Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that, “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?”
This week we discuss the American character with President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson believed that the American character would be the best in the history of the world: because of our agrarianism, our distance from the havoc of the Old World, our public education, and our resourcefulness that we needed to develop because there were no outside experts. While Adams felt that without a strong American character, "the strongest Cords of our Constitution [would be broken] as a Whale goes through a Net." John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were dear friends; they disagreed about many things. One thing they agreed upon was that this experiment would only work if we had unique character.
"The Vice Presidency turned out to be just what Jefferson had predicted: 'philosophic evenings in winter' and summers at his beloved Monticello." — Clay
This week on the Thomas Jefferson Hour, we return to "Jefferson 101", our biographical series. Reluctantly, Jefferson came out of retirement to serve as vice president for four years under his old friend John Adams. They were of different political persuasions and they, in a sense, became the heads of different political parties. Adams & Jefferson were friends when Jefferson's vice presidency began but there was a long period afterwards when they couldn't really abide each other; in the end, in 1812, their friendship was restored and it became one of the great reconciliations of American history. During his vice presidency, Jefferson contributed a rule book to the Senate: A Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States.
Jefferson meant it: He preferred the happiness of Monticello to the burdens of power — but he loved this country more than he loved his own happiness.