RUSH COUNTY – A friend of mine sent me a provocative email a while ago that I’d like to share with you. I can’t verify that it’s all accurate, but even if it’s not, it probably should be. Anyway, it’s interesting reading. It’s about the life and sayings of our third president, Thomas Jefferson. I would attribute it to whoever compiled it, but there’s no one named to whom to attribute it to!
Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped. At 5, he began studying under his cousin’s tutor. At 9, he studied Latin, Greek and French. At 14, he studied classical literature and additional languages. At 16, he entered the College of William and Mary. At 19, he studied law for five years starting under George Wythe. At 23, he started his own law practice. At 25, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses. At 31, he wrote the widely circulated “Summary View of the Rights of British America,” and retired from his law practice. At 32, he was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. At 33, he wrote the Declaration of Independence. At 33, he took three years to revise Virginia’s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom. At 36, he was elected the second Governor of Virginia, succeeding Patrick Henry. At 40, he served in Congress for two years. At 41, he was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
At 46, he served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington. At 53, he served as Vice President and was elected President of the American Philosophical Society. At 55, he drafted the Kentucky Resolutions. At 57, he was elected the third president of the United States. At 60, he finalized the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation’s size from Napoleonic France. At 61, he was elected to a second term as President. At 65, he retired to Monticello. At 80, he helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine. At 81, he almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president. At 83, he died on the 50th Anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, the same day John Adams died.
Thomas Jefferson had studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history and the nature of man. He is a voice from the past that can help lead us now and in the future: Here’s what one president said about him: “John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: ‘This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House, with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.’”
What follows are some of Jefferson’s more famous quotations, (I can’t vouch for the accuracy of them all, but they’re still worth reading regardless of who said them.)
“When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.”
“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who will not.”
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which, if acted on, would save one-half the wars of the world.”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”
“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes, the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
There is no question that Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant man who lived in a time when this nation was blessed with a collection of brilliant men who believed in the novel idea of self-government, which had never been tried before. As I wrote earlier, I can’t promise that every word attributed to Jefferson is accurate, but they still are worth reading.
That’s —30— for this week.