Facts in Five

Jefferson’s Presidency by the numbers

  • National debt in 1801- $112 million 
  • Percentage of budget Jefferson designated to pay the debt- 78%
  • The population of the US in 1801 was 5, 305, 982  – 893, 605 were slaves
  • The United States paid $15 million for the Louisiana territory in 1803-  Equivalent to $233 million today
  • The Federal budget in 1803 was $8.2 million before the Louisiana Purchase
  • Jefferson was prepared to pay $10 million for New Orleans alone, the extra 828,000 square miles were a bargain at just under 3 cents per acre

Great American Duels- Congressional Violence

Challenger:  Henry Clay- United States Secretary of State, Former Speaker of the  US House of Representatives

Challenged: John Randolph- United States Senator from Virginia, Seven term US Representative from Virginia

The Offense:  On the floor of the US Senate, Randolph challenged the legitimacy of the John Quincy Adams administration and implicated Clay was part of the “Corrupt Bargain” which gave the presidency to Adams.  Clay demanded public satisfaction and was ignored; he quickly challenged Randolph to a duel. 

Clay

Background:  The fiercely proud, frontier statesman, Henry Clay had already been wounded in a duel in 1809.  Clay was arguably the most influential politician of the early republic period; guiding the country through the War of 1812, crafting the American System of economics following the war, and transforming the Speaker position to the powerful post we recognize today.  John Randolph of Roanoke was brilliant, eccentric, and unpredictable.  He defied Jefferson in 1807, opposed the War of 1812, and became a loyal Jacksonian; Randolph frustrated many in his native Virginia.  It is believed he suffered from consumption and consumed liberal amounts of opium to manage his pain.  Randolph was a crack shot and many powerful people in Washington approached him on Clay’s behalf- Henry Clay was too valuable to lose in a duel…..

Randolph

The Field of Honor:  Saturday, April 8, 1825- The duel was held in Virginia, Randolph declared that only Virginia soil could catch his blood.  Dueling was illegal in Virginia, so both men would face criminal charges.  Randolph’s Second, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, tried in vain to settle the dispute; even after Randolph’s pistol discharged early because of a hare-trigger.  Clay demanded a reload and his satisfaction.  At 30 paces, the two men turned and fired….both missed.  Clay shouted, “This is child’s play!”  and pistols were reloaded.  Clay fired first and hit Randolph’s coat, missing the mark again.  The Code Duello demanded that Clay absorb his opponent’s charge.  Randolph took his time, a very tense 2 minutes passed…..he aimed high and fired over Clay’s head.  The two men met halfway and shook hands, Clay asked, “Mr. Randolph are you hurt?”  “No”, Randolph replied, ” but you owe me a new coat.”

Facts in Five- Monticello

Jefferson edition #2-  Monticello

  • Hurry up and finish!  – Jefferson started construction in 1769 and never stopped building until 1809.  Jefferson was the primary architect and a majority of the labor was completed by slaves.
  • The tour seemed rather short-  There are 43 rooms in Monticello, many are on the upper floors which are closed to the public today. 
  • Domes are all the rage-  The dome at Monticello was installed in 1800 and was the first ever seen in America.  All of the glass within the dome was made in Austria. 
  • Privacy please! – The green lattice installed around his bed chamber and office was to keep visitors from peeking in his windows…sorry, conspiracy theorists, it had nothing to do with secret rendezvouses with Sally Hemings
  • Plenty of elbow room-  Monticello is over 11,000 sq. feet including basement space.  There are eight fireplaces and two staircases.  Rooms on the second and third floor only have 8′ ceilings.  The house is 110′ long, 87′ wide, and nearly 45′ high. 

Happy Thanksgiving

Students often express disbelief… and disappointment when they are informed of the true history behind the Thanksgiving holiday.  Years of being taught the story of  Pilgrims, Squanto, and the first harvest leave an indelible mark upon young minds.  There is no debate that these events occurred, rather, the effects of the cooperation are what can be considered contentious.  County and state fairs are the true celebrations of the harvest and happen at the appropriate time of year.  The reasonable question is how did we arrive at the last Thursday in November as our National Day of Thanks?

We have Abraham Lincoln to thank… for the holiday.  Issued at the height of the Civil War, Lincoln hoped to unite various state holidays already in existence into a National “festival of Union.”   The original draft was composed by Secretary of State, William Seward.  Lincoln issued the final draft on October 3, 1863.

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. A PROCLAMATION.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed,

Done at the city of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

By the President: WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State

Eat Turkey- Be Thankful

Spare us your phony indignation over the Thanksgiving holiday… Stop posting the painfully naive memes about American Indians being killed or robbed by the Pilgrims- cease with the historically ignorant platitudes about rightful ownership and true “Native Americans.”   You are only showing your ignorance of history; but in addition, on full display is your gullibility.  An intellectual capacity so lacking it can be manipulated by a mundane utterance or passing snicker.

Give thanks this holiday… as Abraham Lincoln intended it.  Carve the turkey, pass the stuffing, and enjoy some pumpkin pie.  Instead of watching three meaningless football games, pick up a book and learn something about the first Thanksgiving.  Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower is a good place to start. History is complicated and sometimes rather messy.  If you can accept 140 characters or less as your teacher, your thoughts on any matter are insignificant.

Memorials to War Dead

Virginia’s Governor, his past indiscretions aside, celebrated the triumph of his party in the State legislative election by promising more iconoclasm in the Old Dominion.

      There are over 660 Confederate monuments across the United States.  A scholarly study conducted in 1982 found that nearly half of these are specifically memorializing Confederate war dead.  Another third are generic pronouncements of sacrifices made during the Civil War.  The smallest grouping denotes a celebration of “lost cause” ideology.

Durham_confederate_statue

The recent passing of the eminent Bud Robertson, chosen by John Kennedy to chair the Civil War Centennial Committee, has been largely ignored by academics(no doubt due to resentment.)  In one of his last speeches, Robertson derided current efforts to destroy all the progress made by his Centennial commission …. unity, and remembrance.

Today, Civil War history is being molded into something divided, derisive, and vengeful.  Bud may not have been at his best, but he could identify the problem:

“Elements hell-bent on tearing apart unity that generations of Americans have painfully constructed.”