Thomas Jefferson goes on the road this week to Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. The performance was taped live at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on September 15, 2018 in front of an audience of over 500 people. The event was hosted by Dustin Treiber, the program director of Four States Public Radio station KRPS.
The subject of this episode was the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson, to begin the conversation, pointed out to the citizens of Kansas that he bought the state for three cents per acre from Napoleon Bonaparte.
Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography by Merrill Peterson
What Would Jefferson Do?
The following is a rush transcript:
David Swenson: 00:00:00 Good day, Thomas Jefferson Hour podcast listeners, and welcome to this week's edition and it's a real fun one, and it's long.
Clay S. Jenkinson: 00:00:08 Well we added some extra content because I was on the road in a concert edition of the Jefferson Hour. Sometimes public radio stations around the country do a live, as if live, performance of the Jefferson Hour where there's a local host in this case, it was a man named Dustin Treiber in Pittsburg, Kansas and they go on because this is an evening when 500 people have driven to this performing arts center
DS: 00:00:34 the University of Kansas at Pittsburg
CSJ: 00:00:37 and Pittsburg without an "h", so the US postal system at one point tried to eliminate confusion, so they took the "h" off of this Pittsburg. It's an old coal mining district, beautiful part of southeastern Kansas, I actually flew to Springfield in Missouri and then drove in a rental car through some of the most beautiful farm country in North America.
DS: 00:00:58 You were amazed at this new facility. It's just a world class -
CSJ: 00:01:03 I go all over and I perform in all sorts of places and I'm always happy in a small theater or a ramshackle old proscenium theater, town hall in, in Seattle. And so every sort of venue that you can imagine. So I didn't have very high expectations because - an auditorium is an auditorium, and they take me there and it is this world class gleaming aluminum and glass place.
DS: 00:01:28 Well, I, I can say as an audio guy, the, the recording of the performance that they sent to us to, uh, to broadcast this week was just pristine and one of the best ever.
CSJ: 00:01:41 It was so much fun to be on that stage and look out. And I thought, oh, it's a tiny place in southeastern Kansas. A couple of hundred people might come, maybe you know, and there were 500 people and the energy you can say you can feel -
DS: 00:01:56 And yeah, like I said earlier, you really good at this. I mean, I can, I can understand why you're in such demand to do this, but um, I, I need to follow up on that recording and, and I don't know who to to thank, but I, I, I really do appreciate them -
CSJ: 00:02:14 The good folks at KRPS did the engineering and Dustin Treiber is one of their people and the Jefferson Hour is, is, is not exactly his portfolio, but he rose to the challenge and it was fantastic.
DS: 00:02:26 Let me take this task away from you and pitch may I? You do these kinds of fundraisers, live performances all over the country and you're really good at it. And if people are interested, they should go to Jefferson Hour.com and contact us and somebody will get, get back to you
CSJ: 00:02:46 And let me say about the cultural tours. January - two of them are mid January, Lochsa lodge, this fabulous resort west of Missoula, Montana. It's not cold. There's no wind. It's Balmy, almost. Open fires around the campfire every night out amongst the great pine tree - first one water in the west.
DS: 00:03:08 And program alert a couple of weeks from now. We're going to have an interview with Char Miller and the third edition of Ogallala -
CSJ: 00:03:16 the aquifer out in Kansas, but this is about the Colorado water project. Marc Reisner's, great book, Cadillac Desert, the whole world of the future of water given global climate change and the population surges in the American southwest,
DS: 00:03:29 And then Shakespeare
CSJ: 00:03:29 and the Missouri River. And then the next one, this is the next one. They're back to back at this lodge. They're four days each and the next one is Shakespeare without tears back by popular demand and people - Some people say, is this going to be intimidating as - you know is - I don't want to go to something where it's going to be like, I feel like I'm stupid. No, these are so informal. There's a ton of laughter. We have the greatest possible time and it is not intimidating and it's just open discussion about important themes in American history through the lens of these books about water in the West and then four or five of Shakespeare's -
DS: 00:04:03 And then you and Russ Eagle
CSJ: 00:04:04 Going to Monterrey in California for the second Steinbeck trip. March two through eight. Two thousand 19 out in California.
DS: 00:04:13 And then lastly
CSJ: 00:04:16 Jefferson and France
DS: 00:04:17 which we about half of the email we get now is about -
CSJ: 00:04:21 That will be in October. We're just pricing it.
DS: 00:04:23 You're going to have to do two or three
CSJ: 00:04:24 Or 10. Well, I can't wait to take our listeners to Jefferson's France, but they should warm up with these winter encampments at Lochsa Lodge and let me just say I'm not going to go far with this, but Russ Eagle, you mentioned, you remember on a program, I said I hauled him up a mountain. Remember that? Well, he took umbrage and he has now challenged me. He hired a lawyer, another listener by the name of Joe from Texas. Joe has sent me a demand letter saying that I must either apologize or disappear forever into the mist. Russ, I just saw last week at Monticello and Russ said, alright, buddy. Grudge match.
DS: 00:05:07 They can go see the steinbeck thing and then witness, uh, like a Hamilton/Burr duel.
CSJ: 00:05:11 No, it was worse. He wants a return hike up Mount Whitney - if he wins - I have to give him my 13 volume addition of the Oxford English dictionary
DS: 00:05:25 To be continued
CSJ: 00:05:28 If I win he has to get me the obelisk clock from the foot of Jefferson's bed, the replica, at Monticello, it's a grudge match. And, and so now we're training.
DS: 00:05:35 Hey, you're breaking up.
CSJ: 00:05:37 Yeah, but you see what happens. Insult Crisler. You don't get the gifts. If you insult Russ, even though - then he gets all out of shape and Joe Lovell's calling me with demand letters.
DS: 00:05:51 So here we go. Now to Kansas. It's a real fun show. I hope you enjoy it. And again, we will say we, we, it's a long one because the performance was about 90 minutes and we decided not to edit it down, but just run the whole -
CSJ: 00:06:04 Gamut of it.
DS: 00:06:06 And so we hope you enjoy it. And a quick program alert. Next week we're going to be rejoined by our good friend, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and the National Book Award Winner, Joe Ellis, who personally told me to call him Joe.
CSJ: 00:06:20 American dialogue. The founding fathers and us -
DS: 00:06:23 He has a new book coming out in the next week or two.
CSJ: 00:06:25 You have a. You have a pristine copy in front of you.
DS: 00:06:28 I do because his publicist sent me -
CSJ: 00:06:29 I got this little blue thing, the draft,
DS: 00:06:34 It's a great book, American dialogue, and that'll be next week's show just so if you're interested.
CSJ: 00:06:39 Thanks for listening. Let's go now to the show.
Dustin Treiber: 00:06:45 Well thank you ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Thomas Jefferson Hour. You're a weekly conversation with President Thomas Jefferson. Mr Jefferson is portrayed by humanitarian scholar, author and creator of the Thomas Jefferson Hour Mr Clay Jenkinson. My name is Dustin Treiber. I'm the KRPS program director. I'll be your host today and we're recording live at the Bicknell family center for the arts. We are on the beautiful campus at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas - the extreme southeast Kansas, for those listening who don't know where we are, so without further ado, I want to welcome President Thomas Jefferson.
DT: 00:07:39 Good day, Mr Jefferson.
CSJ as TJ: 00:07:40 Oh, good day to all of you citizens. I must say. I am so pleased to be invited to this deep into the American west, as you know, I'm regarded as the foremost architect of our westward expansion, but I never traveled farther than 75 miles west of my birthplace in Virginia. And so I bought Kansas but I never saw it. And so it's a, it's a real pleasure to be able to be here and to greet all of you. I have one concern as I begin. And I, I thought a lot about the American west. I wrote extensively about it and I actually believed that any creature once created probably still existed. I did not understand evolution and I did not believe in extinction. And so I actually urged Meriwether Lewis and other of my explorer friends, to look for the woolly mammoth in the American west or the mastodon or the megalonyx and hope that they would find evidence that those creatures still grazed somewhere on the great plains. They unfortunately did not bring back any evidence of the mammoth or the mastodon. But you can imagine my surprise when I arrived here and learned that you still have gorillas here. My young friend, Meriwether Lewis, did not describe that.
DT: 00:09:29 We're very proud of our gorillas here at Pittsburg State University. Mr Jefferson are our topic tonight that we'll be talking quite a bit about is the Louisiana purchase. So you purchased Kansas along with, uh, our, our KRPS listeners. Here's in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. So we're smack Dab in the Louisiana territory, which I think most people remember back in high school is, was New Orleans stretching up to the Canadian border and doubled the size of the United States. It was bought from France, from Napoleon for 15 million dollars. And was one of your huge accomplishments during your presidency and that's probably about all I remember about, but there's an amazing chain of events that caused all this to benefit the United States. So in, in your words, Mr Jefferson, can you tell us a little bit about this major purchase of Kansas and the surrounding area?
