"I think that's what Jefferson's attitude was: 'I'd rather not, but I'm probably the best person to do it.'"
We return to our Jefferson 101 series this week with an episode about Jefferson’s road to the White House. Over the past few months, we've carried Jefferson from his birth in Virginia in 1743 right up to the brink of the time when he became the third president of the United States. We take for granted how our elections work. Back then, they didn't really have a blueprint: no conventions, no caucuses, no primaries, no debates. It was an informal system and we try to sort out how a reluctant person like Jefferson winds up being the president.
"Jefferson regarded the national debt as a national disgrace." Clay
This week, President Jefferson (as portrayed by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson) explains his reasoning behind his federal budget and why he felt it was essential to pay down the national debt that he inherited. We also learn about some of the people who helped Jefferson develop the budget, including Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin.
Jefferson dedicated his administration to reducing the national debt as severely as possible. As always, there are parallels between Jefferson's time and ours. He wanted to cut taxes and the size of the federal government, but he also wanted to cut the size of the Army and Navy; you don't hear that kind of talk much in our time. In this case, Jefferson was an idealogue about fiscal responsibility.