Celebrate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday at Monticello, April 11

March 27, 2014

Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia.

The good people who operate Monticello, Jefferson’s glorious home in Virginia, will kick off a weekend of celebration on April 11, the Friday before Sunday, April 13, 2014.

Want to join in the celebration in Jefferson’s home?

U.S. Army's Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps

Come Celebrate Jefferson’s Birthday!

Friday, April 11
At Monticello

Monticello will mark the 271st anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth with a celebration and ceremonies on the West Lawn. Held in conjunction with Founder’s Day at the University of Virginia, the event will feature remarks by James H. Webb, Jr., former U.S. Senator from Virginia and the 2014 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership, and the presentation of wreaths honoring Jefferson by local, state, and national organizations. 10 a.m., free and open to the public. (Admission required for house tours.)

Jefferson MedalOther Events
You may also be interested in related events being held at the University of Virginia as part of Founder’s Day:

April 10

  • 12:30 p.m. Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist in Citizen Leadership The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will host a talk by James H. Webb, Jr., former U.S. Senator (D-Va.) and Secretary of the Navy, decorated Vietnam veteran and successful author, journalist and filmmaker, in Garrett Hall.

April 11

  • 10:00 a.m. Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist in Law: A public talk will be held in the Caplin Pavilion featuring Kenneth R. Feinberg, an attorney who has administered the compensation funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech and the Boston Marathon bombings.
  • 3:30 p.m. Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medalist in Architecture
    The School of Architecture will host a public talk by Toyo Ito, a Tokyo-based architect who combines conceptual innovation with superbly executed buildings, as in his masterpiece, the Sendai Mediatheque, which reimagines what a public museum and library should be in the digital age, in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium.

Learn more about all Founder’s Day events


Belated Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson

April 16, 2013

Sometimes I think tax day was pushed back to April 15 just to foul up everybody’s plans for Thomas Jefferson‘s birthday.

New statue to Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia at Wise. Dedicated in 2013.  Sculptor was Edward Hlavka.

New statue to Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia at Wise. Dedicated in 2013. Sculptor was Edward Hlavka.

Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, and I miss the anniversary almost every year — like I did this year.

Oh, well.  Next year in Charlottesville.

Jefferson’s birthday should be a holiday, don’t you think?  Religious Freedom Day, or Public Education Day, or Self-evident Truths Day — something to honor Thomas Jefferson.

A while back, Catherine Sherman wonderfully explained why we should celebrate Jefferson’s birthday.  Go see.

Tom was 270, in 2013.

More:


Quote of the moment: Jefferson, on reason in a republic

August 7, 2012

Bust of Jefferson in the Great Hall, Library of Congress (Jefferson Building) - photo by Carol Highsmith

Bust of Jefferson in the Great Hall, Library of Congress (Jefferson Building) – photo by Carol Highsmith. The plaster bust of Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) is a copy of a work by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741–1828).

In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion, and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to David Harding, from Monticello, April 20, 1824; found in The Quotable Jefferson, collected and edited by John P. Kaminski, Princeton University Press 2006, p. 162.

I worry that perhaps we have as a people, abandoned the ideal of being ruled by reason and persuasion.

What’s your mileage?

Great Hall of the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building - Carol Highsmith photo

Great Hall of the Library of Congress viewed from the second floor, Thomas Jefferson Building – Carol Highsmith photo. Note bust of Jefferson, opposite


Jefferson’s birthday anniversary, April 13

April 6, 2012

Library of Congress's South Reading Room. Mural of Thomas Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background, by Ezra Winter. Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

So, what are you doing to celebrate the birthday of Thomas Jefferson on April 13?

You might visit the Library of Congress, and see Jefferson’s advice to President Obama on a variety of issues, including freedom, labor, kids today, education, and the difficulty of keeping our democratic republic:

Murals by Ezra Winter also decorate the South Reading Room. The theme for these four murals is drawn from Thomas Jefferson’s writings, which are inscribed on the paintings and reflect Jefferson’s thoughts on Freedom, Labor, the Living Generation, Education, and Democratic Government. The characters and costumes depicted are those of Jefferson’s time. A portrait of Jefferson with his residence, Monticello, in the background is in the lunette above the reference desk at the north end of the room; the words in the lower left- had corner explain that THIS ROOM IS DEDICATED TO THOMAS JEFFERSON .

On the left half of the panel on the east wall, Jefferson’s view on Freedom is depicted:

THE GROUND OF LIBERTY IS TO BE GAINED BY INCHES. WE MUST BE CONTENTED TO SECURE WHAT WE CAN GET FROM TIME TO TIME AND ETERNALLY PRESS FORWARD FOR WHAT IS YET TO GET. IT TAKES TIME TO PERSUADE MEN TO DO EVEN WHAT IS FOR THEIR OWN GOOD.

