Jefferson's Character

#1342 Dressing Down

#1342 Dressing Down

"He was drest, or rather undrest, with an old brown coat, red waistcoat, old corduroy small clothes, much soiled-woolen hose-and slippers without heels."

— William Plumer, 1802

This week we talk about Thomas Jefferson’s talent for political theater, and the ways he used this talent to reinforce the public perception of his firm beliefs in republicanism and guard against what he saw as a threat of monarchy in the young nation.

#1341 Dinner with Jefferson

#1341 Dinner with Jefferson

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

— Thomas Jefferson, 1800

This week, we ask President Jefferson about his famous dinner parties and their extensive menus. It was important to Jefferson to not appear too regal, and the dinner parties were kept somewhat casual. In 1802, a Federalist senator from New Hampshire was meeting Jefferson at a dinner when “a tall high boned man” entered the room wearing “an old brown coat, red waistcoat, old corduroy small clothes, much soiled—woolen hose—& slippers without heels.” He added, “I thought this man was a servant; but was surprised by the announcement it was the President.”

#1328 Constitutional Correspondence

#1328 Constitutional Correspondence

"What would fix this country? Almost the number one thing would be: take money out of politics."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

We continue our current theme of constitutional discussions by reading and considering listener mail, including a number of specific suggestions for constitutional amendments.

#1316 James Madison (Part Two)

#1316 James Madison (Part Two)

"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"?

#1299 Jefferson's Mistakes

#1299 Jefferson's Mistakes

"He was part of the extension of slavery that made the Civil War inevitable, and that led to almost 800,000 deaths."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

This week President Thomas Jefferson speaks about the political mistakes he made.

#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.

#1291 Circumstances

#1291 Circumstances

"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.

#1288 Truth Matters

#1288 Truth Matters

"I think that an ideal citizen is a bit grumpy, is always concerned that government is up to no good."

— Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address

We begin our conversation with President Thomas Jefferson asking about the actual location of his tombstone. We also discuss truthfulness, free speech, personal freedoms, upholding international agreements, and what Thomas Jefferson thinks about executive privilege and our current government.

#1287 The Hardest Job

#1287 The Hardest Job

"I don't think that it's very useful to compare the burden of the presidency of 1803 … with the burden of the presidency in your time."

— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

We talk with President Jefferson about an article written by John Dickerson of CBS regarding how difficult the office of the president has become. The article is titled "The Hardest Job in the World" and was published in this month's Atlantic magazine.

#1286 First Family (Part Two)

#1286 First Family (Part Two)

“I’m just thinking of your career, here.”

— Joseph Ellis

We continue our conversation this week with the award-winning author Joseph Ellis, and we conclude our discussion about his book First Family: Abigail and John Adams as part of our first entry of the Thomas Jefferson Hour Book Club series.

#1279 The Art of the Letter

#1279 The Art of the Letter

"Every letter has a basis and a purpose … I spent an enormous amount of time thinking about the recipient."

— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

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

#1275 Joseph Ellis

#1275 Joseph Ellis

"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.

#1270 Total Extirpation

#1270 Total Extirpation

"It really upsets me that Jefferson should be anti-canine, but there you are."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

This week, we answer listener questions about Jefferson’s personality traits, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the State of Jefferson, the Hamilton Soundtrack, fashion during Jefferson’s time, touring Monticello, and Jefferson’s distaste for dogs.

#1264 Representation

#1264 Representation

"It's so hard for me to think that one citizen, for whatever reason, would commit such mayhem."

— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

#1259 The Final Years (Part One)

#1259 The Final Years (Part One)

"The last years of his life were increasingly characterized by debt and disillusionment."

— Clay

We return to Jefferson 101 with part one of the final three shows of the Jefferson biography series to discuss Jefferson’s years in retirement at Monticello.