On Experimentation

The American experience has always been built on experimentation… Our very existence doubted by most of the world, the optimism of Thomas Jefferson became essential to the survival of our republican experiment. As the election of 1796 loomed… the friendship between Jefferson and John Adams waned.  Jefferson reminded his friend of their experiment:   “IContinue reading “On Experimentation”

Confederacy and Freedom

For too long defenders of Confederate heritage… have associated it with freedom and individual rights for all whites. The specter of the conquering Yankee invading the homeland to oppress the yeoman and steal his acre was the rallying cry.  Policy makers in the Confederacy used this propaganda to dupe poor whites  to defend the landedContinue reading “Confederacy and Freedom”

Jefferson on Education

“We shall have our follies without doubt. Some one or more of them will always be afloat. But ours will be the follies of enthusiasm, not of bigotry … bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education & free discussion are the antidotes of both. We areContinue reading “Jefferson on Education”

Context for Historic Monuments is Subjective

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington DC has submitted a list of Federal monuments in her city which should be “removed, relocated, or contextualized.” She recently formed a commission to study this highly contentious issue. These recommendations come at a crucial time in our analysis of American remembrance. Bowser’s commission actually lists the Washington Monument andContinue reading “Context for Historic Monuments is Subjective”

Jefferson and the Press

Jefferson was a champion of the free press, but never considered freedom of speech as blanket protection for slander. Throughout his career, he struggled with the contradictory nature of politics and media. “Yet I fear such a paper would find few subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression of the press could notContinue reading “Jefferson and the Press”

Jefferson’s Birthday

  Further proof that the trend of combining different commemorations into banker’s holidays… is truly foolish, look no further than Thomas Jefferson. Upon entering the executive mansion… citizens began petitioning him for the use of his birthday as a holiday, he gently reminded them, ‘The only birthday I ever commemorate, is that of our Independence,Continue reading “Jefferson’s Birthday”

Jefferson on our Resilience

Jefferson offered an optimistic assessment of our republic’s fortitude. Words that we should turn to today; “I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government whichContinue reading “Jefferson on our Resilience”

Strange Bedfellows

The election of 1800 definitively shows that politics… do indeed make strange bedfellows.  Because of vagaries in the original constitutional language, Aaron Burr tied Thomas Jefferson with 73 electoral votes.  Burr had reneged on his word to stand as Jefferson’s running mate as many states divided their electoral votes between the two candidates.  The matterContinue reading “Strange Bedfellows”

Greatest Generation

99 men signed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution… a group we consider the Founders.  Plenty has been written about what set this generation apart- today, it seems most writers attempt to separate them for alleged transgressions.  Today we accuse them of being greedy aristocrats determined to maintain their vast fortunes-  we forget what actuallyContinue reading “Greatest Generation”

On Immigration

Jefferson discussed immigration to the United States in 1805: “Shall we refuse the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?” America was growing and Jefferson approved: “We contemplate this rapid growth, and theContinue reading “On Immigration”