"Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth."
— Thomas Jefferson
This week, the entire episode — well, almost the entire episode — is devoted to answering letters from listeners. Questions received include the story of Jefferson’s many talents, whether or not Jefferson had a bust of Alexander Hamilton at Monticello, and how to re-create experiments from Jefferson’s age.
- Video: A tour of Clay's garden, May 2017.
- Thomas Jefferson, directed by Ken Burns
- Internet Archive: Life of Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States by James Parton
- The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America by Steven Johnson
- The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food by Janisse Ray
- The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
- George Washington by Jean-Antoine Houdon
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Jefferson said the only real record of his life was in his correspondence. He was one of the great letter writers of history. He chose his words carefully. His handwriting was so exquisite that it feels like artwork, like Sage of Monticello calligraphy. He lavished attention on his letters, sought maximum resonance and harmony with his thousands of correspondents, some of whom he never met, wrote carefully, thoughtfully, generously, with history in mind and yet he never wrote self-consciously for posterity. He turned phrases better than any other American public figure except Abraham Lincoln. Imagine what it must have been like to receive a letter from America’s da Vinci.
Read this week's Jefferson Watch essay, "A Word or Two Before You Go".