm I could commit murder and laugh while doing it. 😉

  8. Dueling would actually increase the civility…..words would again have consequences.

  9. Censored bybvbl


    Whites House

    I’ll take that as a typo and not a Freudian slip.

  10. I will go fix it for him. Typo queen here.

    Cargo might be on to something. I would like to bring back buggy whipping upstarts in the town square.

    I grew up thinking the Mr. Jefferson was watching me. I was just as afraid as him as I was my great grandfather and God.

  11. Emma

    “Jefferson is claimed by Democrats, libertarians and Republicans alike.”

    Thanks for posting this thread, Moon. It made me nostalgic for times when I myself felt that no matter what my disagreement was with whatever administration/whichever party was in place, that I still felt a sense that we were all in this together. As much as I like to crack on Presidents Clinton and Carter (and I voted for Carter), they both had a way of connecting with the American people. At the end of the day, I never felt that people who shared my opinions were being demonized and marginalized by those in power during those years (although Clinton seemed to have joined in on the chorus today).

    I think that is my fundamental problem with President Obama and the Democrats in power now. Look how the President scoffed at his fellow Americans who demonstrated yesterday. Notice how much the press has zeroed in on a few unsubstantiated incidents to broad-brush an entire group of demonstrators as being racist, Tim McVeigh wannabees. Read the absolutely vicious commentary that follows online stories in the WaPo and the Potomac News, where the central theme of many posters is “I’m right, and you’re stupid and evil.” We’re learning from our leaders, who aren’t even being civil to US when we disagree with them. I really can’t remember a time where things were so completely polarized.

    People who know me know that although I lean conservative, some of my opinions fall all over the political spectrum–pro-life, anti-death penalty, pro gay marriage. So when I see reasonable, lawful protest so viciously attacked, when the media makes every effort to zero in on the most inarticulate, unattractive yahoos they can find, and make them seem as if they are representative of a whole group of conservatives, it’s an understatement to say that I get just a little bit resentful, and maybe even a little less willing to find things to like about politicians who seem be be ignoring my concerns.

  12. marinm

    Emma, well written.

    With Obama mocking the TEA party (they should be happy with tax cuts) I think history will remember that as his ‘let them eat cake’ moment.

  13. Wolverine

    It looks to me like the real mark of Jefferson’s greatness is that so many of us embrace his memory even to this day — for whatever personal reasons we may have. Jefferson was, in my opinion, truly our own “Man for All Seasons.”

    Moon — About Dolly Madison’s poverty. I recall reading an article somewhere that one of the reasons for her financial problems in later life was that her son was an immature fellow and a profligate gambler and spender. Apparently Dolly had to try to cover the debts he did not repay. That may be why she had to sell off Madison’s papers and letters. Curious as to whether that was mentioned in the American Experience episode.

    1. Yes it was mentioned and it was the main cause of her financial problems. She was an astute woman about everyone but her trifling son.

      I am not sure why Jefferson fell on hard times. I think he just didn’t have good money sense.

      Mrs. Lincoln? Not sure about that either. Woverine, You can watch American Experience on the computer.

      Not all are ready to watch but many are. The Dolly Madison was particularly good, other than I didn’t like the modern Dollys.

  14. You are more than welcome, Emma. I sort of got a lump in my throat over TJ when I did it. He just has mass appeal you don’t see today. Even John Paul II didn’t have the appeal TJ does and it has lasted how many years? He is probably far more popular today than he was back in the day. He was probably sort of an odd cluck back then.

    You know, I thought the Prez was trying to make a joke about the protestors. That just goes to show how different people interpret things. And remember, he wasn’t my first choice,….or really even my second.

    I first felt the real hate before Clinton was inaugurated. Even if you don’t remember …it was definitely there. I often wake up and wish I could spend a day without thinking about it.

    I grew up thinking that TJ was watching me though.

  15. There is an excellent virtual tour of Monticello at this site. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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