CSJ as TJ: 00:10:22 Well, first let me say that I don't take particular credit for the Louisiana purchase. It happened on my watch. It happened in 1803 while I was serving my first of two terms as president, but I hadn't actually intended to buy that territory from Napoleon. When I became president, I inherited a foreign policy problem and that is that the Mississippi river was being closed periodically by the French or the Spanish or both. And it seemed to me that under natural law the river should stay open. But it certainly was important to our economy. Fully three eighths of our territory was watered by the Mississippi River. And you need to understand that in my time rivers were roads and roads were rivers. So our produce, our wheat and our corn and our tobacco and our cattle and our timber and so on were finding their way to market down the Ohio and the Tennessee and, but particularly the Mississippi and if there is a foreign power like France or Spain in New Orleans and they can shut the river off at any point that could strangle the American economy. And so I felt, under the commerce clause of the constitution, that I had a duty to try to open the river. So I actually convinced Congress to be willing to spend $6,000,000 to buy the village of New Orleans. If we could buy New Orleans, we could station troops there and we could keep the river open. Or if the French or the Spanish were not willing to sell, then perhaps we could buy another port somewhere in the delta of the Mississippi. Well, I sent my young protege, James Monroe over to France to work with our ambassador there are, our diplomat there, a man named Robert Livingston. And they offered to buy New Orleans for up to 6 million. Napoleon in this very odd counter offer, instead of selling me New Orleans for $6,000,000, offered to sell me the Louisiana territory for 15.6 million. So I was going to buy a village for 6 million. Instead, I bought an empire for liberty for three times that amount. I bought 575 million acres for three cents per acre. Think of that. I bought 575 million acres for three cents per acre, 828,000 square miles, as you said, it doubled the size of our Republic, it meant that our eastern shore was the Atlantic and our western boundary was now the continental divide of the rocky mountains of the West, and so I don't take any particular credit because I didn't really intend it. I knew that in the long run the Americans would control everything from the Atlantic to the Pacific, that it's. It was inevitable that, that, that our extraordinary experiment in self-government would find its way from Frontier Ridge to frontier ridge all the way to the Pacific. But I saw that as hundreds of years down the line, and I will tell you in all honesty that I'm - I hope you are too. I'm a strict constructionist. I want our constitution to be literally in narrowly interpreted and it seemed to me that the Louisiana purchase was probably unconstitutional. So I fretted about this. I didn't know whether to turn down the offer, but James Madison, my secretary of state, always a more pragmatist than I was. He said to me, Mr Jefferson make the purchase on behalf of the future of human liberty and we will finesse the constitutional question somehow, um, but, but I did not like that because if you, if you move into Mr Hamilton's world of broad construction, implied powers and so on, then you may as well write your constitution on wax and stretch it into any shape that pleases you from moment to moment. Our peculiar security is having a written constitution and to take a single step beyond its boundaries is to enter a world of, of metaphysics. And so I actually wrote two draft constitutional amendments that summer in 1831 to authorize the purchase and the other one to authorize the incorporation of these places by way of New Territories and eventually do states like Kansas. And I was wanting to let the people decide, let you the sovereign decide if you wanted to expand the constitution for this, what I called fugitive occurrence. But as I say, Mr Madison said, I don't think anyone is going to be sorry that you did this. And so on that basis I accepted it. [Inaudible question from the audience.]
CSJ as TJ: 00:16:01 Yes, but, but the minute, I hope you will agree with me, the minute your national government begins to look for loopholes and to find ways to do things that weren't intended by the founding fathers and to stretch this and to twist that, then you begin to live in a, in a, in a society where there are no controls on the size of government and I hope you all agree that that government is best which governs least, and it's in our interest to make sure that government does not begin to do things that we have not as a people authorized it to do.
DT: 00:16:42 And just playing devil's advocate though, sometimes - it worked out for the best, I guess is the best way of saying it though. It is kind of a necessary evil almost.
CSJ as TJ: 00:16:52 That cannot be your constitutional theory.
DT: 00:16:54 Sure.
CSJ as TJ: 00:16:54 It worked out for the best. I take your point.
DT: 00:17:00 Um, if we can go back to a little bit of the history of the Louisiana territory, it switched hands. It was discovered in, I guess, claimed by the French
CSJ as TJ: 00:17:09 Or the French and the Spanish, a number of, of, of different foreign - This was called the doctrine of discovery, so when the French arrived or the Spanish arrived with English arrive, they would plant a flag and do a ceremony and build a stockade and then this would give them under international law claims to these territories. And so we had never claimed the Louisiana territory. Um, when, when the, when the revolution ended, the treaty brought us everything up to the Mississippi River, which was a huge Republic. We thought it would take decades, maybe centuries to fill that republic. It did not. I'm sorry that it didn't. I know I'm getting ahead of you, but I was, I was involved in a project in 1784 to create a plan for the new states that would come from the west. We had the original 13 and then beyond the Appalachians, it was inevitable. The new states would come and it seemed to me that we hadn't yet developed them and we could do this rationally. And so I actually laid out a plan that when there was the minimum population number, that place could become a territory. And when it reached the population of the least populated existing state it could sue for statehood and it had every republican form of government and so on and so forth. There would be school land set aside for public education. But here's what I thought was so, so interesting. I laid down the rectangular survey grid system that you all live under where the square miles and the townships and 640 acres and 40 and so on. That rectilinear grid is one of the great rational moments in human history. From Monticello, I laid down this geometric grid and essentially every acre in Kansas has been determined by that moment of rational plannin. On the old metes and bounds system. If you and I were next to each other and the boundary was the tree and the tree was blown over in a tornado, we might be in a dispute, but under my system, if we got into a dispute, we'd call in a geometrician and he would tell us instantly whose property is which. And so this is rational. Well, I wanted to go farther actually said to George Washington now it would be the time to adopt a decimal metric system. If we do it now. Don't you agree? If we had done it then think how much happier you would be if you had a decimal metric system, and I said every state west of the Appalachians can now be a square and identical in size because you know the. If you've studied the constitutional convention, the big problem was the big states versus the little states, Rhode Island versus Pennsylvania, and it nearly broke down several times over this issue - Virginia, the most populous state, the largest state, and then you know, pitiful little Delaware. We eventually had to give them two senators to cheer them up, which is not one man, one vote at all. And so I thought we can fix this in the west. Every new state will be identical in size and perfectly square. Imagine how rational that would have been. And I actually laid out the first 14 in the Ohio valley and gave them names from classical literature and from native American Culture. Pelisipia via Metro Batavia and Metropotamia, Polypotamia, Michigania, Sylvania. Perfectly Square. And the only problem then was the irrationality of the Great Lakes because you can imagine, I actually said we could work with Britain to square them off above the lakes, but if you look at a map of the United States, as you move west, it gets more rational until you get to Colorado and Wyoming and four corners here in Kansas, as you know, you are almost a rectangle and I personally don't know how you sleep at night knowing that there is a sinuous border that does not lend itself to geometry. But you see my point,
DT: 00:21:45 Well that's on the north side of the state. It doesn't really matter to us
CSJ as TJ: 00:21:48 You know, you think I'm joking but I wanted a square America.
DT: 00:21:56 That's ambitious. It really is. So I. it's very good because we do have that squared. Well from most part in Kansas. And it probably helped. I mean Kansas had to be easy to do that too because you know, we just discovered trees.
