Regaining Focus

Unbelievably, once again I find myself sitting in front of my old faithful Compaq Presario, that relic of antiquity that still houses Windows 98 software! And without which, at this point, I would be computer-less…so, no complaints here…! It seems my netbook got infected with a nasty little virus that prevented me from accessing any information through Bing. Supposedly for my ‘security’. Hah. Yeah, right…I will not be forced into using Google, which I suspect may’ve been the motivation here. Attempting a System Restore resulted in a black-out! So, while waiting for a recovery disc to arrive in the mail, I’ve managed to resurrect this baby, and am glad for it!
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Christmas is over now, and I’m starting to feel myself kicking back into gear. Feels good! I have found a renewed focus & commitment. Or maybe it found me…
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“…Jefferson followed the lodestar of freedom.”

(Robert Schmuhl, Introduction, Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King)

Be still, my heart!

…something about that phrase…if one was not familiar with who Thomas Jefferson is, an image of someone with his head in the clouds, who is probably no earthly good! might be conjured up. But we know better…

Having recently passed through a sudden & deeply impacting family crisis, as well as having gone through a number of my own personal valleys of darkness, I am finding on the other side flawless clarity of vision. Count it all joy, right?! (James 1:2) (Which, btw, I constantly forget to do…) This morning, re-reading portions of the very books with which I began my glorious venture into the Revolutionary past, I knew certainty. There was no struggle to concentrate, or grasp an idea. I was THERE! More than ever, my heart & mind align with our Founders, and as I’ve always suspected, I am a kindred spirit with Thomas Jefferson. I worship Jesus, am forever in awe of George Washington, but I recognize myself in Jefferson.

I will be reiterating, here & there along the way, sentiments previously expressed in other posts. But they bear repeating.

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I have been horribly able, lately, to imagine being a dhimmi. For those of you who may not be familiar with this term, it is the label applied by Muslim teaching to those who do not believe in their Allah, nor practice Islam. ALL Christians, ALL Jewish believers, and probably most of you reading this, would fall into this category. It is not good, ever, to be living in a state of, or even to merely imagine living in a state of dhimmitude. It is everything that America is not. Living as a dhimmi, in a Muslim society, isn’t just a matter of having a label pinned on you. It is a matter of the loss of your freedom.

As I grow in my knowledge of the ideals of our Founders, I am also growing in a piercing awareness of the preciousness of our liberty. I am aware as well, of the hugeness of my own previous naivete in this matter. Reading ‘The Shack’ (Wm. Paul Young) a month or so ago, I came across the term ‘the wastefulness of grace’, I think it was…God lavishes us with such abundance, in so many ways – we simply aren’t even aware of the worth, the value – because we are so used to having this abundance. It’s a matter of course. We take it for granted. Daily. And I don’t point this out with the intention of provoking guilt. Not at all. But rather to suggest that a deadly result of the constant availability of our American life style fosters the belief that we could not lose it. Ever.

So some of us who need to recognize the signs, don’t.

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Ever since my blog-writing shifted from primarily Washington & Revolutionary War-related topics to more current events, world-related issues, such as the war in Afghanistan and terrorism, I’ve been strongly & inexplicably drawn to, well – terrorist issues. It seems black and horrendous, but nonetheless…piecing together increasing knowledge of facts & new information, working on this puzzle, I am getting a much clearer picture now. I had thought, along the way, that I was unhealthily obsessed. Yet no matter what issues of national/international importance arose, for me, fighting terrorism trumped all. I also had thought, why are so few even mentioning this reality these days? Why are American citizens so resistant to US troops involvement in these Middle East conflicts, when it is in fact this very involvement in these conflicts that will produce the results needed to keep America safe? And, in keeping America safe, we safeguard freedom as well. And not for our nation only, but for the world. How can people not realize this?
During this last Sunday’s airing of ’Meet the Press’, Peggy Noonan, columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Pulitzer Prize winning author & Presidential historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin underscored this very issue. Discussing the projected troops pull-out in Afghanistan with Bob Woodward and Tom Brokaw, host David Gregory raised the concern that ‘we are still fighting an existential threat in Afghanistan’. Ms. Goodwin pointed out that ‘6 out of 10 people don’t think this is a war worth fighting’. Yet, she says“…the threat of al-Qaeda still remains the strongest question.” And somehow, it seems that much of the American public has become oblivious to that fact. Probably because, according to Tom Brokaw, “less than one percent of the country is fighting the war. I mean, and 99 percent of the country nothing is asked of us.” Consequently, it is not discussed. Peggy Noonan expressed amazement that “It’s just accepted as a fact that one doesn’t comment on”, throughout our everyday activities.

