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The Thomas Jefferson Hour

The Thomas Jefferson Hour features conversations with Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, as portrayed by the award-winning humanities scholar and author, Clay Jenkinson. The weekly discussion features Mr. Jefferson’s views on events of his time, contemporary issues facing America and answers to questions submitted by his many listeners. To ask President Jefferson a question visit his website at www.jeffersonhour.com
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Nov 20, 2018

We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving from the Thomas Jefferson Hour. This week, we speak to four friends including Lisa Suhay, who tells us about her new book America the Grateful; Pat Brodowski, the head gardener at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello; luthier Kevin Muiderman, who gives us an update on the ukulele he is building for Clay; and Nashville-based songwriter Brad Crisler, who tells us about his plans for Thanksgiving in Alabama.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Nov 13, 2018

"You have a population of 330 million. This is a way that the whole system is designed to distill their will." — Clay S. Jenkinson

The results of the 2018 midterm elections are what we try to sort out this week: what it means, what it implies, and how it fits into Jefferson's view of the United States. Jefferson said it is necessary to give, as well as take, in a government like ours, and we wonder if if we do a good enough job at that. Both parties claimed victory after the November 6th election, and maybe that's true, maybe that isn't, but Jefferson's view is that it was kind of what you would expect for a midterm election, no matter who was president. Jefferson also said that conscience is the only clue which will eternally guide us. He loved the idea that people would participate in self-government. The number of people who voted in the 2018 election was through the roof. Unprecedented. Record setting. Jefferson would be so pleased. In 1824, Jefferson wrote to Edward Livingston: "A government held together by the bands of reason only, requires much compromise of opinion; that things even salutary should not be crammed down the throats of dissenting brethren, especially when they may be put into a form to be willingly swallowed, and that a great deal of indulgence is necessary to strengthen habits of harmony and fraternity."

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Nov 9, 2018

"We need to protest firmly without any ambiguity whatsoever." — Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. 

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson

Nov 6, 2018

"This is a French school of economics and social thinking that I subscribed to, at least in part, that says that wealth comes from the soil"

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

President Jefferson answers listener questions about Jefferson as a guide for our troubled times, Jefferson’s views on slavery, and his thoughts on J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur's Letters from an American Farmer, published in 1782.

Crèvecœur, the French physiocrat, wrote a beautiful book about agrarianism that Jefferson found fascinating. We also answered a question from a teacher at David Crockett Middle School in Amarillo, Texas, and Mr Jefferson had a bit of criticism for the state of Texas. Texas did not follow the Jeffersonian paradigm of development, and Jefferson found that a little hard to take. We've got a great letter from Mr. Jeff Woods, who sort of reinforced the idea that Jeffersonianism can still work, that those checks and balances and Jeffersonian harmony are still possible, even in the crazy world that we live in today.

In this week's Jefferson watch, a journey to Yellowstone National Park.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Nov 2, 2018

"Everyone in that public place would know which candidate he voted for."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Oct 30, 2018

"It's a very patriotic story in the best sense of the word … these were people who were fighting for a cause."

— Tom Clavin

Clay and David are joined by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, the #1 New York Times bestselling authors, to discuss their newest book, Valley Forge.

In December of 1777, the American Continental Army struggled to survive the coming winter. Valley Forge tells the story of how this army, after a string of demoralizing defeats, not only survived, but regrouped to take advantage of their last chance at redemption in a stunning victory at the Battle of Monmouth Court House.

Valley Forge was the darkest moment of the revolutionary war. Twelve thousand American troops were stationed at a place 23 miles northwest of Philadelphia. If there could be suffering, they felt it at Valley Forge — nearly starving, mutiny, disease, internecine struggles, you name it. Drury and Clavin also give us insights about Alexander Hamilton, and perhaps why George Washington listened to him so carefully. Of all of the people who have a role in this great story, Thomas Jefferson is not one of them, and for that reason, all of those present never quite felt that Jefferson was fully one of the band of brothers.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Oct 26, 2018

"I would hope the states would handle that and the government of the United States would only serve as a referee."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Oct 23, 2018

"Our technology that has unleashed such creativity has also unleashed the capacity for us to destroy the very things that we were creating."

— Char Miller

Clay and David speak with Char Miller, one of the three authors of the 3rd edition of Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land. Char Miller is Director of Environmental Analysis, and W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis and History at Pomona College.

Drop Jefferson into western Kansas or Oklahoma. What does he say about the Ogallala miracle? The Ogallala aquifer is a huge underground water resource which stretches from South Dakota all the way to Texas — an underground lake the size of Lake Huron that most people have never heard of. The aquifer is used to create one of the best agricultural productivity zones on Earth. It supplies water to people, industry and agriculture, and it's expected to run dry by the end of the century. The aquifer is now living on borrowed time because of its decline as a fossil resource. How would Jefferson have reacted to all of this?

Ogallala: Water for a Dry Land is coauthored by John Opie, Kenna Lang Archer, and Char Miller.

Oct 19, 2018

"If you study this, you'll know what can go wrong, and maybe you'll be able to prevent it"

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Oct 16, 2018

"Indeed, if I read the founders right, their greatest legacy is the recognition that argument itself is the answer."