CSJ as TJ: 00:22:10 It was Meriwether Lewis, my friend went up the Missouri River in 1804. He had been my private secretary in the White House. His mother was a friend of mine. Her name was Lucy Marks, and she raised Turkeys and Hams for the tables of Monticello and she was an herbalist. She, she knew the folk medicine of the Appalachians and taught her son some of that, but at any rate, he. He became my private correspondence secretary when I began serving as president and in February of, of 1801. And I had been dreaming of a reconnaissance mission up the Missouri for most of my life. So I sent him and I urged him to examine the western territories and to determine their suitability for agriculture and to meet the native peoples and to and to enter into peaceful intercourse with them and to measure things and maybe rarer or unusual animals, new plants. He actually brought back descriptions of 172 new plants and 122 new animals including the big horn sheep and the mule deer and, and, and the grizzly bear and something called the prairie dog. And he actually sent me a live prairie dog that came to the White House and I had it on my White House table for several weeks and brought the federalists in to see what they had purchased in the Louisiana territory. But when he got to, he was in Kansas, you know, he was in Missouri just where it touches Kansas. And then he came to what's now Nebraska and what's now South Dakota. And when he got to what's now South Dakota, he entered the truly treeless plains and he was shocked and he actually said in his correspondence with me, it's unclear that this place can ever be settled because we build our houses out of trees and our fences out of trees and we burn firewood. And we, we weren't certain that a place without trees could ever be civilized and maybe the jury is still out. But, we were - But he was very. He ended the book and that he planned to, right after the expedition, there was going to be a dissertation on the treelessness of the planes. He was going to try to make sense of it is a fire, is it soil type? Is that moisture? He. He wasn't quite certain - he, he's he eastern Montana, not Kansas because Kansas, the Kansas that he went through, and he named Independence Kansas by the way, because they were there on independence day. He, he saw this as lush prairie, not true plains. He was in far northeastern Kansas and and he thought this was one of the most fertile places on earth, that sort of garden of Eden, but then when he got the eastern Montana, it was so dry and the grass was - He said it was the, the, the, the height of a, of a bowling green and that the wind blew incessantly and there wasn't a tree in the horizon and he just thought - there were alkaline spoiled. You have them here? These alkaline deposits where the, the little slews dry up. He said no rational being would ever live in such a place.
DT: 00:25:42 So this had to be discouraging. This report.
CSJ as TJ: 00:25:45 Well, yes and no. You know, that's a long way from Virginia. One of the problems that we had to face was how large a country can you hold together, and we were using very primitive infrastructure, you know, we had a few little national trails like the Natchez trace and the national road that went through Pennsylvania, but for the most part, this was a a virgin continent. The rivers had never been channelized. The plow had never broken any of the grasses. The trees had never been cut was said during my time that a squirrel could jump from tree limb to tree limb, all the way from the Chesapeake to the Missouri River, and so this was just this vast primordial landscape and if Montana was desert or Semi-arid, for me looking at this in my own time, that seemed to be hundreds of years in the future, and so I didn't worry very much about that.
DT: 00:26:48 That kind of brings us back again to the original purchase of the Louisiana territory in that - again, France, they, they, they discovered, they kind of mapped out the territory somewhat. They claimed it. They eventually gave it to Spain because they thought it was useless. Again, what their explorers saw was how are we going to use this land, and and then again, Spain eventually trades it to France again and that sets off a chain of events because that was something that you did not know about publicly, although you were started - getting some information about that. Of course Napoleon is at war with - in Europe and so this sets off this chain of events. Now. You were actually a diplomat in France for awhile.
CSJ as TJ: 00:27:36 1784 to 1789. I was a minister plenipotentiary to the courts of Europe and I joined Dr Franklin and John Adams there
DT: 00:27:45 Before Napoleon's time. So you never got to
CSJ as TJ: 00:27:47 I saw the beginning. I was one of the most fortunate enough men. I participated in the small way in our own revolution. And then I had the chance in 1787 to see a much greater revolution in Paris - I mean ours was a benign revolution compared to the French revolution. And, and as you know, the French revolution went in a very destructive direction eventually, descended into a reign of terror in which 10 or 15,000 were beheaded. And there were terrible street riots and a whole series of wars were born of this, that didn't really end until 1815. Um, but when I was there, I left before all this really became chaotic and I was thrilled because I thought that the little flame that we lit on the fourth of July 17, 76, which really was the beginning of a whole new era in human history. When the rights of man were going to be understood for the first time. I thought that little flame had jumped across the Atlantic and now it was going to engulf all of the tyrannies of the old world. And our revolution was going to be the spark that liberated the entire earth. And so I was thrilled at first. Then I saw towards the end of my time in France that it was turning into a very dark direction. And here's, here's the answer to that. We were right. We were ready for liberty because we were highly educated. We were European derived from northern Europe, from England. England had a long tradition of the magna Carta and the bill of rights and the glorious rebellion. And so on, and so we were the inheritors of, uh, of, uh, of, uh, people that had already established liberty, but the French had never known liberty, they'd only known despotism and the people were terribly ignorant and if you expect to be an agent ignorant and free, you expect what never has been and never can be in the history of the world. And so I felt that they weren't ready for our level of freedom that, that what they really needed to do was go to an intermediary phase and then wait a generation or two and then move to greater liberty and eventually they would get to us. But I haven't, I have this stage there. You can't impose democracy on other people. They have to be able to create it out of their own value system.
DT: 00:30:16 And Napoleon, it looked like he was more in the, uh, the market for conquer, conquering the world.
CSJ as TJ: 00:30:24 And he was, he was, uh, the Attila of the age, you know, exactly what I predicted would happen, happened. Unfortunately, that the revolution collapsed. And the military dictator emerged out of it. And he was a psychotic who wanted to control the world and he waged war against everybody and it took from 1799 to 1815 to finally stop it. And that would be one thing if it were just the old world, but it bled over into our world. The French revolution bled over into America and caused enormous political chaos here.
DT: 00:31:02 And, and that's kind of where we get into the meat of the purchase that happened because they had just acquired, again, the Louisiana territory from Spain.
CSJ as TJ: 00:31:13 Well, Napoleon took it from Spain. He just insisted that they cede it back to him,
DT: 00:31:18 that there was a, there was a kind of a one sided trade was there not.
CSJ as TJ: 00:31:21 It was called the treaty of San Ildefonso and he gave them the Spanish almost nothing and took because he wanted to build a new empire. He hit. One of his plans was to start a new Orleans and then to to fill the Louisiana territory with the French. And if he had succeeded, Kansas would be a French speaking colony or a French republic.
DT: 00:31:41 Oui. However, in what maybe saved that was what happened in Haiti or what is now known as Haiti. The French had a colony there. It was a very profitable sugar plantation, but there was an uprising in their slaves - their slaves up rose, really basically slaughtered. I mean it's horribly, horribly bloody but slaughtered you know their slave owners, so Napoleon sends one of the most powerful armadas in the world, navies in the world to Haiti. He wants to. He basically gives them the word or take it over and when you're done, go ahead and head towards New Orleans and see what you can do there.
CSJ as TJ: 00:32:23 The first thing he had to do is quell this rebellion. Then there was a. The conditions of slavery in the Caribbean were infinitely worse than here. It's a bad institution anywhere, but the conditions were appalling and they were working slaves to death and beating them to death and there were disappearances and concentration camps and it was an unspeakable mess. And finally, if you push any people too hard, too long, they will finally rise up. And so there was a black leader by the name of Toussaint Louverture, and he led the black Haitians against the colonial masters and Napoleon decided to quell this rebellion and he sent his best troops with his brother in law to do this, but when they got to Haiti, San Domingo, it was called then, the diseases there, yellow fever and malaria and so on were so horrible that they, they killed off his troops, that he lost the bulk of his best troops to disease and guerrilla warfare. And so when this happened, it was a debacle. It was expensive. It was, it was time consuming. It decimated his armed forces. It disillusioned everyone who was in the field. And so Napoleon finally said, I'm done with it. Let's just sell the territory to the Americans if we can and get something out of it. And we'll revisit this after I conquer Great Britain and Russia.