We can’t be thinking about, dreading, or living in anxiety over the possibility of a terrorist attack at any moment, every moment! You just can’t live that way, and thank God, at this point, these aren’t our constant physical circumstances. This isn’t Pakistan, or the Gaza strip…it’s still America. But we can’t be forgetting that this possibility does exist. “…it’s an obligation of all of us as well as the political leadership of this country to make sure that it’s on the table, not just in forums like this, but on a, on a regular basis.” states Tom Brokaw.

And while this is not Pakistan or Afghanistan, Mr. Brokaw reminds us, as mentioned earlier, of the ‘existential threat’ nature of this battle. “…it goes beyond the borders of Afghanistan. We’re talking about Islamic rage.”

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I rejoiced to hear these words spoken, for in doing so, they highlighted, as well as confirmed, the priority that terrorism awareness needs to have in our country, but does not. The need for our economic recovery is a sorely pressing one, I know. But if our homeland security is not zealously and ceaselessly guarded, if the invasion of the ideology of radical Islam is not stopped – if the forces that threaten our freedoms are not relentlessly turned back & kept out – having a job will be the least of your worries.
May God continue to bless America, keep her safe, and guide her leaders, present & future, with His perfect wisdom.

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Jefferson…Freedom…They’re in my Blood

In the course of preparations for a future Bill of Rights -related post, I’ve returned to some of my George Washington/ Thomas Jefferson books & notes, and have been re-reading, or reading for the first time, relevant sections. And of course, there is no way that I can be dabbling my ‘toes’ in those waters & not want to dive right back in! Earlier this evening, sitting at the table with pen in hand & markers nearby, I was reading a chapter in ‘Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King’, about Jefferson’s years in Europe. I found myself smiling. Not only was I smiling, I realized that I had this smitten, almost falling-in-love kind of feeling! How happy am I! I ask you, how could anyone not become enamoured with this man? Let me borrow a couple of phrases from this chapter, to make my point. According to the author Max Lerner, Jefferson was “…a kind of radar-perceiver of the tremors and rumblings in the world around him…with a pen sharp enough to impale them for the centuries in unforgettable phrases.” Wow. May there never be a time in my life when I am not awed by the greatness of our Founders, and even more so by the richness of the immeasurable treasures imparted to them by the Creator.

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So, I find myself, once again, at Jefferson’s doorstep. May I say, I am very glad to be here.

But it isn’t just about the author of the Declaration of Independence that I write at this time. Sorting through a collage of ideas & impressions, I’m still feeling my way, not sure exactly what I want to say. I become more sure every day that the only way to reclaim the American dream is by a return to Constitutional principles, for those who have left them behind. Our leaders & our educators need to look to our Founding Father, the Founding Father who led our first army into battle, George Washington, and re-learn the beliefs he held forth, about & for America. We need to return to first principles.

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We know it has been said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. As vigilance is required at our borders & in our ports, so is it required in our minds & in our thinking as well. We who call on the name of Jesus know that our adversary the devil ‘prowleth about’, seeking whom he may devour, and I have to assume this same devil devours, besides lives & souls, truth in thinking also. Wrong conclusions are drawn, and the course of history changes for the worse.

Yesterday I read this poignant, powerful article – “The American Dream: Why the Tyrants Can Never Win” . It’s power is in it’s truth. The author points out the connection between freedom and laziness. Specifically, freedom is hard-won, and yielding to lazy dependency on a ‘nanny-state’ is ‘the essence of captivity and tyranny’. I extrapolate this formula to include any dependencies, void of one’s own efforts to achieve & survive. Know for a certainty that these supposed solutions to your needs will, one way or another, enslave.

Sometimes, I think my life is hard, and I will confess that I sometimes find myself thinking along the lines of, why, God? You know the drill – you believe in Him, you try to do the right thing, you seek to aid in ushering in His way and His kingdom, etc., etc. – or, maybe you don’t, but still, your life isn’t coming together, it’s too difficult. Why, God? In reading this article today, for myself, I think I’ve found at least part of my answer. I’ve been fighting to hold onto freedom, the right to choose, to follow my heart. No doubt, freedom has her price.
The article is brief, please read it. I hope it touches you the way it has reached into my heart.

another Personal Note…

I know I’ve said this before, more than once, but the miracle in my heart continues & I am almost compelled to sound the trumpet yet again.

