An Exact Portrait Of The People At Large…

Thomas Jefferson John Adams

This post is a little history lesson for you about some of our founding fathers and the philosophical stands they took. The particular focus of this post is about what they thought about those who represent us in our governing ourselves.

I have read many books about Thomas Jefferson in my lifetime. He was the most prolific author of all the presidents past and especially present. In fact the library of Congress was started with his extensive Monticello library. But until the last decade or so I really didn’t know much about the president between Washington and Jefferson.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson disagreed on many aspects of government but one thing they agreed on was who should represent us in government. In the beginning of our country’s foundation Adams wrote that the legislature should be in miniature “an exact portrait of the people at large — it should think, feel, reason and act like them.” Thomas Jefferson totally agreed with this concept.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if finally in the 21st century, we could live up to that idea? Given that the country’s rating of congress is about 20% and yet 90% of those who represent us are kept in office election after election! If our government were indeed a miniature mirror of the country it wouldn’t be filled with row after row of old white men such as me.

There would be more consensus around universal access to college and medical care in this country. Much more would be happening to protect our environment for those who come after us.

It is ironic that Jefferson and Adams were most often on opposite sides of issues and yet after they were out of office they became long time friends and shared thousands of letter for the next fifty years or so. Maybe that is a lesson we could also learn from them?

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