DT: 00:33:57 And this led to. This, led them to be so enthusiastic about giving it a great deal to the Americans to get that $15 million dollar
CSJ as TJ: 00:34:05 Well, he knew that if - you know the war, so when I became president, the Napoleonic wars had already begun, but there was the peace of Amiens in 1802 and so there was a brief interlude where there was peace. It lasted until 1805 and this was a great boon to us because we were just this infant little republic and we didn't want to be caught in this world. We just wanted to fell trees and create farms and to build a merchant marine and to gain some prosperity and to be drawn into that world war would have been just ruinous for us. And so fortunately there was this three year peace. Well, when he realized he was not going to be able to get to quell this rebellion in Haiti, he decided that he would turn back to his wars in Europe and he needed cash. He was going to break the treaty of Amiens. And so he thought the $15 million he got from us was a lot of money and he knew that once the war started again, the British navy, the biggest in the world, would simply take New Orleans. So he was going to lose it to the Brits. Why not sell it to the yanks? Because then the Brits might still take it, but he got $15 million. So all of this is going on. That's why I say I don't take any credit for this because I was just. I wanted one little thing: to keep the Mississippi River open. I did not want any part of, of European affairs, in my opinion. We are so fortunate to have a 3000 mile moat between us and the old world. The old world is a world of madness and superstition in class hierarchy and religious wars and chaos and nonsense. And we this innocent agrarian people living 3000 miles away from them can kind of rest. We weren't going to have the incessant wars that had rocked Europe for centuries and here. And I take some little credit for this. We separated church and state so that we didn't have the religious wars that had rocked the world for millennia, and so the glory is that you live here in Pittsburg, Kansas. You can worship one God or none or three or Islam or Jehovah or any Christian sect you please, you can be a Unitarian or an atheist or Zoroastrian or a Hindu, and here you have no civil reward and no civil penalty. You are utterly free to worship the God of your choice. Read some history. You're the only nation that's ever had this freedom and it means that we can live in peace and when you walk in the streets of Pittsburg and you see a Catholic or a Methodist, you don't have to fight a duel. You can just tip your hat to them and they go off to their church and you go off to your chapel and everyone lives in harmony because we've decided in America that that's private. What you, what you believe about God and religion is your own and the state, the government has absolutely no right to get in the way between you and the god of your choice. That's the glory of the American system, I think. When I, when I was elderly, I wrote my own epitaph. Um, in fact I want to complain a little bit about Missouri here in a moment. I'm sure that will be congenial to you, but I wrote my own epitaph and I had a plain obelisk designed. I really favor the obelisk as a form and it said here lies Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, the author of the Virginia Statute for religious liberty and the founder of the University of Virginia. Well the second of those, the Virginia statute for religious liberty, this established the Church of England and Virginia, which had previously been a state monopoly. And so then you can worship the god of your choice. And then when I was president, I wrote a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, in which I said, we need a wall of separation between church and state. And that phrase became a kind of a constitutional phrase. So Mr Madison and I were the two founding fathers who were most interested in separation of church and state and I take enormous pride in that one accomplishment, but here's my complaint about Missouri. After my time, the University of Missouri at Columbia was the first public university in the Louisiana territory and because of that they went to Monticello and they took my obelisk and it's on the campus of the University of Missouri at Columbia. Your neighbors are grave robbers. I'm here and I want that obelisk back and if there are some ruffians in the audience, we could meet afterwards and go on a little filibustering mission to Columbia.
DT: 00:39:30 We're about an hour and a half, two hour drive on a vehicle.
CSJ as TJ: 00:39:33 Makes no sense to me. But on a horse, you know, two or three weeks.
DT: 00:39:39 I know people who know people, we can get there pretty quickly tonight.
CSJ as TJ: 00:39:42 We can get that obelisk and at your rate. We could be back at Monticello within what, two or three days? That's justice. I'm serious. I mean, imagine that they took my obelisk and now at monticello my home, there's a replica. I have to live with a replica obelisk. Who were these people?
DT: 00:40:09 Shameful.
CSJ as TJ: 00:40:10 Yes. So - but it was the first public institution in the Louisiana territory. So that's their excuse. But as you can see it, it troubles me somewhat.
DT: 00:40:25 I can understand. I want to swing back one more question about the original
CSJ as TJ: 00:40:30 Then we should turn to the people.
DT: 00:40:31 Sure thing. Sure thing. We will do that. Obviously the nation is still new. We've had at one point, obviously very sour relationship with England. However, when we purchased, when you helped purchase the, uh, the Louisiana territory, we needed money to bring that $15 million dollars. That came from an English bank, correct?
CSJ as TJ: 00:40:54 Well, some. So we had to borrow the money because we didn't have 15.6 million dollars. The budget of the United States during my presidency was 10 million per year. And that came from two sources, from land sales in the west and from duties on luxury items at port like silk scarves and fine wines. And so on, so luxury taxes, not taxes that average Americans would pay, but luxury taxes and then land sales in the west. And that gave us our 10 million per annum. And, and let me say before we go on, I regard Colonel Alexander Hamilton as a brilliant man, not fitted to live in this country. I know you're all in the of this musical. You, you should wean yourself of that sort of thinking. Hamilton was a monarchist. He wanted hereditary monarchy. He called you, the people, the rabble. He said the rabble, they're childlike, incapable of self government. They must be governed by what he called the wise, the rich and the well born. I had a dinner party once when I was the secretary of state and he was the secretary of Treasury and the Washington administration. This was in New York before the capital moved to Philadelphia and when the tablecloth had been removed and the wine was beginning to be poured, he said that he was. It was a long conversation. I'll just give you this bit. He said that he could live with our constitution, but he didn't like it. And that what he really liked was monarchy and if you really wanted to be honest, what he liked was hereditary monarchy - hereditary monarchy, the king, his son, his son's son. I tried to stay out of these conversations because I find them so distasteful and I'm a harmony lover, you know, my motto is take things always by their smooth handle. But I couldn't stay silent on this occasion. And I said to him, well, Colonel Hamilton, what a great idea. Hereditary monarchy. But before we try it, let's try it at one of our universities. Well, let's create a chair of hereditary calculus. And when a professor can pass calculus through his loins into his son, then let us talk about the virtues of hereditary monarchy. I said to George Washington wants, if you took all of the crowned heads of Europe, every one of them and melded them into a single being, he wouldn't deserve to be elected vesterman of the smallest parish in Virginia. So Hamilton is not somebody that you should throw your money at. And he invented the national debt. He did. And he said, a national debt is a national blessing. I hope you feel duly blessed and he believes strongly that we'd have to borrow and have a sinking fund and have a huge debt in order to be a great nation. And so when I bought the Louisiana territory, we had no ready money and so I went to English and Dutch banks and got the loan. But I think you will agree that 15.6 million dollars has been paid back many, many, many times probably in this county.
DT: 00:44:36 It worked out very well. Um, we will move onto question and answer it pretty quickly.
CSJ as TJ: 00:44:42 Come and line up at these things.
DT: 00:44:44 And while we're setting this up, would you like to talk about, um, I know we talked about earlier about slavery expansion before the show - that it's something that you, although you had slaves, you wanted it to end it. And that was a big history of Kansas because eventually there was a civil war.
CSJ as TJ: 00:45:01 I should just address this very briefly because it's so important. So slavery is the original sin of America. The first slave ship came in 1619. Wasn't something we Americans invented that was brought by the Dutch and later by the English, but slavery found soil, fertile soil here, and I was born onto a slave plantation. I had more than 200 slaves. I bought and sold slaves in the course of my life. I only freed eight slaves - three during my lifetime and five at the time of my death in 1826. I do regard slavery as an abomination and morally repugnant in every way, but it's easier to talk about then to get out from under this. I said, it's like having the wolf by the ears. You can't hang on and you can't let go. But my hope was that we could keep slavery fixed in the eastern seaboard and the original 13 colonies in the West would be free. If you've studied your Kansas history, Kansas became bleeding Kansas over the fight between those who wanted slavery to, um, to characterize Kansas life. And those who wanted to prohibit it here. And it was, it was a kind of a warm up to the civil war. When I saw this in an earlier form in the Missouri compromise of 1819 and 1820, I just wept and said this is the death now of our republic. Now this horrible institution has become a sectional one. If we're going to bring in one state free and balance it with a slave state, then we're going to create two Americas and they're not going to know how to live together. And eventually this will either break up the union or create a civil war. Which of course is precisely what happened. I did not want to present myself as, as, as a virtuous person on this subject. It seems to me that there's an eternal blot on my own reputation. Thanks to my ownership of slaves. I was of course man of my time. But if you write all men are created equal and then you own some. There is going to be some, some moral scrutiny. And I believe that moral scrutiny is just and I plead guilty to that terrible, terrible contradiction. You have questions and be able to punch comes down to these microphones or raised their hands
DT: 00:47:31 And real quickly. Uh, again, we are. This is a live performance of the Thomas Jefferson Hour KRPS, and we got the Bicknell center for the performing arts. So this is something you don't get to do very often. Mr Jefferson is actually have live question, answer -
CSJ as TJ: 00:47:47 No, I've never had a news conference in my life and I'm, I have to say I have some trepidation.
DT: 00:47:56 So we have microphones here and you'll get to hear some people talk - ask questions now.
Audience: 00:48:00 Yes, go ahead. Thank you for coming. My name is Neil Brian and um, my, my question is specifically on your religious views and the influence on the constitution, um, history has given us your Jeffersonian Bible and has indicated that you were more of a deist with a thinking of a natural God. Could you speak on how your religious views, um, influenced the pretty groundbreaking constitution and talking about, um, God given rights and the sovereignty of the individual.
