Declaration of Independence

#1334 Benjamin Rush with Stephen Fried

#1334 Benjamin Rush with Stephen Fried

"He and Jefferson talked about everything."

— Stephen Fried

Benjamin Rush was a physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, educator, and a signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Rush was a leader of the American Enlightenment and an enthusiastic supporter of the American Revolution. Born the son of a Philadelphia blacksmith, Rush touched virtually every page in the story of the nation’s founding. It was Rush who was responsible for the late-in-life reconciliation between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This week we speak with the author Stephen Fried about his new book, Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father.

#1298 As Requested

#1298 As Requested

"You have to wait 14 years under the naturalization law before you can become a full citizen of the United States. These were palpable violations of the Bill of Rights."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

We spend this week, as requested, responding to submitted questions and correcting some factual errors pointed out by our listeners.

#1293 4th of July

#1293 4th of July

"Mythology begins to creep in, and as historians we like to question some of that."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

This week on our annual 4th of July show, Thomas Jefferson reads the Declaration of Independence in it’s entirety and speaks about one of his favorite holidays.

#1278 Adams, Bees and Guns

#1278 Adams, Bees and Guns

"I believe that we have the right to revolution."

— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

President Jefferson answers listener questions about his relationship with John Adams, replacing the Constitution once every generation, bees at Monticello, and the Second Amendment.

#1262 The Final Years (Part Three)

#1262 The Final Years (Part Three)

"Two seraphs await me long shrouded in death; I will bear them your love on my last parting breath."

— Thomas Jefferson, July 1826

We conclude our Jefferson 101 biographical series by discussing his final days at Monticello, his legacy, and the deaths of both Jefferson and John Adams on July 4th, 1826 — the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

#1241 4th of July

#1241 4th of July

We speak with President Jefferson this week in our annual 4th of July Show. Jefferson shares his thoughts on why the holiday is so important to Americans and recalls how it was celebrated during his time. We also speak to Gaye Wilson, the Shannon Senior Historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies and Pat Brodowski, specialty gardener at Monticello who tell us about the celebrations being held at Monticello.

#1203 Benjamin Franklin's Visit

#1203 Benjamin Franklin's Visit

President Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson, is joined in conversation by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin is portrayed by GregRobin Smith, a history scholar, author, actor, and educator. Smith was invited to Bismarck by the North Dakota Humanities Council to speak, as Franklin, at the GameChanger Ideas Festival.

Nancy Reagan, the GOP, and Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence

Jefferson 107: the Original Draft of the Declaration of Independence

Rough draft from the Library of Congress.

Rough draft from the Library of Congress.

We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable...
— Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence

This week on The Thomas Jefferson Hour, the semi-permanent guest host David Swenson and I discuss Jefferson’s original text of the Declaration of Independence. It's part of our 20-episode out of character biography of Thomas Jefferson. Stay tuned as we work our way through the life of one of America's greatest individuals.

On the Death of Nancy Reagan

Whatever one thinks of the politics of the Reagans, they had class. They brought decorum to all that they did. They took themselves seriously because they took America seriously. President Reagan understood Jefferson's principle that to be president of the United States you have to sing the Song of America. How appalled Reagan would be by the antics of the 2016 Republican candidates for president.

To read my short essay on the legacy of Nancy Reagan, click here.

The Republican Establishment - Beware What You Ask For

I’ve been watching with great amusement the Republican establishment’s attempts to stop Donald Trump from winning the nomination. Something very similar happened in 1912, when former President Theodore challenged the incumbent, his former friend William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination. it is never a good idea to thwart the will of the people. Are you listening (or reading your history) Republican establishment?

Read more here.

Latest News on the New Theodore Roosevelt National Presidential Library in North Dakota

You may know that we are building a magnificent national Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Dickinson, North Dakota. Our design committee met out on the Oregon coast last weekend to discuss the stories we want to tell at the TR National Presidential Library and Museum. The weekend ended with a propitious sign tossed up by the Pacific Ocean. Read more here.

For more information on this exciting project, visit the Theodore Roosevelt Center.

Buffalo Bill Cody and the Invention of the West

Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 3 pm CST

Conversations at Bismarck State College occur five times per academic year, led by BSC President Larry Skogen and humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson.

This Sunday, March 13, President Skogen and I will explore the life and achievement of Buffalo Bill Cody, his relations with American Indians, and the way in which he depicted Indians in his shows both in the United States and Europe. We will base our conversations on Cody's autobiography (1920), and Louis S. Warren's Buffalo Bill's America: William Cody and the Wild West Show.

Our discussion will try to make sense of what has been called the "inauthentic authenticity" of Buffalo Bill's life and career. What was it about America in the 1880s and 90s that packed his arenas with audiences hungry to make sense of our frontier history? To what extent did Cody "represent" frontier history and to what extent did he "invent" it?

Later this spring ( we will explore North Dakota's Dust Bowl Years, and George Armstrong Custer's 1874 reconnaissance of the Black Hills.

You can watch live online. For information and the live stream link at 3 pm CST on Sunday, click here.

Thanks to my friend Robin for the photo from last summer's trip. 

Thanks to my friend Robin for the photo from last summer's trip. 

Lewis & Clark Summer Tour in Montana

July 17-26, 2016

Every summer I lead 20-30 individuals through the White Cliffs section of the Missouri River in Montana, and then up on the Lolo Trail in Idaho west of Missoula. We follow precisely in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. It's the highlight of my travel year. If you listen to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, you have heard of the infamous "Wendover Death March." For many, this is a life-changing adventure.

Jefferson would have loved to go on this journey, if he could have brought a keel-boat of wine, another of books, writing instruments, scientific devices--and Madison to do the heavy lifting!. Space is limited, reserve your spot here