Saturday, July 17, 2010

"When Thomas Jefferson Dined Alone"

A scholar, author, architect, scientist and statesman, Thomas Jefferson applied his brilliant mind to many activities. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses when he was only 25, served in the Continental Congress, was governor of Virginia, and a diplomat in France where he helped negotiate the treaties that ended the Revolutionary War.

He also founded the University of Virginia, was fluent in six languages, including Latin, French, Spanish, Italian and Greek, and wrote the Declaration of Independence at the age of 33! He then served as Secretary of State under George Washington, as Vice President under John Adams, and, along with his good pal James Madison, wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in defense of states’ rights and the freedom of speech.

During his presidency, Jefferson did many more important things: he repealed the Alien and Sedition Acts, eliminated an unpopular whiskey tax, and sent our navy to fight Barbary pirates who were harassing American ships on the Mediterranean Sea. He also doubled the size of the country by purchasing the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803 and then commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore western lands which, back then, to most Americans, were totally unknown.

It’s no wonder then that at a Nobel Prize dinner held at the White House in 1962, President John F. Kennedy joked that so many brilliant minds had never been gathered together at the White House "with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."