Friday, November 11, 2016

Thomas Jefferson

It is two years later after my post about John Adams who was interpreted at the Nov 2014 Colonial Dames fundraiser at Guyan Country Club.  This year the event was held at Edgewood Country Club in Charleston.  And this year Steven Edenbo "brought Thomas Jefferson to life"

What a wonderful program!  I wish that I could listen to something as educational and inspiring EVERY week!  So start by visiting my blog post that I wrote after the John Adams event two years ago:

The background that was presented by John Adams is quite helpful in understanding what Thomas Jefferson is saying.

Thomas Jefferson started his presentation by kind of doing a mumbling beginning.  He seemed to be trying to point out that the original Thomas Jefferson was not an accomplished speaker.  He actually said that Thomas Jefferson's inaugural address was heard by only a few people sitting in the first rows of the Senate chambers......however, there was a printed version that was passed out as the men exited the doors.  And that the address was printed in MANY languages because the ideas presented were so innovative.  But I am getting ahead of the story....

Much of the first part of the talk told about the ugly election process that had taken place in the fall before this inauguration.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had been great friends.  By the end of the process leading to the election they were at such odds that they never spoke to each other again.  (later Thomas Jefferson explained that they did indeed become friends years later and spent many years exchanging letters about everything from gardening to politics.....but they were never to actually be together again in person).  These are the two men who died on the very same day:  4th of July in 1826....the date of the celebration of 50 years since:

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its king. July 4th, 1776.

I wish that I had the energy to repeat all that our wonderful Thomas Jefferson explained about this election.  However, I do not.  I will content myself with adding a few links to remind myself of some of what he said:

The link below is the only one that takes the reader to the mentioned the name of the representative from Delaware,  Federalist James A. Bayard, Delaware’s only representative in the House.  The information about this is MOST interesting in this article.  The information about Bayard is in fact #11:

If I were to condense what I believe that I heard, I would say that after an ugly election, there was no clear winner.  When George Washington had been president, there was only one party.  He was the clear majority winner.  During the presidency of John Adams, two parties had evolved.  John Adams was a Federalist who believed in strong central government.  Thomas Jefferson had shifted away from this belief and felt that John Adams and the Federalists were wrong.  He believed in States having strong control over their own constituents.  They hadn't quite settled on a name for this new party.  But it was some sort of combination of Republican and Democrat.  While the House of Representatives and Senate were voting every day, every day produced a stalemate.  More than one state had raised a militia to march on Washington, DC if the Federalists won.  It looked as if there could be Civil War at any minute.  And this was what people all over the world were used to!  Uprisings every time a government changed hands.  But Thomas Jefferson felt strongly about that as well.  And when finally Bayard abstained from voting and a couple of other states who had representatives who were Federalist did the same, Thomas was officially president.  His inaugural address made it clear that he did not plan to ride the other politicians out of town on a rail...nor punish them for their ideas....nor incite any sort of an uproar.  Instead he felt strongly that it was important that the ideas that didn't agree with him were important.  That it was GOOD to have opposing philosophies to help keep those in power honest and also to help keep them from the temptation of too much power.  It is hard for us to believe today that this was a NEW concept.  That before this date and this speech every time there was a political upheaval it was accompanied by strife, bloodshed, chaos.  That is why Thomas Jefferson's speech was translated for readers all over the world to read!  He had changed the face of politics forever.

My other favorite remarks of the day included:

The Missouri Compromise of 1820.  The Missouri Compromise was about slavery.  Thomas Jefferson's remark was this WAS NOT a compromise!  In a real compromise both sides give up something and reach a middle agreement in which no one is really happy, but there is an agreement.  That if anyone is happy with a compromise, it is NOT a compromise....someone has won.  In this Missouri Compromise, everyone just agreed to stay in their own arena with their own beliefs thus eventually leading to the split between the two factions which happened with the outbreak of the Civil War.  Missouri joined the Union as a slave state while Maine was admitted as a free state.

In the years leading up to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, tensions began to rise between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions within the U.S. Congress and across the country. They reached a boiling point after Missouri’s 1819 request for admission to the Union as a slave state, which threatened to upset the delicate balance between slave states and free states. To keep the peace, Congress orchestrated a two-part compromise, granting Missouri’s request but also admitting Maine as a free state. It also passed an amendment that drew an imaginary line across the former Louisiana Territory, establishing a boundary between free and slave regions that remained the law of the land until it was negated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.
Then in the final parts of the presentation, Thomas Jefferson explained that when he left the office of President, he was greatly relieved to give up the responsibilities of the office.  And then he spent time admonishing all of the audience to never make it easy on those they elect.  To constantly hound their elected servants to do right and not to yield to the temptation of power.
And one of my favorite ideas put forth was that any generation that decides to participate in war, needs to tax itself to pay for that war.  They should not put the expense of war on the next generation.  Thomas Jefferson was very unhappy about the great amount of debt that the new nation had amassed with the Revolutionary War.  Much of what he was doing in Europe in the early days of our new nation's history was trying to finance loans just to pay the interest on the debts that had accumulated.
And finally the words that Jefferson himself chose as the three things he wished to be remembered for :
The brief inscription his tombstone bears, written by Jefferson himself, is as noteworthy for what it excludes as what it includes. The inscription suggests Jefferson's humility as well as his belief that his greatest gifts to posterity came in the realm of ideas rather than the realm of politics: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and father of the University Of Virginia."

Ok....I have a few more things that I want to add because I don't want to loose the ideas.  Apparently John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson were cousins.  I am googling tonight trying to figure out what their connection involved.  I have a few URLs that I want to add: looks as if it is a distant relationship through the Randolph family:


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