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"If I was to die, today or tomorrow, I do not think I would die satisfied till you tell me you will try and marry some good, smart man that will take care of you and the children"

Author Jon Meacham has a new book out on Thomas Jefferson. It is reviewed in the New York Times: Cultivating Control in a Nation’s Crucible
But this book does not address its principal concern, power, until Jefferson has accrued some. When it comes to the force that he wielded as a slaveholder, Mr. Meacham finds ways to suggest that thoughts of abolition would have been premature; that it was not uncommon for white heads of households to be waited on by slaves who bore family resemblances to their masters; and that since Jefferson treated slavery as a blind spot, the book can too.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 3, 2012 - 44 comments

"If the end is right it justifies the beans."

The Online Musical started as a 2010 University of Virginia student project to create an interactive online musical based on audience feeback , called Musical: The Online Musical. It continued after that project finished, moving on to mini musicals (Thomas Jefferson: The Musical, Pokemon: The Musical, Where's Waldo?: The Musical), and other musical works (a dub step treatment of Les Miserables). Their most recent project is less musical, more dystopian: The Beanie Baby Hunger Games. [more inside]
posted by ZeusHumms on Mar 31, 2012 - 12 comments

The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth

After his presidency, Thomas Jefferson took on the task of re-editing the New Testament by literally cutting and pasting a new version of the text, shorn of Jesus's miracles and the Resurrection. Titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (but known more commonly today as the Jefferson Bible), the handmade book had begun to crumble after nearly two centuries. Now, after a painstaking conservation process, the Jefferson Bible has been digitized, and will be on exhibition at the Smithsonian though May 2012. (Previously)
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 6, 2011 - 64 comments

Let Facts be submitted to a candid world

The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
posted by Rhaomi on Jul 4, 2011 - 72 comments

Find the enemy, attack him, invade his land, raise hell while you’re at it.

Historically famous men and their use of pocket notebooks (spread over two pages).
posted by gman on Sep 13, 2010 - 31 comments

FDR: "People who are hungry, people who are out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."

The United States was engaged in the largest two-front war of its, or any nation's history. Though victory was not yet certain, there were discussions on a multi-national level regarding the future peace, and on the President of the United States was looking to the post-war prospects for the nation. With that in mind, the annual address of the President to Congress and the nation was summed up in one word: Security. "And that means not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors. It means also economic security, social security, moral security -- in a family of nations." This was Franklin D. Roosevelt's third-to-last Fireside Chat, presented on Tuesday, January 11, 1944, which included what he proposed to be the Second Bill of Rights. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 16, 2010 - 67 comments

Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan

There was a rivalry between the parties, of course, but in Potter's account, it was more like the rivalry between Cal and Stanford than that between today's Republicans and Democrats. The parties had somewhat different constituencies and pledged fealty to a different set of men, but each attempted to encompass as much of the political spectrum as possible rather than merely half of it. The story of the 1850s, by these lights, is about how this changed.
With reference to David M. Potter's The Impending Crisis, Adam Cadre surveys the four antebellum presidents. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Oct 22, 2009 - 23 comments

Time Wastes Too Fast

Maira Kalman does it again, with a beautifully illustrated blog post about her visit to Mr. Jefferson's Monticello. [more inside]
posted by gingerbeer on Jun 28, 2009 - 26 comments

"Architecture is my delight, and putting up and pulling down one of my favorite amusements."

Happy birthday, Mr. Jefferson! Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd US president, was born on this day in 1743 (actually, April 2nd, but then the calendar changed in 1752). Certainly celebrations and examinations of his leadership and politics and philosophy and inventions are warranted, but-damn, that man was amazing with a drafting compass. TJ's greatest hits: Monticello, Poplar Forest, The University
posted by njbradburn on Apr 13, 2009 - 23 comments

Thomas Jefferson Papers

The Massachusetts Historical Society has a nice collection of Thomas Jefferson's papers online. It includes two catalogs of Jefferson's books, a draft of the Declaration of Independence and his Garden Book. Architectural Drawings too! [more inside]
posted by marxchivist on Aug 22, 2008 - 6 comments

Thomas Jefferson's Library On Exhibit

WWJD (Which Words Jefferson Digested) Some Flash
posted by Rykey on Jul 9, 2008 - 4 comments

The Jefferson Bible

Thomas Jefferson so wanted to fix what he thought was wrong with religion that he rewrote the Bible. He went through and cut out the parts that he liked most and pasted it to a fifth volume. He cut out Miracles. He cut out the Christmas story. He cut out most of the Easter story. Resurrection is gone. Wikipedia. previously
posted by nax on Mar 16, 2008 - 64 comments

A Big Cheese for a Big Cheese

The Mammoth Cheese of Cheshire was the most unusual gift ever given to a President of the United States. In the aftermath of the "Revolution of 1800", the eccentric Baptist preacher John Leland decided to celebrate the presidency of Thomas Jefferson by convincing the predominantly Baptist farmers of Cheshire, Massachusetts to create a giant 1,235-pound block of cheese as a monument to small-"r" republicanism and religious freedom. [more inside]
posted by jonp72 on Dec 3, 2007 - 29 comments

Jefferson Muzzles

The Jefferson Muzzles are awarded as a means to draw national attention to abridgments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an appreciation for those tenets of the First Amendment.
posted by papercake on Apr 13, 2004 - 8 comments

Over God

Founding fathers quotations about religion. Sick of hearing fundie pundies say "the US was founded on a vision of Christianity"? Let TJ and the crew speak for themselves.
posted by condour75 on Oct 14, 2003 - 37 comments

Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday

Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday. Today, the Library of Congress celebrates its 202nd birthday. On April 24, 1800, President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purchase of "such books as may be necessary for the use of congress."
The books, the first purchased for the Library of Congress, were ordered from London and arrived in 1801. The collection of 740 volumes and three maps was stored in the U.S. Capitol, the Library's first home. President Thomas Jefferson approved the first legislation defining the role and functions of the new institution on January 26, 1802.
Check out, Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress and a Concordance of Images for more.
posted by Blake on Apr 24, 2003 - 12 comments

Sneering at President John Adams as "querulous, Bald, blind, crippled, Toothless Adams"

Sneering at President John Adams as "querulous, Bald, blind, crippled, Toothless Adams" got Ben Franklin's grandson arrested under the Sedition Act of 1798. Federalists like Adams and Alexander Hamilton used the Sedition Act to muzzle highly aggressive elements of the press. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison fought back -- and won. Understanding this early power grab by the U.S. executive branch helps put recent events into historical context. The struggle itself has been part of the United States of America since the beginning, and anyone working to fight Cheney and Ashcroft's unconstitutional assault happens to be in pretty good company. Happy Fourth of July.
posted by mediareport on Jul 3, 2002 - 13 comments

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