Jefferson answers questions about the Constitution, including topics like presidential pardon power, natural-born citizen requirements, and the constitutionality of signing statements.
"Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, & what no just government should refuse or rest on inference."
— Thomas Jefferson, 1787
President Jefferson answers a number of listener questions about the United States Constitution. We discuss the meaning of Article V, how much of the document is open to interpretation, and the idea of amending the Constitution every generation.
"to the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression."
— James Madison
We discuss James Madison again this week, President Jefferson's good friend and ally. The question is, what is America? Is it a compact of sovereign states? Or is it as a nation state whose constitution begins with the words, "We the People"?
"George Washington ... was as close to a perfect human being as we believed existed on Earth."
— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson
This week, we speak with President Jefferson about George Washington's farewell address which was first published in Philadelphia's American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796, 222 years ago.
"The debate in American history is not between Hamilton and Jefferson, the debate is between Adams and Jefferson."
— Clay S. Jenkinson
This week, we answer listener questions on the Thomas Jefferson Hour, including a letter from a writer who wonders whether the Founding Fathers were geniuses who seized the moment, or simply average people living in extraordinary times. We also speak with our good friend Beau Wright.
"Every letter has a basis and a purpose … I spent an enormous amount of time thinking about the recipient."
— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson
We speak this week with President Jefferson about the art of letter writing. Prompted by a letter from a listener, Jefferson shares his insights on the process. The exact number of letters Jefferson wrote is not known, but it is safe to say he wrote in excess of 20,000.
"You could redistrict so that you could maximize competitiveness. That would be my suggestion: maximize competitiveness."
— Clay S. Jenkinson
On this week’s Thomas Jefferson Hour, we discuss gerrymandering, its origin, how it works in American politics today, and the potential effects it has on our democracy.
"There's a perfect alignment between Jefferson's own contradictions and the rest of American history."
— Joseph J. Ellis
Clay speaks with Dr. Joseph J. Ellis, author of more than ten books, including American Sphinx, Passionate Sage, and Revolutionary Summer. His forthcoming book is American Dialogue: The Founders and Us.
"You cannot understand the founding of this country without understanding the Founding Fathers’ obsession with classical languages and literature."
— Clay S. Jenkinson
Guest host Catherine Jenkinson has an extended conversation with President Jefferson about the classics, and Jefferson’s understanding and support of the classics.
"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.
"at best it is but the life of a mill-horse, who sees no end to his circle but in death. to such a life that of a cabbage is paradise."
— Thomas Jefferson, 27 June 1822
This week, we return with part two of the last three shows of the Jefferson 101 biography series, and continue our discussion of Jefferson’s final years in retirement at Monticello.