CSJ as TJ: 00:48:37 In a way, I'm sorry you asked this question because we were having such a good time and now you've asked her questions about religion and that's such a divisive issue and I don't like divisiveness ever. And I never talked about my religious views steadfastly. People asked me and I refused. I'm one woman pressed me so hard that I finally said, Madam, I'm an apiarian. I flip from one religion to the next and suck out all the honey of each, which, which did not satisfy her. And so I'll say this, and I hate to say it because I know some people might be offended, but I am a deist. A deist believes that the world is so beautiful and orderly with gravity and centrifugal and centripetal force and the earth poised in the solar system in the one place that can support life. This can't be random. This can't be just the yeasty stuff of the cosmos. This is design. And where there is design, there must be a designing agent, a creator, and so my God, if you want to call him this, is a kind of celestial physicist mechanic. And he has built a perfect universe and spun the planets and created all of us. And now in my opinion, he stands serenely by and watches his handiwork. I do not personally believe that Jesus was the Christ. I believe that he was the greatest man who ever lived and that his ethics are magnificent and within the grasp of a child, love God with all your heart. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Do onto others as you would have them do onto you if we would live by that simple code, happiness and justice would flourish throughout the world, but I do not believe that Jesus was the Christ. I do not believe that Jesus himself thought he was the Christ and you can now see the silence that I have created in this room. This is why I never talked about it. I don't believe in the trinity. Three is one and one is three, but I kept it to myself. I did edit the Bible, but only as a private meditation. My friend Joseph Priestley wrote to me and said, Mr Jefferson, if you disagree with so much that is in the Bible, why not simply compile your own Bible? And so I did this. I was. I bought two identical copies of the New Testament, the King James Translation, and I used a razor and I created a scrapbook of the biographical parts that I regarded as most authentic and then what I regarded as Jesus's most authentic sayings, I'm that's a pamphlet of 42 pages and I never published it because I was not insane and I kept it very tightly controlled. Congress published it long after my time and so you see why I never talked about this because you might think, oh my goodness, Mr Jefferson is an infidel. I was widely accused of being an atheist, which I am not, and during the election of 1800, which was one of the most vituperative in American history, women in Delaware were advised to bury their bibles in the garden because I would confiscate them. This is of course nonsense. I, I believe each one in this room has a right to worship any god of your choice and it's none of my business. And frankly my own views are none of yours - as to the constitution. I was not one of the constitution writers. I was in Europe at the time in France, so I wasn't in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, so I can't speak authoritatively about it. James Madison, my closest friend was there, but I will say this, if you read the constitution, you will not find a single reference to God - that wasn't their concern. Their concern was the recipe for good government to the United States and the First Amendment, which was an afterthought, but it did come in the first congress of the United States is definitely a strong statement about religious liberty, but the. If you read the famous preamble to the constitution or all of its articles and sub articles, there's no reference to deity in it because it was thought to be a purely secular business. The founding fathers may have been inspired by God. That's. That's another question, but the text itself is free of that, of that sort of talk.
Audience: 00:53:16 First, I'd like to thank you for traveling so far to the Midwest to discuss your life with us. Could you discuss with us the love that you had during your lifetime? First for the man Dabney Carr and then later on in life for Maria Cosway.
CSJ as TJ: 00:53:33 Oh my. Let me say this will be my last press conference. The question is about my friendship with Dabney Carr and my relationship with Mrs Cosway. Quickly. Dabney Carr was my closest friend. We were identical in age. We studied together at these sort of Anglican boarding schools that we went to in Virginia and we were very deep friends. Unfortunately he died when he was 34. He and I used to go up on top of this little mountain - Monticello, and it's Italian for a little mountain, was owned by my family and we would. We would have picnics up there and we would lie under the on top of this mountain and look at the clouds and talk about life and our dreams and America and girls. We were interested in the things that men talk about and and we made a pact. The pact was whoever died first would be buried right there. And then when the second person who eventually died, he'd be buried next to him and so Dabney's buried there and so am I. His death at 34 was a real blow to me and I took in his, his children and raised them at Monticello. Maria Cosway - my wife, I was married once. I was married in 1772 to an extraordinary woman named Martha Wayles Skelton. Oh, we were together for 10 years. She gave birth to six children. Four died before their seventh birthday. Think of that. Four of the six were dead in their childhood. She died of complications from birthing her last child on September sixth, 1782. So she was just 33 years old and when she died, my heart was broken and I had essentially a nervous breakdown and I didn't know that I would recover from this Mr Madison, my closest friend, convinced Congress to send me to Europe as a diplomat thinking that if you could get me away from Monticello, that maybe I would begin to recover. And while I was in Europe in 1786, I met this extraordinary woman named Maria Cosway, who was a painter and a musician and a composer and extraordinarily beautiful woman. And we had a kind of careful platonic relationship, friendship, you could say Romance, I might have broken my vow never to remarry, but, but for two things, one is that she was a Catholic and I didn't know that my deism would match well with her, much more devout view of, of religion. And secondly, she was married. And -
DT: 00:56:28 That can present a problem.
CSJ as TJ: 00:56:29 That's proved to be the more significant of the, of the impediments. They were - she was in a marriage of mere convenience and so on and so forth. But, um, but she was certainly an enormous temptation and we had a platonic, as I say, a friendship. And I wrote a famous letter to her, which you could go home and read. It's called my head in my heart. Um, it's an 11 page dialogue and its - the head is a little unhappy that the heart has done this. And the head says, and I urge you all to memorize this, never snatch at the bait of pleasure until you know there is no hook beneath it. The Art of happiness is the art of avoiding pain. But the heart says, if we only use the head, there would've been no American revolution because we would have calculated that we couldn't win it, and if the head controls, we'd never give money to the poor because we know what they're going to do with it and that the heart is what makes us fully human and the heart is irrational. But, but it's worth letting the heart have some sway in life. And so the dialogue ends inconclusively. But I will say this, I never let my heart control my life after that. Ever again. Yes. Here. And please say your name.
Audience: 00:57:48 Kathleen Brown Sikora. And earlier you referred to the French Revolution, collapsing their movement towards liberty collapsing because they were highly ignorant - the masses that is. And because they had no heritage - as the British people did - of liberty. You said such nations would need an intermediary process in order to build a democracy or a representative republic. So I'm curious as to what steps this process might entail because it seems to me this would apply very much to our situation. The United States situation. And other nations today.
CSJ as TJ: 00:58:35 All right, well first of all, thank you for listening so carefully. That was a superb encapsulization of what I said. I'm very impressed. So education is obviously working here. That was brilliant. So I had this stage theory, so I thought the French should maybe have a British style constitutional monarchy, so a king, but not an absolute king, a king that was hemmed in by parliament, which is where Britain was at the time. And then educate everybody really well and then move to greater liberty and in your time. Um, and, and, and believe me, I believe that the earth belongs to the living, not the dead. It's not for me to make comments on your time, but I would very much urge you to think about this, that if you have a naive notion that you can deliver democracy to other peoples, you had better examine their history first and see how ripe they are for that set of values. Because this is not something I put. Let me put it this way. Everyone is born with the right to self government. There's no question about that, but not everyone has the skill of that. It takes the inculcation of civics training and a long history of constitutions and so on to build those skills and you can't just do it overnight and if you try to do too much too fast, it will almost certainly collapse and so I would urge you, I mean I'm an isolationist. I believe the United States should mind its own business. I'm not for exporting war under any circumstances unless the very survival of the United States is at stake. I would urge you to turn inward and educate yourselves. I think the greatest thing you can do for the world is to be the best educated, most thoughtful, most enlightened, most just, most equal, most happy, most artistic people on earth, and then they will look upon you and they will say, why can't we be like that? America represents what life can be on earth. That's what we want to be.
Audience: 01:00:40 From a retired teacher, thank you.
CSJ as TJ: 01:00:41 I'm paraphrasing the famous speech by Pericles in Thucydides' Peloponnesian war about he said - the best export for Athens is Athens, is the idea of Athens. If you have the best architecture in the world, if you have the best philosophers in the world, if you have the best universities and schools in the world, the world is going to look to you and say that's what life can be, but if you export troops and power and economic wealth and so on, those things are much less interesting to the, to the remaining people in the world who are still seeking freedom, so thank you
Audience: 01:01:18 Mr Jefferson. My name's John Hacker and from that ruffian state next door, but I
CSJ as TJ: 01:01:25 We'll talk later.
Audience: 01:01:25 I have seen. I have seen your. Your obelisk. I would gladly lead the charge. I will gladly, gladly lead the charge to take it back.
CSJ as TJ: 01:01:32 You have one of these, these, they're called pickups. Do you have have one of those?
Audience: 01:01:37 We might. We might need something. We might need something called an 18 wheeler. I also, before I get to my question, I work in a community that's got a name that you're very familiar with Carthage, Carthage, Missouri.
CSJ as TJ: 01:01:50 Is it named after the Carthage?
Audience: 01:01:53 It is. It is named after the Carthage and there's an artist who's painted pictures comparing that Carthage to Carthage that you were familiar with.
CSJ as TJ: 01:01:59 Just - not to digress, but when I went across the Alps into Italy, I actually took maps and tried to determine Hannibal's route with his elephants and I spent a lot of time up in the Alps with these books and maps and so on. Historians say that I wasn't accurate, that I did not discover the route, but I was fascinated by carthage. So go ahead sir.
