"It mythologizes absolutism and tyranny."
— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson
Drifting down the river in the afternoon, gazing up at the blue blue sky, slipping past golden eagles as if they were sparrows or wrens, examining the famous White Cliffs that Lewis said had the feeling of “scenes of visionary enchantment,” and at times just pulling the paddles into the canoe to feel the gentle but inexorable tug of the continent, this too is paradise on earth.
I thank God that I was alive when it happened. It was surely the greatest human achievement in my lifetime, one of the handful of greatest moments since we crawled out of the sea and found a way to stand upright.
There is no greater freedom than being somewhere in the American West with nowhere you have to be, ambling in search of the perfect platonic campsite, living on little, and just giving yourself to all that astonishing open public land.
Stay tuned, my friends. If you never hear from me again, it’s because D.B. Cooper and I have disappeared into the vast wilderness of America or joined a peyote cult in New Mexico.
Some of the things Jefferson did were not designed to make a statement about democracy or self-government. In some respects, Jefferson was just weird.
"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.
"Paine refused to take proceeds from this book."
— Clay S. Jenkinson
This week, we present another of our Jefferson Hour Book Club episodes and discuss Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.