Washington DC – Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson was perhaps the most eloquent of the founding fathers. He spent his life before and after the White House with books and his writing. Even though it is a little out of the way of the other memorials don’t miss it if you are touring DC.
Somewhere in the Hinterland – Barn
If Thomas Jefferson had his way we would still be a nation of farmers. He simply did not trust the monied interests in his time.
Monticello, VA – Jefferson
I can’t image what America would be today without the words and ideas of Thomas Jefferson. For anyone who has visited my main blog at RJsCorner knows that he is one of my primary heroes. The sculpture above is just outside the visitor’s center at Monticello. In some very insignificant ways I like to think of myself as a chip off his shoulder. He was not afraid to think and speak of things that needed to be said. He was not without his dark side but are any of us really?
I sincerely believe . . . that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.
Thomas Jefferson in a letter 12 June 1815
Anyone that has studied Jefferson to any degree knows that he was an agrarian. That is he believed in power to the people, particularly the farmers who were the majority of the population in his day. He seemed to have a standing feud with Hamilton about this topic.
I, like Jefferson, believe that almost all the power in a society should reside with the citizens but unfortunately in today’s world our financial institutions and the 1% of the population that control them seem to have kidnapped a large share of power. Another famous quote from Jefferson was that a democracy depends on an informed electorate. If only people were to realize that with their votes they have the capability to radically transform this condition. If, as the polls indicate, the vast majority of us believe that our present government is totally dysfunctional we could sweep out 85% of them within the next two months. Wouldn’t that send a message to those gridlocked groups who say they represent us. If only our actions backed up our words things would change and change quickly.
I have ever deemed it fundamental for the United States never to take active part in the quarrels of Europe. Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign to us. They are nations of eternal war.
--A Thomas Jefferson Letter, 11 June 1823, to President James Monroe
Thomas Jefferson just didn’t trust government very much. He was always skeptical that they would get us involved in things we had no business being involved in. The constant wars in Europe were one of those things to be avoided at almost all costs. In the intervening two-hundred years much has changed with the world. It has definitely gotten smaller such that anything happening anywhere can affect others in at least some way. But, I kind of think that Jefferson’s words above still apply today especially in the Middle East.
The Middle Eastern countries including all those we have spent trillions of dollars trying to reform are fundamentally different from the U.S. As Jefferson said their mutual jealousies, their balance of power and their forms of government and particularly religious beliefs are very foreign to what we practice in this country. We can spend trillions of trillions of dollars and thousands of our kids lives trying to make it otherwise but that just won’t happen. If only we would recognize that fact we would save ourselves much agony.
There have been many “doctrines” in this country. The Monroe Doctrine, The Marshal Plan, The Bush Doctrine (I don’t think Obama has a doctrine except maybe “send in the drones”) but I believe the only successful plan for our times is :
We will leave you alone if you leave us alone
But of course our dependence on their oil reserves negates that possibility. Maybe we need another wall? The Wall of China was meant to keep out foreign invaders. The Iron Curtain was meant to separate two very different doctrines. Maybe it is time for a Islamic Wall to separate us from all those constantly feuding religious doctrines of the Middle East? Maybe if we get out of their business they will get out of ours. It worth a try….
I wish President Bush and many of those presidents before him had taken the words of Jefferson to heart before they did many of the things they did. I know it is against basic human nature to not utilize the power you control. Just look at all those yahoos in congress to see an example of abused power.
I have read quite extensively on Jefferson so I know the words above were at the heart of his nature.
OOPS – I guess I was in too much a hurry to get this weekend quote out and forgot to add the quote!!! Sorry about that. Can’t find it now. But isn’t that a nice life size bronze of Jefferson at the visitors center outside Monticello. :)