Sunday, March 22, 2009

History and Thomas Jefferson

It's amazing to me how badly I am educated in regards to history. It's also rather disheartening. I've been trying to rectify the problem. I've been reading a history of the world book and am on page 233 out of 1200. It's a slow read, but very interesting. I'm mostly amazed at how important religion has been in the history of modern man. It's good blog fodder, but, I think, not at this juncture.

Anyway, I've also discovered a wealth of information via the television. I was astonished to discover that Netflix has a host of documentaries that you can rent and some that you can watch instantly via their streaming service. Netflix has got to be one of my favorite new services offered in the last 10 years.

Most recently I watched an interesting one on Thomas Jefferson. I blogged a bit about it earlier. The fact that he coined the phrase "All men are created equal" and yet he owned over 200 slaves.

As you read this, remember, in your mind, that my history education is severely lacking. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's kind of exciting learning all of this stuff as an old man. I should have realized it sooner. Durango had to explain to me where Fort Worth got its name. I never even bothered to make the mental leap necessary to determine that it was a fort. The preceding was an example of my historical ignorance. It's almost embarrassing.

I had no idea that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day within a few hours of each other. If you equate it to modern understanding, John Adams was like an ultra conservative Republican and Thomas Jefferson was like a super liberal Democrat. They were both considered part of the "founding fathers". They both died within a few hours of each other on America's 50th birthday. July 4, 1826. They started out as friends, became huge political adversaries, and became close again after retirement.

I mentioned earlier that I thought Thomas Jefferson might be the biggest hypocrite in US history. I've changed my mind. After watching all, I believe, 3 hours of the documentary, I've decided he was a genius who knew what needed to be done to make the USA successful. Sometimes he wrote things that made him appear hypocritical, but I think he wrote what he thought needed to be written to make the USA a success. And he was a great writer.

Part of the reason I write this blog is to try and improve my writing skills. I'll never be as good as Thomas Jefferson and he had to practice via handwriting with some large mechanical contraption that copied everything as it was written (pictured above). I just type on my keyboard and the words are magically spell checked, saved, published, and copied infinitely in the blink of an eye.


  1. I did not know where to start on how wrong you were about TJ. And then, within a few hours, you saw the light. I'm impressed. A deeper look will reveal TJ was not all that hypocritical about the slave issue. If we Americans were more attuned to how TJ thought we should act, we'd do even more interesting things, as in revolt on a regular basis. The 60s was the last time, I think, that we were in TJ mode, here, in America.

    TJ and JA were not the last presidents to die on the 4th. They were followed a few years later by one of the almost founding fathers.

    It pleases me that you figured out, that despite being a slave holder, and a very benevolent slave holder at that, that TJ would have very happily voted for our current president. To whom, for all we know, (Sally Hemmings) he may be related.

    I eagerly await your discovery of the history of Germany. That should be interesting.

  2. The few geniuses that I've known in my life all appear eccentric in varying degrees. I think TJ was one of these.
    I think he was also scared of being alone and his slaves insured that he wouldn't be alone.
    At some point in the documentary, I decided that he loved his slaves and thought of them as part of his family.
    When the story of Sally Hemmings was introduced, it fed into my hypothesis.
    He didn't try to abolish slavery simply because he knew it would lead to civil war. He didn't think the USA would survive a civil war during his lifetime.
    It was a very interesting documentary.

  3. The quote that all men are created equal is fallible, in my humble opinion. We are all very different even down to our finger print. A more valid assumption and safeguard should be that we all have equal access to the opportunities guaranteed by the bill of rights. As far as hyprocites go...i'm not really bothered by 'em. We all are only as good as our last choice. J