Thomas Jefferson: The Miniseries

A very well done fan made “trailer” for a Thomas Jefferson miniseries, with the trailer consisting of clips from the John Adams miniseries.  Such a miniseries would be challenging.  Jefferson was one of the most complicated of the Founding Fathers, and there is plenty of his legacy to fight about still.  I love the Declaration of Independence, yet I think clearly Alexander Hamilton had the better plan for the economic development of the country.  I agree with Jefferson on his concern about too much federal authority over states, but he loses me with his embrace, prior to his presidency, of nullification. Jefferson spoke and wrote against slavery his entire life, yet he made no plans, as did Washington, to free his slaves after his death.  A man who railed against government debt, he was so profligate in his personal finances that all of his property, including his slaves, had to be sold after his death to pay his debts.  A man who deeply cherished the teachings of Christ, yet denied His divinity.  A man averse to standing armies and war, yet he supported the French Revolution at its bloodiest, and could talk glibly about the blood of patriots watering the tree of liberty, while he never served a day in the Continental Army.

There is in Jefferson much to inspire, and to offend, virtually all Americans.  A well done miniseries on the American Sphinx would be a prize indeed.

8 Responses to Thomas Jefferson: The Miniseries

  • Our only Catholic Signer of the Declaration of Independence had some fun quotes on Jefferson :)

    I think Charles Carroll of Carrollton was really afraid he would have to go underground when Jefferson was elected

  • After reading biographies of Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and Jefferson, I am left with a very negative impression of Jefferson on the whole.

    One item: Here is a man who wrote against slavery, but who sometimes sold slaves to pay his debts.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if a person reading popular history would come away with a negative impression of him. A LOT is made of his keeping slaves at Monticello despite writing against slavery.

    BUT his personal failings should not distract from the good ideas he did have. He perceived the dangers of central banking, the importance of Natural Rights and the connection personal liberty has with a whole society’s prosperity.

    Jefferson also knew how crushing debt could be, and probably would hold up his own life as an example. On his trips abroad he certainly was a spendthrift, and I believe he inherited large debt from his father-in-law. That, combined with his obsession over Monticello, blinded him to the moral necessity of freeing his slaves.

    Let’s not forget the failings of other founders. John Adams, the man who fought for rights like the freedom of speech, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. And, while I’m no expert on General Washington, I have read in the past that it wasn’t exactly a picnic being under his command.

    So, while I agree that Jefferson was no saint (heck, and no fan of that Roman popery…) I think he still remains one of the better models to look to for America’s intellectual heritage.

    But hey, I disagree with Don strongly on Abraham Lincoln. I just think he’s the worst. I find him more a beacon for a quasi-religious vision of the all-powerful State than an advocate of personal liberty. Every time I read something from Lincoln or about him I have to keep from vomiting a little. I just simply don’t buy that this sacred union is meant to usher in the “glory of the coming of the Lord,” as the famous song says… Nor do I buy that this land is “exceptional,” if by the word we mean America is some how exempt from the moral norms of international diplomacy and economics. America is only as great as the content of her ideas, but she is not transcendent-great.

    You have to put these guys in perspective. Keep the good they brought into the world and discard what they did wrong. Like Aquinas with Aristotle. :)

  • “Every time I read something from Lincoln or about him I have to keep from vomiting a little.”

    You will have ample opportunity to clear your digestive tract Anthony in the next week, as I have several posts planned celebrating our greatest President in honor of his birthday.

  • I think he still remains one of the better models to look to for America’s intellectual heritage.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s funny that you (incorrectly) lambast Lincoln as the great centralizer, but it is in fact the Jeffersonian philosophy and its underlying utopianism that is the intellectual foundation for America’s development into leviathan.

  • @Don: Judging from the consistency of your Lincoln posts, I’d say Lincoln has a birthday once a month.

    @Paul: Jeffersonian rhetoric is used all the time by the modern GOP to mask what are in reality centralizing policies, if that’s what you mean. As far as it all being utopian, I’d disagree: its far more utopian to believe that centralized power works, and incidentally, is just. Lincoln, TR, Wilson and FDR were all in their own way the great centralizers of US history.

  • Jeffersonian rhetoric is used all the time by the modern GOP to mask what are in reality centralizing policies

    That’s not what I meant. Jefferson’s political philosophy, when logically extended, becomes a centralizing philosophy. He was the champion of progress and disregarding the dead hand of the past. Even though he called himself a strict constructionist, it’s Jeffersonianism in action when Courts and Congress disregard the Constitution.

    As far as it all being utopian, I’d disagree: its far more utopian to believe that centralized power works Lincoln, TR, Wilson and FDR were all in their own way the great centralizers of US history.

    You are correct in all but Lincoln. But TR Wilson, and FDR were doing nothing more but applying Jefferson’s democratic utopianism.

  • An excellent article regarding the influence of deism on many of the Founders by the late Cardinal Avery Dulles:

    http://www.sullivan-county.com/deism/reason2.htm

    Although Jefferson and Franklin held many tenets of Deism, they believed, as the Declaration clearly states, that God had an active role in history and that man owes to God an account of his life, two things that fly directly in the face of Deism. Dulles does a masterful job in illustrating Jefferson’s (whom he calls the “Sage of Monticello) complex and ever-evolving religiousd views.

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