I think about the days of Revolution more & more. I realized today that I want to go back in time & be a part of it. What it must have been like in those days is barely conceivable! Can you imagine the excitement of shaping a nation?? I feel a discernible sense of camaraderie with the men who met in Philadelphia in 1787 to forge & frame a new Constitution for a young America. I remember reading that Jefferson was not present and wanted, so wanted! to be…he was living in Paris, our ambassador to France, an ocean away, and felt left out, being in a sense excluded from what he termed “the assembly of demi-gods”. (Lerner, Max – Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King) And god-like it was, I can see that now, to have been in such a place at such a time, such an amazing, amazing time in history!

This afternoon, I began reading a book entitled “How We Choose a Congress” . Every word came alive. It was almost as if I was there, on Capitol Hill, somehow involved. The saga continues, the dream lives on. The pricelessness of what we have here in America stuns me. The moments when I realize this are the moments of reality clear, true and brilliant. By stark contrast, the many other moments of my day & life, the humdrum, uneventful or so-so times that make up the fabric of a day or week…are causing me to wonder, how long have I been asleep? What am I doing with this gift of life & Liberty? I am coming late, way late to an awareness of the miracle, and find myself re-assessing priorities.

They wanted a King !….or, The Evils of Monarchy

“And ye have this day rejected your God…ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us.” (1 Samuel 10: 19, KJV)
It almost breaks my heart to read through the eighth chapter of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. It was so not in the heart of the LORD to place an earthly king over the people of Israel. He could not have been any more clear, nor more specific, in His warnings to the people regarding such a form of ‘leadership’. But “Nevertheless the people refused…and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us:” (1 Samuel 8: 19, KJV) Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible (p.235) points out that, in those days (and I point out, in days yet to come!) “having a king mean{t} conscription, forced labour, taxation, and loss of personal liberty. But even this does not deter them.”
Now wouldn’t you think such dire consequences as outlined in 1 Samuel would stop Israel dead-in-their-tracks, so to speak, as concerns demanding a king? Plus, the LORD spoke his warning through the prophet Samuel, a man of God well-known by all, and a force to be reckoned with. If the people would’ve listened to any human, it surely would’ve been Samuel. But Biblical history tells us otherwise. The elders of Israel “said unto him, Behold…make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (1Samuel 8: 5, KJV)
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We see here the tendency of man to progress towards ‘kingly government’. It may surprise you to learn that this concept was expressed by Benjamin Franklin, during Revolutionary times!
His concerns for American liberty seem to mirror those of the ancient prophet of Israel. “I am apprehensive, therefore…that the Government of these States may in future times end in a monarchy.” (Albert H. Smythe, ed.,The Writings of Benjamin Franklin) Franklin believed that the American citizenry might eventually fall under the illusion of ‘kingly government’ providing equality among all. (W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap) In a word, security? Which engenders survival, promotes happiness and makes possible liberty and its enjoyment. (Another way of phrasing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?) Author Michael Novak writes “liberty needs the sunny warmth of culture and ideas and the nourishing rain of favorable institutions of politics and economics.” (The Universal Hunger for Liberty) Conditions must be right, as with the blossoming of any planted seed. Franklin and other Founders shared with the prophet Samuel a great concern for the manner in which those conditions were courted.
In this lure towards ‘kingly government’ which so troubled Ben Franklin, and the clamor of ancient Israel for the same, I see the deceitfulness of law (as opposed to grace) wreaking its havoc. I see in the physical world the demonstration of a spiritual dynamic. Many people seek a structured formula (Old Testament law, or just plain law, period!) which, by adhering to it, will let them rest assured that, before God, they are ‘okay’. In similar manner, ‘kingly government’ will guarantee ‘security’, or equality. Everything will be ‘okay’.
Wrong. On both counts.
In God’s realm, “…by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” (Romans 3:20, KJV). Doesn’t work. Not gonna happen. Worse than a waste of time, because “the letter {of the Law} killeth.” (2 Corinthians 3:6, KJV). Conditions are not only NOT ‘okay’, they deteriorate into destruction.
In the earthly realm, government by a ‘king’, or monarch, has never worked, either. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to George Washington ( from Paris in 1788), wrote this: “ I was much an enemy to monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand times more so so since I have seen what they are. There is scarcely an evil known in these countries which may not be traced to their king as it source… ” (Edward Dumbault, ed., The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Ch.3, The Blessings of Free Government) Previously, in the spring of 1785, Jefferson had strongly urged James Monroe to visit him in Paris, for the express purpose of gaining a sharper, more clarified view of the American system of government compared to that of monarchical Europe. He wroteMy God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of and which no other people on earth enjoy. I confess I had no idea of it myself.” (Ibid.) Though Jefferson was fully aware of defects in the American system, as is true today still, his belief was that government of and for the People could be repaired and improved by the People – “whereas the evils of monarchical government are beyond remedy.” (Ibid.)
A single human ruler wielding all power is the formula for tyranny. And if you think about it, why would an individual even want to be all powerful? To dictate concerning the lives of others? The answers do not bode well for those under that individual’s rule. Reinforcing a god complex is one answer that occurs to me. Which brings to mind another Old Testament event, when Lucifer (which means ‘day star’, btw – interesting…) made this determination in his heart : “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13, 14, KJV) Intending to exalt one’s self as God, however, has this result: “…thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14: 15, KJV). God complexes are not healthy. They do not bring health to the people.
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Power and authority are with God, and come from Him (Romans 13: 1). Our use of it, when it is in our jurisdiction to do so, whether in the family, on the job, or in the governing of a nation, needs always to be to protect and serve. The temptation is to abuse power, applying it to meet one’s own needs/desires – the challenge to effectively handle it requires His grace, which as its pre-requisite requires in turn our willingness to receive it.

