Thomas Jefferson

Its been a really interesting summer for me, given the fact that I am a confirmed US history geek.  I love reading about the colonies and the Revolution.  The Civil War just makes me sad and a little fearful, but reading about those early days is inspirational.

I used to think that the formulation of the US was almost a series of accidental events.  You know, the King passed a law, there was a protest, the King passed another law…….  It turns out, though, that the reactions taken by the Colonisists (also knows as “rebels”, “Patriots”, “outlaws”, “Americans”, “provincials” or  “Committeemen”, depending on who was talking)…well, those reactions were generally well thought out and careful.

Did you know that there was a three day Town Meeting held in the South Meeting House before the Boston Tea Party took place? And we can’t always get a quorum at our Town Meetings!

One of the most interesting bits of research that I have completed this summer has been to read the actual words of the actual Founding Fathers, and Mothers (That Abigail Adams could really write!!).  It has become popular lately for people to use quotes from these people to support political positions today.  Thomas Jefferson, that verbose genius, has left hundreds of really pithy quotes behind.  While I hesitate to take anyone’s words out of context, I think that a couple of Jefferson’s are pretty pointed and interesting.  And I’ll use them because they support exactly what I’ve been trying to say.  Turns out that Thomas Jefferson was a huge supporter of….wait for it…….


He thought that the only way to control government and prevent tyranny was to provide a good, readily available education to the public.  He said that paying for public education was cheaper than paying the Tyrants later.  Jefferson said that the only way to prevent government abuse of power was to make sure the people remain ready to rebel. The only way to insure that people will rebel is to make sure that people understand the world around them.  I know, I am paraphrasing.  I can get you the direct quotes, or you can find them yourself at the University of Virginia website.

I will include this one direct quote, though, because I think that it is inarguable:

1820 September 28. (to William C. Jarvis) “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves: and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their controul with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

So it seems to me that all those who would use Thomas Jefferson to show “the intent of the Founding Fathers” must loudly advocate for more education and must protest loudly against continued cuts to programs and schools.

I’m looking forward to hearing the Tea Party call for more money to the Department of Education!!


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