Audience: 01:02:22 My question is about the constitution and you said in your lifetime that you believe that the constitution probably should be revised every generation, you know, in the first revision, you know, every 20 years or so would have happened maybe in 1804, 1808. Something like that. Were you surprised when it didn't happen and what did you think when the next generation didn't start to, didn't start that process?
CSJ as TJ: 01:02:52 That's a great question. Thank you sir. And I'll see you afterwards about the vandalism. Yes, there are a lot of witnesses, so let me just say first of all that I wrote a letter to Madison from Paris in which I said, if the earth belongs to the living, which I believe it does, then there can be no perpetual constitution because that would be imposing on the unborn a system that they never ratified. And so I suggested that we tear up the constitution once every generation. I worked that out to be about 19 years. It would be a little bit more on your time because of your better medicine. Um, but the idea was that each generation would tear up the previous constitution and write its own according to its own needs, its own dreams, its own demographics and technologies and particular opportunities and challenges. I will say this, Mr Madison was not impressed. Many of you probably are quailing at the idea of a constitutional convention. But Mr Madison said, wait a minute, I like your idea, but A, how do you determine a generation? Because not everyone is born on the same day. And he said doesn't - If you build an infrastructure, if you build great universities, if you fight a war of national survival, don't the generations coming have some obligation to help pay for that and to be part of that isn't there something about continuity and culture that's really important, and so he basically shredded my argument and said, nice for a philosopher, but it wouldn't work in the real world. I disagree. I think you should tear up your constitution once every 19 years. So it came as you say that time came while I was president and there was no movement for it and I didn't suggest it either because Mr Madison had been so negative about my idea, but if we had done it, here's what I would have suggested then. Term limits - seems to me perpetual re-elect ability is just a profoundly bad idea. It seems. And as long as we're at it, the idea of life tenure for justices. This, this made no sense in my time when people died in their forties. Now if someone's appointed in his forties, he could be on the court for 65 years, that's two or three generations. I think there should be a vote of confidence or no confidence every five or 10 or 15 years so that at least the infirm can be retired to private life, as I said during my first term of Supreme Court justices, few die and none resigned, so I don't like that idea at all. You know, the idea of the courts is to give the court sufficient independence from the rest of the process so that they don't have to face the wrath of the vote, but if you give them too much independence than they're independent of the will of the nation. And so that I would reset that. I also would have a balanced budget requirement. No national debt. I would also, and I don't mean any reference to your own time, I would expand the impeachment clause because I don't think it should just be high crimes and misdemeanors. I think it should be gross ineptitude. Uh, corruption. And again, I am not referring to your time. I am not I, this was my view that the impeachment clause should be wider because it should allow us to get rid of somebody who is really, really bad for the nation, but hasn't bothered to commit some high crimes, and I would also have one final piece, a provision allowing conscientious objectorship because that's for our Quaker brethren and others who feel strongly that their own religious code does not permit them to fight wars. We have to be careful in discriminating about that, but it seems to me that I would have made those adjustments. In your time, you would want to revisit almost everything. It seems to me, and let me say this very seriously, you. You're living with Mr. Madison's constitution that was written in 1787. This was a three mile per hour world. Nothing moved faster than that. If Mr Madison were in this splendid auditorium, he would faint. He would faint at electricity, he would faint at microphones, he would faint at what you're wearing. He couldn't have understood the Internet. He couldn't have understood cruise missiles - I mean the founding fathers lived in the agrarian world. If Moses had come to Monticello, he would have recognized the agricultural practices. We were the last pre-industrial people. One of my granddaughters had a steamboat ride in 1815 and was like, It was thought of as like a carnival trick because we haven't yet figured out what steam was going to mean. Almost everything in your world is so far advanced over anything we could have dreamed of. Medicine. I said once, whenever I see two doctors and a public road, I look up to see whether there are Turkey vultures flying overhead because the standard procedures of medicine were bleeding and purging, both of which did more damage to the individual than good. George Washington was literally bled to death by incompetent doctors in the last 72 hours of his life because they didn't know what else to do so they bled him to death. My point is that you live in a, not just a different time from us, but in essentially in a different cosmos and for you to try to govern yourself with an 18th century instrument means that first of all, you have to stretch everything to try to cover things that could never have been anticipated and in doing so, you give the jurists, the justices, the lawyers, enormous power that they shouldn't have because there's no other way for them to do it because you'd give them an 18th century document and say, now apply it to something that no one of the 18th century could ever have contemplated under any circumstances, and they then of course dutifully try and then you say, look, that's legislating from the bench. That's judicial intrusion. That's broad construction. You have forced them to be broad constructionists by not revising your constitution to keep pace with human progress. I said in 1814, we may as well require a man to wear the coat that fitted him as a child, as to require our civilized citizens to live under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. And so I urge you to tear up the constitution. I know you're frightened to that prospect, but I trust you. I trust you to govern yourselves. And if you don't trust yourselves to govern yourselves, shame on you.
Audience: 01:10:14 It actually dovetails beautifully with my question - three or four weeks ago on your show, you mentioned that in your time the Supreme Court justices were not a lifetime employment, and I believe you said it was your son in law perhaps, and you referred to it as a judicial junta almost. And I was wondering if you could expound on how that came about, that they became lifetime -
CSJ as TJ: 01:10:35 No. Well, let me just correct you. There were lifetime appointments. It was, it was life, life appointments for good behavior during my time. And so people did stay on for, for the rest of their lives. My cousin John Marshall, that gloomy malignity served for 34 years as the chief justice of the United States. So, but what happened was then that the judiciary was, was less ambitious than it is in your time. And so it was the highest court of appeal and it handled original jurisdiction than certain admiralty cases and diplomatic cases and a squabble between Kansas and Nebraska, things like that. The courts were transformed by Justice Marshall, my cousin, from the weakest branch of government into an enormously strong branch of government, and I regarded that as a quiet junta because that's not what the constitution says. And if you read your constitution carefully, I can tell you there is no reference to judicial review. The constitution does not say that the court has the right to strike down acts of Congress. That was imposed on the constitution. In the famous case Marbury v Dot Madison in 1803. It's the first case that every law student studies in law school and Marshall did this deliberately because he wanted to strengthen the national government. I'm not in favor of a strong national government. Even as president. I called the national government the foreign department, and I believe that the state of Kansas is more competent to determine its own destiny than Washington could ever possibly be. I'm a state's right-ist. I believe in the 10th amendment, which, which I hope you've studied, it says those powers not delegated to the national government belong instead to the states until the people. Go ahead.
Audience: 01:12:28 My question is, did you and the other founding fathers ever talk about or consider the possibility of a minority such as gay people or as there will be called in yard time, homosexuals to be called to be something that could spark such a strong social movement and becomes something so accepting as American society progressed forward?
CSJ as TJ: 01:12:48 Thank you. I'm going to. I'm going to speak as a man of my time. There were of course homosexuals in my time, there been homosexuals from the beginning of time, the Greeks had a particular cherishing of homosexuals. It was thought to be the highest form of human engagement by the world of socrates and Plato and marriage. Heterosexual marriage was seen as a sort of thing that has to happen to reproduce the race - so there's always been homosexuality - in my time. We didn't talk about it. We never talked about it. I knew people that you would call gay men, but whatever they did privately, discreetly, un-publicly was no business of mine and no business of anybody else's; had they come forward publicly, they would have met with enormous public resistance in my time, um, because we were still much more deeply tied into biblical traditions. So I'll just say this, I knew homosexuals, I do not judge this, but I would be very sorry if this became a public debate at any point in American history. I think the world of the bedroom is an exceedingly private world and I would like to have a wall of separation between our private lives and are in the public square. I don't know if you agree or disagree, but, but I, I don't find this discussion to be one that would have made any sense in my time.
Audience: 01:14:28 A pleasure to meet you, Mr. President. I'm Mark Peterson. And my question is getting back to the, uh, the, the Louisiana purchase. We bought it from France, but there were other people around here at that time.
CSJ as TJ: 01:14:42 The maidens.
Audience: 01:14:43 Yes. And do you think that they had any claims to land?
CSJ as TJ: 01:14:48 What about American Indians? Well, I'm fascinated by Indians. I studied them. I dug an Indian burial mound near Monticello. I was a pioneer archaeologist. I think we have a lot to learn from native peoples. First of all as I put it in my second inaugural address. They only wanted to be left undisturbed. They didn't invite us here. I think they would've shared, but they certainly didn't want to be dispossessed and so I feel deep chagrin about that because I'll say this - here's the paradox. When I looked west from Monticello and saw America, I saw a Tabula Rasa, a blank slate. Well, it wasn't blank all, as you know, there were tribes living everywhere. It's not clear to me how we negotiate this. So here's, here was my plan and see if you think it had any validity. I wanted the Indians of the near West, Western Virginia, Western Kentucky, etc. To remove themselves for just payment of their lands and go beyond the Mississippi to Oklahoma and Kansas I suppose. And This would have the advantage of relieving the pressure - it would also, when they left, they would take the best of our technologies, the literacy, you know, most of most of these tribes had no alphabet - the wheel, none of the tribes had developed the wheel. Their are only domesticated animal had been the dog until the horse infiltrated up from Spanish America. We'd give them the best of our technologies, metallurgy and so on, and they would then move voluntarily west and they out here would accelerate their cultural development so that when we finally met them, after several hundred years, we would meet as equals. And then we would intermingle and even intermarry with them. Um, I did not like the idea of violent dispossession of the kind that Andrew Jackson engaged in that when he became president. But I will say this, and I know that this will sound out of keeping with the best enlightenment of your time. We regarded ourselves as the most enlightened people who had ever lived on the face of the earth. Without any question better than the ancient Greeks. Better than the Romans in the republic, better than modern Britain. We felt that we had achieved what humans can achieve, a constitutional system, due process, trial by jury, jury of one's peers, bills of rights and so on, and we did not apologize for this and we realized that everyone in the world needed to become like us, at their own pace, but that we should not be overly sentimental about people who were more primitive. We should try to bring them up, but we shouldn't believe that somehow there's cultural relativism here. We believe that, that we were the future of the planet and so I wanted native peoples to remove themselves temporarily and then be absorbed as full american citizens. I didn't have any race prejudice about American Indians. I was fascinated by them. Things happened a lot faster than that, as you know, in the course of american history and it didn't work out at all. Well, and I think that's something that everyone needs to think about, but I will say this, from the moment Columbus bumped into the new world, and especially when the British came to Jamestown and Plymouth, it was inevitable that the American people and the american ideals and american protocols would, would consume the continent. I don't think there was ever any real chance that white European derived civilization would yield at any boundary. And so the question is how do you manage tragedy rather than how do you avoid tragedy? It's an intractable problem, but I said in the second inaugural address, if we build our own american system on the blood and bones of the aboriginal inhabitants of this continent, then we will have squandered the very thing that we say we so completely embody as a people. So it's, it's really a horrible problem as you know. And you and Kansas I think have a very dark record on this, on this, on this subject. I'm afraid to say,
Audience: 01:19:34 My name is Mark Summer and I am from Jefferson City, Missouri. I happen to live in Kansas. Um, it's my understanding that you are a mason and didn't have any outcome on the way you ran the country as president.
CSJ as TJ: 01:19:52 I am not a mason. I had friends who were masons. George Washington was a mason. Meriwether Lewis was a mason. In fact, Meriwether Lewis created the masonic lodge in the Louisiana territory in St Louis when he was serving as the governor of upper Louisiana. I had friends who were masons in every direction. And I'm very fond of masonic lore and masonic philosophy and the freemasonry movement. But I'm not a joiner. I don't join organizations and I particularly don't join exclusive organizations because they create social distinction. And here in America we're trying to create conditions of equality. And so I like the term from the french revolution, citizen, you know, black or white or red male or female, jew or gentile or, or a Unitarian. What we share as Americans is we're citizens, so we're citizens and when we call each other citizen that expresses our equality. I didn't like the terms Mr and Mrs and master and esquire and doctor, because they create these social distinctions which I think have damaged the European world almost beyond recognition. And so I wanted us to find as many ways to be equal in America as we possibly could be. And, and every time I had a chance to join a secret organization, I reluctantly said no, just because I did not want to help to create class distinctions. We're so fortunate in my time. I don't know that this is true in yours. We had the widest middle class world that ever known, a tiny number of rich and an even tinier number of poor, but the great mass of people were of the middling condition. And there was this broad equality here and where there is equality, there will be human happiness. John Adams, and I'll close with this and then we're going to have another little segment of this, of this program. So, so please don't rush out unless you have to. Um, Adams than I had been friends. Then we quarreled over the French revolution than a whole range of things. Then I supplanted him as the president. He was a one term president and he thought he should serve at least two and was upset when he was retired and blamed me in part, um, and he committed the greatest snub and the history of transitions. He left Washington city at 4:00 AM on the day of my inauguration, on the public stage because he refused to stay to see me inaugurated in this place that was personally unkind, but it also was a violation of our system because in a republic when we transfer power from one administration to the next, there needs to be assigned a harmony and continuity and not distaste. So I never saw him again. I didn't travel. I went back to Monticello after my presidency and I never left its environs for the last 17 years of my life. And Adams was up in Braintree, Massachusetts. And so we would have died unreconciled, but a mutual friend of ours by the name of Dr. Benjamin Rush, decided that he wanted to reconcile us. He called us the north pole and the south pole of the american revolution. And so he met a real campaign of this over several years and they finally convinced us to start writing to each other by telling each one of us that the other was ready for reconciliation. So Adams broke the silence first on the first day of January, 1812 with a stiff little letter. And I wrote back a careful little reply and then he wrote a slightly more effusive letter and I did too, and then suddenly the sluice gates of our ancient affection opened. And we became dear correspondents and close friends. One of the things that we wrote about was aristocracy. And Adams said, what think you of aristocracy? And I said, I'm for natural aristocracy, but I'm against pseudo aristocracy. Natural aristocracy is talent, creativity, wisdom, intelligence, good judgment, artistic capacity. These people are born, we don't all have it. And when you find a natural aristocrat, and by the way, Alexander Hamilton was one. When you find a natural, you want to nurture that person and lift that person into leadership positions in the arts and in politics and so on. Not everyone can teach a college course. We want our natural aristocrats to be those professors. Not everyone can paint. We want our natural aristocrats to paint. The problem in culture has been that we've given authority to the pseudo aristocrats and these are the people who were just born into privilege. They don't have any particular merit. Often they have none, and so the good nation is the one that takes authority away from the pseudo aristocrats and puts it instead on the natural aristocrats. Of course, that's what a university like this one does, is to try to nurture young, natural aristocrats. You call it meritocracy. I'm for that. We're born equal. We have equal rights under the law, but we're not equal in beauty and strength and character in artistic capacities or even intelligence and we need to lean on the best of ourselves, the best minds, the best judgments. We want our leaders, our senators, our governors, our presidents to be the very best exemplars of what it is to be an american and when we settle for anything less then we make this difficult because a republic is a very fragile form of government. A republic only works if all of you in this room try to be your best self all of the time. Think of how hard that is, but you have to try to be your best self and to be civil and polite and tolerant and generous even when you don't feel like it, but if we all do that, if we're all striving to be our best selves, to read, to work from evidence, to argue only those things we actually know something about. Could you give people the benefit of the doubt, to listen with respect, to tolerate things that appear to be intolerable. If we will rise to our best selves, then if we all lift this culture together, we might be a thriving republic and there's one more piece that I want to close with and that's agriculture. What I love about Kansas is that you have been a farm state. How many of you are actual farmers?
CSJ as TJ: 01:26:28 That's not good. There are like three farmers here. I wouldn't have come. Had I known. I was told Kansas is this agrarian place, wheat and farming and soybeans and it turns out you're. You're not farmers. I said in my only book, Notes on Virginia, those who labor in the earth of the chosen people of god, if ever he had a chosen people whose breaths he has made his peculiar deposit for genuine and substantial virtue. I believe that a nation based on family farming is more likely to be virtuous and happy and independent than any other form of nation whatsoever. So how many of you have some genealogical link to a farm? Well, there you see - you're living on fumes. I just urge the following two things since we're on a university campus. Number one, I want you all to grow something in the next year, a tomato, a geranium, asparagus, a potato, tomatoes are particularly important to me. So I want you to grow something even in a little pot - because if you grow, as you know, if you grow something, it deepens your connection to nature and natural law. So how many of you will grow something in the next year? We should - We should follow this up. And secondly, I want you all to consider learning ancient Greek. It is worth learning ancient Greek to read homer in the original and you might think I'm joking, but I'm not. It is worth learning ancient Greek to read homer in the original and then you can read about Athens in the fourth century and you will - You will if you imagine if a year from now I came back and there were 30 Greek scholars here. You would be internationally famous as the place that suddenly had a Greek revival. I'm serious. Grow something and at least learn a foreign language and if possible, let it be ancient Greek and may I say to all of you, may your revolutions be as peaceful as possible and as bloody as required. So thank you. Thank you very much.
CSJ: 01:29:14 Thank you. I just want to - I know the evening grows late.