Returning to Things Jeffersonian…

It was a close call. The recent release of the CIA memos was pulling me in the direction of ‘commentary’, but while eating, I leaned down & picked up a book lying on the floor nearby, to read & stir up my mind a bit. Get some creative juices flowing! Picking up where I’d left off in “American Sphinx: the Character of Thomas Jefferson” proved to be…well, stimulating is a good word, but not the one I’m looking for. As I read about the Windsor chair in which Jefferson sat, and the specially-made desk on which he wrote the Declaration of Independence, in a brick building on the corner of 7th. & Market Streets, in Philadelphia, I actually sat up straighter, almost thrilled, & started to cry joyful tears. I don’t know if that building is still standing, but if it is, I’m heading there on my upcoming vacation.

And, just like that…it’s back to Thomas Jefferson!
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I had been writing about Jefferson’s background of learning, where and when he was exposed to the ideas and roots of ideas that were, ultimately, so powerfully instrumental in the shaping of America and its systems of law and government. And I want to continue in that vein. But, while reading about him last night, several other topics presented themselves, I took notes, and while these ideas are still fresh, I want to expound on them a bit. So, let me get those notes…

First, let me just say – I am almost bedazzled by the mind and personality of this man. I found myself grinning inwardly, (if that’s possible) and I’m talkin’ BIG grin here, as I watched Thomas Jefferson’s mental prowess unfold, through the words of author Joseph J. Ellis. And I suppose I should admit some of that ‘warm fuzzy’ I was feeling was because I could understand what Jefferson was doing, and how he operated. I almost feel as if I’ve met a kindred spirit…my heart goes out to his thin-skinned touchiness towards, and jealousy of his literary endeavours. Jefferson didn’t take kindly to its criticisms. He nourished & cherished his works, he birthed them in solitude and they were his, not to be picked on, tampered with, or re-adjusted by others. As Ellis puts it “he regarded all critical suggestions as unwelcome and misguided corruptions.” Jefferson had to endure a certain amount of it, but he did not have to like it.

