Friday, April 13, 2012

for Mr. Jefferson.

Friday, April 13th. It's someone's birthday - and frankly, I'd forgotten until my Mother-Dear reminded us at breakfast this morning. How I'd forgotten is completely beyond me, frankly, I should be ashamed. After all, I have spent my entire life under the shadow of this great man.
Thomas Jefferson
b. April 13, 1743

He'd be 269 years old today...and his influence is still so heavy and predominate here it's hard to believe it's been almost three centuries since his birth. My town practically worships this man - which is good and bad :D - and he really was brilliant. Yes, he had his flaws. Some rather major. But God used him to help create this nation, as well as set a standard for education and freedom that is still challenging students and individuals today.


His home, Monticello, is a masterpiece of design and genius. It's full of the neatest little inventions and gadgets, not to mention the structure of the house itself is perfectly preportioned. The gardens, the paths, the outbuildings, the cellars, the location. It's one of my favorite spots on earth. I love this place.

Before Mr. Jefferson died, he requested that only three of his many life accomplishments be remembered on his tombstone. His headstone says, "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia." That's it.
I would hope that my American readers (and I assume most of my out-of-country readers know this as well) are familiar with our Declaration of Independence, which stated that the thirteen colonies of America were declaring themselves free and independent from the rule of George IV and the British Parliament. Congress voted on July 2nd to declare independence, voted on the wording of the Declaration on July 4th, and finished signing it on August 2, 1776. Mr. Jefferson was responsible for writing the document, and that was the first thing he wanted to be remembered for.

Secondly, he mentioned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This is a less-well-known work, but very important. It became part of Virgina state law in 1786, and was a basis for the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment of our national Constitution. Here's an excerpt from the final paragraph:
Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.
Lastly, but certainly not least, Mr. Jefferson wanted to be remembered as the "father of the University of Virginia." He believed strongly in education, and was heavily involved in the university proceedings until his death. Neat Fact: Mr. Jefferson made UVA the first college in the United States to offer Astronomy, Architecture, Botany, Philosophy and Political Science as major. Before then, colleges only offered Medicine, Law, and Religion.

The college still stands as originally designed by the man himself. It is still active today, having grown in leaps and bounds since it was established by Jefferson in 1819 - almost two hundred years ago. The picture above is of the Rotunda, which sits sedately at the head of the Lawn - one of UVA's iconic and most famous attractions. And probably my second favorite spot ever.

Thomas Jefferson was an incredible man. It's funny, lots of touristy-type people can't seem to get past the scandals surrounding him. All the books written about you-know-who and the whisperings and the fact that the story is actual in the Jefferson picture-books now. Blech. Reality is, lots of famous people have moral issues, and that's their business. But others are able to move beyond the messy history and see the genius. They can appreciate the intellect that God blessed Mr. Jefferson with, and understand the thoughtfulness and foresight that guided his ideas for our country and the state. It's when you see the *good* things that you can understand why.

Here are Jeffersonian quotes to wrap up with:

"When people fear the government, there is tyranny. When government fears the people, there is liberty."

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have."

"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."

"In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock."

"I cannot live without books."


Happy Birthday, Mr. Jefferson, and thank you for your contributions to our society!

3 comments:

  1. Obviously Thomas Jefferson did have some issues, but then again, who doesn't? It shouldn't mar our appreciation for his many contributions to American liberty. I remember visiting Monticello last summer; so, so beautiful. Daddy adored the gardens, as well as the little dining room in the alcove. :D I for one could have lived there for years if it would be allowed . . . such a splendid place.

    Those quotes are spot-on, and could be applied quite well to our current American government . . . *cough cough* Especially, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have." And I just love the last one, of course — too true. ;)

    Love ya,
    Elizabeth Rose

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  2. I love those 10 things from Thomas Jefferson. I learned about them in economics this year. They make so much sense! Thomas Jefferson was really cool too. Have you read the book Rise to Rebellion? It's not exactly heavy reading (it's a novel), but it has a great story and it's about the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the battles with the British. It also talks about the writers' faults, which I like since they weren't perfect. So many people make them seem surreal examples of humanity, but in reality, they had their faults too.

    -J.A.

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  3. Forgot... noticed you remember the Titanic's 100th anniversary. :( I remembered it at like 7:30pm yesterday.

    -J.A.

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