DT: 01:29:45 We're good
CSJ: 01:29:45 But I want to just do a couple of things. First I want to put on this groovy non-Jeffersonian hat. Thanks to KRPS for doing this. Thanks for you for being the host. I'm so delighted - this - we'll edit this - We'll create a Thomas Jefferson Hour - which you can get by the way on podcast, but it's here, broadcast on Saturdays, is it not?
DT: 01:30:06 Saturdays at three on KRPS 89.9
CSJ: 01:30:09 You went into the voice. Could I just say a couple of things? First of all, I'm thrilled to be here. I've been here before. I don't know how many of you remember the great plains Chautauqua, but it's - I was one of the creators of the great plains Chautauqua. It started in Bismarckk, North Dakota. We came down here in the 1980s. I was here. We had a huge blue and white tent. We had historical characters. One of them was Fred Krebs from overland park and he did a whole series of characters and I love it here and I've been here before and I was so thrilled to be invited back when I was here before we were in a little tent. Now look at what you've got. You have built, I have to say, you have created one of the great performing arts centers on the great plains. You should be so proud of this facility. Oh my goodness. I hope you'll invite me back. I do other characters, Meriwether Lewis, Theodore Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, J Robert Oppenheimer. I also do a Shakespeare sorta thing, but this is the place someone wants to perform in. Let me tell you - I also wanted to say that I have real Kansas connections. I was, I lived for a couple of years in Sharon springs. Anyone know where Sharon springs is? Yes, it's, it's about as far diagonally from here as you can get. it's an extreme northwestern Kansas. It's 10 miles from the Colorado border. It's only claim to fame, you know, it sits right on top of the Ogallala. Um, it's only claim to fame is a theater. Roosevelt was there in 1903 on this huge journey across America and he stopped and Sharon springs and spent the night. Why? We don't know. And I stayed in the hotel. They went to church the next day, had a huge horseback ride, went to church and these any sat with these six little girls in white dresses and they would, of course everyone was so thrilled that the president Theodore Roosevelt was there. And afterwards a girl came up to him and said, can we see the train that you're on? He was on this spectacular air force one kind of train. And so he said, sure. And they came on - this little girl from Sharon springs said, hey, you want a - you want a badger? And he said what? She said yeah, my brother caught a badger this morning, you want it? And he said, sure. So she rode back to the ranch and got him this badger and he named it Josiah after her brother and he took it back to Washington DC and he gave it to his children. And it lived in the White House for several years and he said later, this was really a vicious pet. This is, this is not a good pet. Cabinet members would come and the thing would bite them in the ankle. And you couldn't pet it. I mean it was just like the worst pet in the world. But it came from Sharon springs, Kansas. And I think that Sharon springs in Wallace county should have a statue of Roosevelt holding Josiah the badger. I mean, that is such a great story. He was all over, he was here actually before he was president, but, but so I lived out there and I lived on this farm on the Ogallala, and it was fabulous. It was wind swept high plains. There's no performing arts center. There's barely a cafe, but there's something about that country - way, way out there on the Colorado line that is so stark, some of the most beautiful country on the great plains. And so I had the glory during that period of gone traveling all over Kansas and I just love it. So it was such a joy for me to be invited back to come here and I would come as often as you will have me believe me because it's just such a - I had no idea - this place - and then I turn to you, but - I have a reading list if you want it so we can have further conversation. I know there's a question. I'm going to take that question. Um, I also do cultural tours, so we're, uh, we're going to Jefferson's France next year. We also do winter retreats out, um, west of Missoula. There's a Steinbeck trip out in California that I'm leading in May, so if you're interested in any of that, I have this handout and I'll linger a little, but you had a question. You don't need to go to the mic. Just tell us what that question was. Going to the mic, alright. The mics off I think, but go ahead.
Audience: 01:34:58 [Inaudible] I often download the podcast in the middle of the week and then listen to it twice. Um, the only thing that is continually struggling in my eight or so years of listening is when president Jefferson describes himself as an isolationist. Then when after you used the term as well in our time this term has negative connotations and just a few things at Jefferson. The matter I have peace and harmony with all nations. There's an exchange of surpluses and wants to do the other moral decent, friendship wise, the policy and I wished to pursue that. And then of course you're well known peace commerce and honest. Considering the president Jefferson makes clear that hopes of friendly relations and commerce with all nations be our inclination. I wonder if you might consider using the term non interventionists rather than isolationists. If not, when portraying Mr. Jefferson,
CSJ: 01:36:10 When I'm out of character, yeah — so you all heard Jefferson was an isolationist when I come out of character and on the Jefferson Hour, I sometimes use that term and you're saying suggesting non-interventionist would be better. I always want to let Jefferson be Jefferson of course; I don't agree with everything that's been coming out of my mouth tonight. I just try to let Jefferson be Jefferson and uh, and so I try to keep my own views out of it because that way madness lies. And, and the whole idea of this is that it's you can, you can trust what you've heard and, and, and go away and read books on jefferson and if you want one book on jefferson, let me say it should be a Merrill Peterson's Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, which I think is far and away the best one volume biography. We were isolationists then; it makes less sense now. And I've been reading a lot. I just went to CBS. I went to New York last week and I was interviewed by 60 minutes for a big documentary they're doing on the Murrow boys on Edward R Murrow and Eric Sevareid and William L Schirer and um, Howard k smith and, and it's - and so on. Um, and you know, I did a lot of reading the summer to get ready for this. Eric Sevareid's a North Dakotan and we North Dakotans embrace every North Dakotan has ever done anything because so few do. And so, you know, we're not Kansas, we can't be Kansas, we're just North Dakota. We have, we have Lewis and Clark and we have Lawrence Welk and that's about it. And snow. So we're kind of a loser state and we look on Kansas is kind of a mecca, you know, Mary Ellen Lease and William Allen White. And uh, what a, what an extraordinary tradition you have here. So Eric Sevareid comes from Velva, North Dakota and he's one of our favorite sons. He was a - for those who are younger. He was a CBS newscaster and one of the great commentators in american life from 1963 to 1977, and so working on that to get ready. We were isolationist at least until the Spanish American war in 1898, and that was just a tiny little war and then we had. We found our way into world war one. We didn't want to go, as you know, we were kind of got drawn into it. Then world war two, you know, that was it. After world war two, we realized that we could no longer afford to be isolationists because the world was too close, too dangerous, that if America wasn't in the world in a big way, then we were just going to repeat this madness over and over and over again. I want to close on that one. Really. I'll give you one strong personal opinion. Whatever you think about the current administration, we should be very careful about dismantling the American European alliance, NATO, the European community, the Marshall plan. Those things have prevented the outbreak of savage madness from 1946 until today. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, they take advantage of us, yes, they don't do what they should be doing. We should push them hard to be more responsible, but it is so in our interest to be engaged in that world and to keep NATO strong because Putin as you know, has designs on the Crimea, on the Ukraine, on Estonia, on Latvia. If he thought there was a path, he would take over much of the former soviet bloc. He has been prevented from doing so by the strength of the unity, the Atlantic coalition. It is a bargain for us compared to what will happen if we have to send our sons and daughters back into Europe in the age of of nuclear holocaust and so I just urge us, to be careful here. Not intended to be a criticism of of Trump, Trumpism or anything else. It's about this issue about america's place in the role and engagement is what has protected the world and us at a relatively small economic cost. And when you. If you just close your eyes and think of what would the world be like if America had retreated into isolationism and just said you're on your own, I think the soviet union would have taken over much of Europe. It probably would still be in existence. We had great men like Ronald Reagan who stood up and said, we're not going to - we're not going to permit this to happen, and that I think is when America is at its very best when we're, when we're high minded, their self interest in it of course, but it's also high minded that the world has only one America and we are that America like it or not. What a privilege to be that country that the world looks to for moral leadership. I mean, I can't imagine anything else. Anyway. So I invite you to come to North Dakota and I would love to come back another time if you want to linger and get a reading list. I want to thank you so much for being the great host.
DT: 01:41:41 Thank you.
CSJ: 01:41:46 You're in a fundraiser so they should all do the - You know the drill, listeners like you.
DT: 01:41:54 Well support your public, your local public radio station, whether you're a KRPS listener or you are from - We have people from Tennessee that came here tonight, that's, that's amazing, but support your local public radio stations. KRPS. You can support us online at www.krps.org. Click that support now link and without people like you, without listeners like you actually supporting public radio, public radio won't be around. So it's really because of people like you and for people like you that great programs like the Thomas Jefferson Hour get to be on the air across the nation. So I want - in advance, I want to say, I want to say thank you to all of you who have supported and who will support KRPS and other public radio stations. So thank you.
CSJ: 01:42:35 We're gonna take a little break. I'm going to put on some overalls and we're heading to Columbia. See you later.