(At this point, I’ve realized those notes are, so to speak, history! Can’t find ’em! So, until and if I do, let’s get back to business…)

I don’t want to neglect emphasizing the early-years’ learning influence on Jefferson’s thinking. Seeds planted back then, in a fertile, active mind, produced much more than just concepts and formulas. And Jefferson’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge factors into the equation as well…in today’s society, he may well have been labeled a ‘nerd’, considering the amount of time he actually preferred to spend with his books, instead his friends! A close college chum has reported that during his two years at William & Mary College, Jefferson would “fly to his studies”, leaving friends in the dust, and family tradition indicates those studies often took up fifteen hours of his day! (Wikipedia, Thomas Jefferson, Section 1.2 – Education)

Fast-forwarding, from the vantage point of a major player in the creation of the new nation of America, Jefferson was the embodiment of the kinds of knowledge needed for such a monumental endeavour. All of the amazing men whom today we call a Founding Father, (or who, though we may not recognize their names, took part in our beginnings), were vital and indispensable to such a profound event. Each had his part. But the mentality with which Thomas Jefferson was equipped, and whose life’s learning and experiences had produced that mentality, brought to the table that which would cement forever in place all those individual parts. The pillars of American government, and its liberty, were thus secured.


Over eighty years after the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s masterful sculpting of principles, arguments and ideas gave to “abstract truth” a form so powerful and enduring as to more than merit this high commendation:

“The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society…All honor to Jefferson – who…had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce…an abstract truth,(emphasis mine) applicable to all men and all times…in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.” Abraham Lincoln

So I don’t think it is in any way an exaggeration to stipulate repeatedly just how large a part Thomas Jefferson’s studies played in the formation of the American way. Indeed, the way which yet today stands as that beacon of glorious liberty to which the whole world looks. Many, in hope, some with longing, and others, sadly, in hatred…but still America stands. In God’s will and by His grace and mercy, for sure..but it was His will to so prepare the mind and heart of Thomas Jefferson that, resident within him was the extraordinary compilation of knowledge that made all things possible for America past, America present and may it still be His will, America future…

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Let’s examine some of Jefferson’s educational history.

At the age of nine, young Thomas was being taught Greek, French and Latin, at a local school.
(Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, nine seems a bit young? for Greek, French, and Latin?
( I must say,though, that is impressive.) And, as it turns out, the “study of Latin and Greek,… greatly reinforced {the} understanding of grammar..”, which is important for many reasons, one of them being to “acquire as many words and manage as many concepts as possible so as to be able to express and understand clearly concepts of varying degrees of complexity”. (Wikipedia, Classical Education Movement, 1.1.1 Grammar) I ask you: are we talkin’ Revolution here, are we talkin’ government and politics here, are we talkin’ Declaration of Independence here? You bet we are.

Skills the man would need were being implanted in the boy. God took no chances.

For two years, from 1758 – 1760, Thomas boarded with the family of the teacher at a school in Fredericksburg Parish, Virginia, twelve miles from Jefferson’s home. There he was given a ‘classical’ education. I was going to gloss over this aspect of Jefferson’s education, it seemed inconsequential compared to bigger and better things! but fortunately I had second thoughts. A classical education supplies a student with grammar, logic and rhetoric skills. He learns how to reason, how to “to critically examine arguments and to analyze {his} own.” He learns how to express his reasonings through debate and composition, to present his arguments well, and to use every available means of persuasion to do so.

(I won’t repeat my ‘are we talkin’? bit here…but it does seem like a handwriting-on-the-wall kind of scenario…)

Other phases of classical education involved the study of history as a context, illustrating political and military developments. The presentation of situational conflicts and problems leading to their own answers through forward-moving actions was a primary result of such teaching. And I don’t think you can get much more ‘forward-moving action’ than a revolution for independence from tyranny. How interesting is it that the study of what has gone before can be what leads us into our future.

Included in a classical education was the concept of ‘paideia’, a Greek word meaning ‘education’ or ‘instruction’. Greek citizens of ancient times believed in self-government, therefore such instruction was, rather than for an art or a trade, instruction for liberty. ‘Paideia’ encompasses more than this one aspect, but my point is that the seed of liberty was being planted and watered in young Jefferson’s thinking.


While at William & Mary College, Jefferson enrolled in the philosophy school there, and was introduced to the writings of John Locke (1632 – 1704). Among other things, Locke was an ‘opposition political activist, and finally a revolutionary whose cause ultimately triumphed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.’ (link) Sound at all familiar? Though I have not read any of his writings (yet), this source tells us that Locke’s work “is characterized by opposition to authoritarianism. This opposition is both on the level of the individual person and on the level of institutions such as government and church.” Again…familiar? Locke advocated the use of reason to seek truth, thereby determining legitimate versus illegitimate functions for institutions, thus leading to optimal individual and societal well-being.

Even in just brief research on John Locke, I can see how deeply intrigued one could be by his writings, and how profoundly affected. As, it appears, was Thomas Jefferson.

