Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, born 266 years ago today, is different things to different people. I suppose his everlasting legacy will be, "All men are created equal." But of course we puzzle over his owning slaves. He opposed a strong central government, and had little or no say in the writing of the Constitution. Yet when he became president he stretched the powers of the executive branch many times, not the least of which was the Louisiana purchase, which doubled the size of the United States and used federal money to do so. He stated his discomfort with slavery, but unlike George Washington he did not free his slaves upon his death. He was an uncontrolled spender and left huge debts. He was a man of science and evidence, yet upon his wife's death he locked himself in his room for weeks on end and could not be consoled. He opposed organized religion and wrote of his disbelief in Jesus as the Savior, but proclaimed himself a Christian. So, in the end I view him as a great man... a man with the same failings as all of us.

And perhaps the model for all Americans.