#1279 The Art of the Letter

Every letter has a basis and a purpose … I spent an enormous amount of time thinking about the recipient.
— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

We speak this week with President Jefferson about the art of letter writing. Prompted by a letter from a listener, Jefferson shares his insights on the process. The exact number of letters Jefferson wrote is not known, but it is safe to say he wrote in excess of 20,000.

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This week's episode was inspired by a letter from Cameron Shorkey

Further Reading


An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains

The Jefferson Watch

Jefferson’s letters are essentially works of art. If genius is “an infinite capacity for taking pains,” Jefferson was a genius, because he approached letter writing with the same commitment to excellence and mastery of detail as he did architecture, library science, paleontology, brick-making, and everything else in his long and amazing life. It would be impossible to imagine Jefferson with messy handwriting. It would literally be out of character for him. His letters are a window on his soul, and his soul was orderly.

Read this week's Jefferson Watch essay, "An Infinite Capacity for Taking Pains."

What Would Jefferson Do?

It’s hard to believe that a great nation can go about its important public business on 280 characters.
— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

Tune in to your local public radio or join the 1776 Club to hear this episode of What Would Thomas Jefferson Do?

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