There is, of course, more – much more – to say about this subject of Thomas Jefferson’s education, and I may continue in this vein in my next post. Jefferson is constantly cited as being a man of the Enlightenment, and perhaps that will be next…

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…

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More to come on “What Thomas Jefferson Learned…”

What Thomas Jefferson Thought…

“…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12: 2, KJV)

What and how a person thinks is all-important. What an individual produces is a direct result of what is going on in his or her mind, whether the result is audible, tangible, or eventful. Even a habit is a product of what we have already done based on something we have already thought (decided).

So perhaps you can see why the Apostle Paul would’ve issued the above instruction.

And which is why I marvel at a Thomas Jefferson, a man who was primarily an ideologist (Max Lerner, Thomas Jefferson : America’s Philosopher-King), being such a major player in our national beginnings. I marvel at a God who placed such a man in such a place at a time when ideas were THE most crucial element in the ongoing development and continued existence of this young nation. (You cannot tell me, not now, not ever, that God was not involved to the hilt in bringing forth this country, in sustaining it, and in being the Source of its liberty.)

Okay, before I launch into preaching mode, or get side-tracked again by current events…..back to Jefferson and his ideas. (And, uh…I probably will end up in preaching mode anyway…).

“It was not inevitable that upon liberation from English domination America should become a self-governing republic. (Edward Dumbauld, Introduction, Jefferson: His Political Writings). George Washington had similar concerns. In his ‘Advice to the United States’, written at the end of the Revolutionary War, then General Washington wrote, “…yet it appears to me there is an option still left to the United States of America…whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a nation; this is the time of their political probation…it is yet to be decided, whether the Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing or a curse.” (Harrison & Gilbert, George Washington : In His Own Words ) Now, today, it’s easy to automatically assume that, once the battles ended, once Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, the colonies were home free. Troubles over, right? But actually, a whole new series of potentially devastating troubles awaited, possible scenarios that needed to be skillfully avoided. An effective system of government needed to be developed.

While reading along these lines, I came across a list of types of government that have existed throughout the course of history. Thirty-eight, to be exact. (According to my list…) And some of ’em had sub-categories. Some I had never heard of, and a couple I wasn’t even sure how to pronounce! Others intrigued me – for instance, when I have time, I’d like to learn a bit more about ‘minarchism/night watchman’. How does a night watchman constitute a form of government? But I digress…

Americans were looking to establish the best and most perfect form of government possible. We still seek that today in that, though already established, the people and their government continue, daily, to operate within those forms and systems, yet adjusting, honing, and fine-tuning when so judged to be necessary. Far, far more than perhaps most Americans know, we owe these forms and systems to Thomas Jefferson and his ideas. The more I learn about him, the more I am stunned to my core as I see just how much we owe…

Though later in his life, Jefferson expressed in a letter his enduring belief that the equal rights and happiness of each individual are the only legitimate reasons for government. He believed that the main object of scientific study, as well, was the freedom and happiness of man. In contrast to these beliefs, while serving as the American ambassador to France earlier in his career, he saw in Europe a polar opposite, serving only to strengthen his convictions concerning rightful government. In a letter to George Washington, Jefferson wrote: “I was much an enemy to monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand times more so, since I have seen what they are.” (Edward Dumbauld, Thomas Jefferson : American Tourist ). Embedded in Jefferson was his passion for freedom, and seeing European ” governments of force” , “…nations of eternal war…energies expended in the destruction of the…lives of their people” served to ensure that such passion was embedded forever. (Dumbauld)

It would have been within the realm of possibility that another monarchy might arise. It was not guaranteed that a democratic form of government would develop. And even though a single governing body, rather than many separate entities, may have been formed, the resulting structure may not necessarily have been based on the will of the people. According to Edward Dumbauld, editor of The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson, it is because of Jefferson’s influence that American today is not ” an autocratic or tyrannical national government”. It is because of Jefferson’s influence, in large part, that today, over two hundred years later, Americans still reap the blessings and the fruit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a land where its government is, as the closing words of the Gettysburg Address resound, “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

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Thank you for stopping by, and please return for my next post, in which I’ll hopefully continue to show how Thomas Jefferson’s thinking helped shape our system of government. And, since I never entered ‘preaching mode’ after all, maybe a bit of that, too…

Christina