Jefferson to Rev. Charles Clay, January 27, 1790

Jefferson’s views on labor, also on the east wall, are taken from his Notes on Virginia:

THOSE WHO LABOR IN THE EARTH ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE OF GOD, IF HE EVER HAD A CHOSEN PEOPLE, WHOSE BREASTS HE HAS MADE THE PECULIAR DEPOSITS FOR SUBSTANTIAL AND GENUINE VIRTUE. IT IS THE FOCUS IN WHICH HE KEEPS ALIVE THAT SACRED FIRE WHICH OTHERWISE MIGHT NOT ESCAPE FROM THE EARTH.

From Notes on Virginia, 1782

On the south wall, the panel over the clock contains a quotation about the Living:

THE EARTH BELONGS ALWAYS TO THE LIVING GENERATION. THEY MAY MANAGE IT THEN AND WHAT PROCEEDS FROM IT AS THEY PLEASE DURING THEIR USUFRUCT. THEY ARE MASTERS TOO OF THEIR OWN PERSONS AND CONSEQUENTLY MAY GOVERN THEM AS THEY PLEASE.

Jefferson to James Madison, September 6, 1789

On the left half of the panel on the west wall, Jefferson’s view of Education is illustrated:

EDUCATE AND INFORM THE MASS OF THE PEOPLE. ENABLE THEM TO SEE THAT IT IS THEIR INTEREST TO PRESERVE PEACE AND ORDER, AND THEY WILL PRESERVE THEM. ENLIGHTEN THE PEOPLE GENERALLY, AND TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION OF THE BODY AND MIND WILL VANISH LIKE EVIL SPIRITS AT THE DAWN OF DAY.

Jefferson to James Madison, December 20, 1787 (first two sentences);
Jefferson to P.S. Dupont de Nemours, April 24, 18l6 (last sentence).

Usufruct,” the Word of the Day for April 13.

Jefferson was born April 2, 1843, under the old Julian calendar (O.S., or Old System) — April 13 on the Gregorian calendar.

How should we celebrate?

More:

 


Louisiana Purchase Day: All over including the shouting

December 20, 2011

December 20 is the anniversary of the 1803 completion of the Louisiana Purchase, with the formal transfer of title at a ceremony in New Orleans.  Ceremony could have been in Paris, Washington, or New Orleans.

Did our forefathers know about how to party, or what?

The documents, from the Library of Congress:

Transfer of Louisiana title from France to the U.S., December 20, 1803

History of the Transfer, according to the 8th Congress - Image 1 (Click image for a larger view at the Library of Congress)

 

Transfer of Louisiana from France to the U.S., December 20, 1803 -- documents from Congress history

Documents of transfer of Louisiana, from France to the U.S., December 20, 1803 - Library of Congress images - Image 2

Louisiana transfer, December 20, 1803 -- official records - Library of Congress

Louisiana transfer, Image 3

 


Quote of the moment: John Adams, celebrating the 2nd of July

July 1, 2011

“The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
John Adams to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

1776 filled the calendar with dates deserving of remembrance and even celebration.  John Adams, delegate from Massachusetts to the Second Continental Congress, wrote home to his wife Abigail that future generations would celebrate July 2, the date the Congress voted to approve Richard Henry Lee’s resolution declaring independence from Britain for 13 of the British colonies in America.

Two days later, that same Congress approved the wording of the document Thomas Jefferson had drafted to announce Lee’s resolution to the world.

Today, we celebrate the date of the document Jefferson wrote, and Richard Henry Lee is often a reduced to a footnote, if not erased from history altogether.

Who can predict the future?

(You know, of course, that Adams and Jefferson both died 50 years to the day after the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1826.  In the 50 intervening years, Adams and Jefferson were comrades in arms and diplomacy in Europe, officers of the new government in America, opposing candidates for the presidency, President and Vice President, ex-President and President, bitter enemies, then long-distance friends writing almost daily about how to make a great new nation.  Read David McCullough‘s version of the story, if you can find it.)

Update, July 4, 2013: You may want to check the updated version of this post, with more links, and even more history.

2015 edition, with more links for teachers and historians, here.


Quote of the moment: Thomas Jefferson on public works

March 21, 2011

Map of "internal improvements" in Virginia - Library of Congress

Map of "internal improvements" in Virginia - Library of Congress: "What is the transportation improvement between Fairfax Courthouse and Warrenton - the Alexandria-Warrenton turnpike, or the Orange and Alexandria Railroad? Can you spot the Columbia Pike connecting the Little River Turnpike to Washington DC, via Alexandria (now Arlington) County? Note how roads do not connect Dumfries to the Shenandoah Valley... Source: A map of the internal improvements of Virginia; prepared by C. Crozet, late principal engineer of Va. under a resolution of the General Assembly adopted March 15th, 1848, Library of Congress"

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, they called public works, “internal improvements.”

The fondest wish of my heart ever was that the surplus portion of these taxes, destined for the payment of that debt, should, when that object was accomplished, be continued, by annual or biennial re-enactments, and applied, in time of peace, to the improvements of our country by canals, roads, and useful institutions, literary or others; and, in time of war, to the maintenance of the war.

♦  Thomas Jefferson, in letter to John Wayles Eppes, Poplar Forest, September 11, 1813; found in The Quotable Jefferson, collected and edited by John P. Kaminski, Princeton University Press, 2006


%d bloggers like this: