Tag: Thomas Jefferson

Quote of the Day: Jesus and the Adulteress


It is an essential story of Jesus’ ministry. From John 8:

“3Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
4they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.
5“Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.d But what do You say?”
6This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
7So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
8And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
12Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, Roy Moore … and the Culture Wars


The usual names that come up when a Conservative thinks about Cancel Culture or the Culture Wars in general: Saul Alinsky, Herbert Marcuse, Antonio Gramsci, etc.

My thoughts on Cancel Culture made some other names pop up in my head; Roy Moore, Ed Stack, Brett Kavanaugh, Ben Shapiro, Andrew Breitbart, Stanley Kurtz, Thomas Jefferson, Jared Polis, Michael Corleone, John Roberts, Heather Mac Donald, Ronald Reagan, Michael Lind, etc.

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Ace of Spades links to a recent article at the Federalist by David Marcus, in which he notes of conservatives who have offered little resistance to the toppling of certain statues: [A]fter you write your little op-ed about how of course the evil Confederate statues have to come down, they still think you’re a racist. […]

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Among These Rights


We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, That to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Among these. A government that doesn’t secure for its citizens the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is illegitimate. Ol’ Tommy J. was specific about that point when he penned the Declaration. But he implies the existence of others. Heck, he does more than imply it; let me quote from further down the Declaration, in the list of complaints:

Quote of the Day – The Meaning of Laws


“Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.” – Thomas Jefferson

The good news for woke activists judges and the Living Constitution advocates is that Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder and therefore anything he says that disagrees with their viewpoint can be disregarded. And certainly they will disagree with this – that the plain wording of the law is the plain meaning of the law. It was the foundation rock of this republic; the rock Progressives are trying to dissolve to sand.

Progress, Immigration, and the Question of Rule


One of the complaints in the Declaration of Independence addresses the king’s position on immigration. Let’s have a look, shall we?

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States, for that reason obstruction the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

Formidable to Tyrants Only


The title comes from the Declaration of Independence. Third on the list of grievances, Ol’ Tommy J. has this to say:

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

Deep Dive on the Declaration of Independence and Its Relevance Today


In honor of Independence Day, for this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast I take a deep dive into the Declaration of Independence, discussing:

  • Its unique place in human history and the cause of freedom
  • The link between natural law and natural rights, faith and freedom
  • The Founders’ emphasis on virtue and morality to sustain a free system of limited government
  • Parallels between the charges laid out against King George III in the Declaration and modern America from the administrative state to sanctuary cities
  • The Founders’ views on slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and failing to live up to the values and principles of the Declaration
  • The imperative to defend liberty against tyranny
  • And much more

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found or download the episode directly here.

Lionized in print and on theater stages, Alexander Hamilton is a curious bookend for a new president who likewise calls Manhattan home, is steeped in capitalism, and uses the media to joust with his rivals. Elizabeth Cobbs, a Hoover Institution senior fellow and author of The Hamilton Affair: A Novel, separates fact from fiction regarding the famed Founding Father.

Quote of the Day: Common Sense


Today’s quote is again from the movie musical 1776. It comes at the point in the story where John Adams and Ben Franklin, desperately looking for a way to delay a vote on independence that they know they will lose, propose the writing of a Declaration of the colonist’s intent. Pressed by the other delegates for an explanation of why the Declaration is necessary, Adams and Franklin are foundering, unable to come up with a satisfactory answer, until Thomas Jefferson steps up and saves them, saying:

“To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.”

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“To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the […]

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The Twenty-Four-Year Itch Revisited


24 FlagIn a piece posted two weeks ago, “Donald Trump and the Twenty-Four-Year Itch,” I claimed to have seen this movie before more than once: Twenty-four years ago, when Ross Perot led an insurgency, and twenty-four years before that when, as a cub reporter, I covered the George Wallace campaign as it unfolded in Oklahoma. It was my contention, then, and is my contention now that, in American politics, things tend to come apart roughly every 24 years — which is to say, once a generation — when a neglected part of the electorate erupts in fury at our masters in DC.

In the interim, I have found myself musing about the Trump phenomenon time and again, and I am prepared to defend the following hypothesis — that something of the sort has recurred every quarter-century or so in this country now for nearly 250 years.

In 1776, for example, there was a real revolution directed at our masters in London. In 1800, there was, so Thomas Jefferson tells us, a second revolution, when his Republicans ousted the Federalist Party from power. There was another such event in 1824 when Andrew Jackson outpolled John Quincy Adams. That development did not reach fruition until 1828 when he replaced Adams, but the writing was on the wall in 1824. The era in which the grandees of the revolutionary generation dominated American politics was over.

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Benjamin Franklin drew as his design for the Great Seal of America, a picture of the Egyptians (i.e. the English) drowning in the Red Sea (i.e. the Atlantic), with the caption, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Thomas Jefferson was so struck by the sentence that he recommended it to be used on the […]

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I’m reading now Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West. At one point he quotes Lewis and Clark scholar Donald Jackson about what Thomas Jefferson, who knew about as much as anyone about North American geography at the time, believed in 1801 about America: “That the Blue […]

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To Defend Religious Liberty Today


shutterstock_159174965Thomas Jefferson was brilliant and essential, but he has never been my hero among the Founding Fathers. As such, it caught me off guard when I found myself deeply moved at the memorial that honors him in our capital. Even crowded by tourists, it feels a little set apart, a peaceful spot from which one can look out across the Tidal Basin and reflect on this city and nation of ours and on Jefferson’s words on freedom cut into the surrounding walls. Words that were true when first written, though not fully realized in law. Words that are true now, even if the laws should abandon them utterly.

Almighty God hath created the mind free.

Inscribed under the dome is Jefferson’s vow of “eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” He wrote this to Benjamin Rush in 1800, nearly a decade after the ratification of the 1st Amendment designed to protect against such tyranny. Even this master of words knew that — in the end — words on paper could not alone secure liberty. Such is human nature, and such is the power of ideas gone wrong.

TJ or TR?


JeffersonThe filmmaker Ken Burns has a new documentary coming out this week called The Roosevelts, which profiles Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor. This prompted a discussion on the latest episode of The Thomas Jefferson Hour podcast. Humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson (who portrays Thomas Jefferson on the show) also portrays Theodore Roosevelt and has participated in several of Burns’ documentaries, including this latest.

TRThe discussion on the show was about what these two men would have thought of each other. Because Jefferson died 32 years before Roosevelt was born, we don’t know how he would have viewed his fellow president. But since TR wrote plenty and wasn’t exactly shy, we do know what he thought about Jefferson. He was… not a fan.  

As TR put it, Jefferson’s “influence upon the United States as a whole was very distinctly evil.” Jefferson’s modesty in foreign policy was not to Roosevelt’s taste. Jefferson believed in limited government, Roosevelt — not so much.  Jefferson saw the Constitution as listing what the federal government could do. Theodore Roosevelt saw the Constitution as saying what it couldn’t do.

Bring Back That Old-Time Elitism


In 1780, François de Barbé Marbois, a French diplomat, sent a series of questions to each of the 13 states. His goal: To compile a report, to be sent back to Paris, on the economic life of the new country. In Virginia, the questions were forwarded to the state’s governor, Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson’s answers were eventually published as Notes on the State of Virginia. Among its most famous passages is Jefferson’s paean to agriculture: