What Thomas Jefferson Learned…

Those of you who have read any of my posts on George Washington will recall that I often tied events and patterns together in a way that I believe showed divine intervention. When I first began researching Thomas Jefferson, I was sure that such a presentation was not going to be possible. I was just not finding that kind of information on the man. But I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. ‘Diving’ deeper, it’s another story…

Previously, I’ve touched on the idea of ‘ideas’, declaring that results tangible and otherwise emanate from what we think. And that what Thomas Jefferson thought greatly, greatly shaped our nation and its systems of government. So, what was in Jefferson’s mind was of paramount importance. What he learned well over two centuries ago had everything to do with America being what she is today. “…bedrock Jeffersonian values…determined the shape of {his} political vision…and…remain such a potent influence on ours.” (Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphinx: the Character of Thomas Jefferson) So back in time we go, to the mid-1700’s where we find the ‘point of origin’ of Jefferson’s penchant for learning – his father, Peter Jefferson.

Peter Jefferson started out as a farmer, but his vision, ingenuity and what I see as an entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with strength and endurance moved him well past that. Young Thomas grew up watching the constant dynamic of a self-made, self taught man. A man who “valued education” and instilled that value in his son. (R.B. Bernstein, Thomas Jefferson). A man who seemed not to be content with what came along, but continually learned and expanded his station in life, as well as his fortunes. Having married into the Virginia planter elite when he wedded Jane Randolph, Peter then managed a Randolph plantation in addition to owning the Jefferson’s land at Shadwell. He learned the craft of surveying and map-making, for which he earned some renown, creating the first accurate map of Virginian territory in 1751. His surveying expeditions also afforded Peter first-hand opportunities to acquire frontier lands, virtually unexplored and laden with promise, expanding his own estate. Going on to community and governing positions, Peter Jefferson became a vestryman, church warden and member of the House of Burgesses. If he had not died at the young age of forty-nine, who knows but that he, too, would’ve been a compatriot with our Founders? Such was not his destiny, however. His destiny, it seems to me, was to be that exemplary role model that a young Thomas Jefferson, fatherless at fourteen, would never forget. A father who blazed paths from plantations to politics, a descendant of Welsh immigrants who pursued and found his place in the circles of wealth and social standing. A man who broke out of the ranks, “…who clearly owed nothing to anyone but was his own self-reliant master…” (Max Lerner, Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King)

Talk about a spirit of independence!  I don’t think a more effective image could have been placed in young Jefferson’s sights. And perhaps the pain of losing his father so young, caused that image to remain with him (though perhaps unconsciously at times) in such a way as to ceaselessly prod Thomas Jefferson into fulfilling the Destiny that his father set in motion…

ooo
More to come on “What Thomas Jefferson Learned…”
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