Considering the never-ending attacks on our founding fathers, the noise about how horrible they were with their capitalism, slaves and racism, it is time to put history in perspective.
These were men of their time who through genius, faith, perseverance, belief in the rights of men to be free and independent, dedicated their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create a new nation based on principles that were never before imagined.
Among the giants of the days of our founding, some stood taller than the rest. One of the tallest was Thomas Jefferson, born on April 13, 1743. He established the University of Virginia. He established the right of freedom of religion in Virginia and authored our Declaration of Independence.
Our Declaration of Independence is one of the greatest documents written in the history of humanity. Our U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are the high-water marks of an individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property).
In terms of rights and freedoms, the principles of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are the gold standard of human rights.
Jefferson and his contemporaries had the words right. The words expressed our ideals as a free people. They knew if the words rang true, if we were to be one nation, one people, the words must be applied to all people. They weren’t. It was the duty of future generations to make our deeds fit our words. It is a work in progress.
I wonder what Jefferson would say if he could speak about our nation today. I am certain he would praise the end of slavery and indenture. He would have supported extending the franchise to women.
He would take great satisfaction in the amazing progress that was made by Americas of all stripes in all fields of endeavor. Consider the scientific advancements Americans have made in medicine, agriculture, industry and other areas. The inventions, efficiencies, economic progress, rise of public education, protections of freedom of speech, religion and the press that followed his work. He would have embraced the rise of the middle class of hardworking successful generations that made our Republic a beacon of freedom to the world.
He would abhor the never-ending expansion of the power of the federal government. If he saw the corruptness of our deep state, the close minded media, colleges and universities that decry freedom of speech, rewrite history and spew dangerous freedom-killing philosophies in classrooms, he would be shocked. If he visited public schools that fail children in urban areas generation after generation, drowning them in a sea of one-world socialism, ignoring our history and denying our moral heritage, he might wonder if the blood spilled during the revolution was a mistake.
Jefferson was aware of excessive governmental powers. He suggested a little revolution might be a good thing if it resulted in the usurpation of a tyrannical government.
I am sure Jefferson would be both saddened and angry at the vile attacks on his generation. As tall as he was, he would stand taller among those of our generation who fight to preserve our Republic —those in our time who expanded freedoms to others in the world and those who fight for life, our God given freedoms and nation here at home. The decline of faith, morals, civility and patriotism would sadden him. It was Jefferson who said, “I pray for my nation knowing God is just.”
In addition to his contributions to the founding of our Republic, Jefferson gave us many thoughts to consider.
Jefferson once said, “The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest.”
Another thought from Jefferson goes like this: “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
And, on political division, he said: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
How far we have strayed from this wellspring of our nation. May we rededicate ourselves to return to our founding principles.
Happy birthday, Thomas Jefferson, and thank you for the gift of our free nation.
Jim Hofmann says he is ecstatically retired in Moab with a wife he doesn’t deserve. As an Arches volunteer, he says living here is better than a pot of gold.
“Happy birthday, Thomas Jefferson, and thank you for the gift of our free nation.”