— Joseph J. Ellis

We welcome back Professor Joseph Ellis — the eminent historian, author and friend of the Jefferson Hour — to speak about his new book, American Dialogue: The Founders and Us, which is out now.

No historian of the early national period of American life has done more than Joseph Ellis to give us a sense of what it was like then: what were the challenges, what were the opportunities, the different types of personalities that went into the mix. It was not a monolith. Ellis is maybe the most spirited prose stylist of all of the historians of that period, and he's interested in four of our national figures from that era, particularly Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and the first president of the United States, George Washington. Ellis uses the founders as a springboard to wrestle with eternal problems of American life.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Oct 12, 2018

"I realized that this was so deeply rooted in the American social, economic, and political life, that it was going to take an extraordinary movement to rid ourselves of slavery."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Oct 9, 2018

"You think I'm joking, but I wanted a square America."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson goes on the road this week to Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. The performance was taped live at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on September 15, 2018 in front of an audience of over 500 people. The event was hosted by Dustin Treiber, the program director of Four States Public Radio station KRPS.

The subject of this episode was the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson, to begin the conversation, pointed out to the citizens of Kansas that he bought the state for three cents per acre from Napoleon Bonaparte.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Oct 2, 2018

We speak with President Thomas Jefferson (as portrayed by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson) about reading - one of his favorite pastimes. We also talk about the teachers who inspired his lifelong habit of reading and Jefferson’s fascination with the Ossian, first published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson in 1760.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Sep 25, 2018

"We should always listen to science. Science is not political. Science is rational."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

President Thomas Jefferson answers listener questions this week, including inquiries about Jefferson and wine, Welsh “Indians” in the Dakotas, repairing friendships, and the idea that “the rain followed the plow” during Jefferson’s time.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Sep 18, 2018

"This period was, in some ways, the most satisfying period of Jefferson's life, and in some ways it was the most radical."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

This week, as promised, and in anticipation of Clay’s upcoming cultural tour of Jefferson’s France in October 2019, we devote an entire show to discussion of Jefferson’s time as Minister to France from 1784 to 1789.

Jefferson spent five of the most extraordinary years of his life in France. He fell in love with French people and French culture, but he also got to witness a second great revolution in a single lifetime: the beginnings of the French Revolution. It was one of the most formative times of Mr. Jefferson's life, and he carried what he called the little flame of liberty across the Atlantic in the summer of 1784. Jefferson was thrilled to see that the principles that we had fought for and established in our new system were now being used to change the world — that all of Europe he thought was going to follow the path of the United States. It didn't quite work out that way, but that was his optimism.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Sep 14, 2018

"Down in the southwest, two expeditions occurred during my presidency."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Sep 11, 2018

"He saw a nation that collapsed right in front of him and he thought, 'well, I wonder why nations collapse,' and I think that really led to some great thinking."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

We respond to listener mail this week, including questions related to the principle of one-person one-vote, and we discuss replies to Clay’s request for some thoughtful conservative perspectives from listeners who support the Trump administration.

We love questions, comments, and small essays from our listeners from all over the country — even all over the world. We take them all seriously and we try to address as many as we can. Sometimes it's easier to address them out of character, and that's this week's program. We talk about a whole range of subjects, all of them generated by our listeners who are fascinated by the connection between Jefferson's era and the current chaos, whatever it is, in our national political arena. We read a letter from our new political friend down south, Tim Clemmons, who wonders whether we are really fair about certain questions of the give and take of our Justice Department. Plus, David gets a chance to brag about his two pound tomato, an Amana Orange.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Sep 7, 2018

"A statesman is one who always asks what is best for this country."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Sep 4, 2018

"I'm like everyone else, I'm in the middle. I see some benefits on both edges of the spectrum, but I don't want either of them to prevail."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

Clay asked listeners to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, how alarmed they are about the current state of political affairs in the United States. Rather than just giving a number, many listeners responded with many thoughtful letters. This week we share and read portions from 17 of those letters.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Aug 31, 2018

"I believe that each faction, each party, has a moral duty to reach over to the other and to try to find common ground, and that each party should take the lead in being civil and respectful and generous."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Aug 28, 2018

"George Washington ... was as close to a perfect human being as we believed existed on Earth."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

This week, we speak with President Jefferson about George Washington's farewell address which was first published in Philadelphia's American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796, 222 years ago.

Presidents leave a little note in the desk for their successor, and the public always wants to know what's in those notes. We seldom learn that, but the tradition of giving a farewell address is no longer a big part of American life. The last one was Eisenhower, but Washington set the tone in 1796. President Jefferson tells us what he thought of that tone. We know that Jefferson was aware that Madison wrote the first draft, and Hamilton the final draft, of Washington's farewell address. Mr. Jefferson was not too happy about that. He saw that Madison had recovered his senses and had now broken with the Federalists, and he hated the fact that Hamilton played a role in the great man's life.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Aug 24, 2018

"I think the American people are overwhelmingly good and decent."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Aug 21, 2018

"Can we talk? Can we try to argue about where we are and where we're going and use the founders as a source of wisdom that might allow us to have a safe place to meet and to talk about this with civility, but with fervor?"

— Joseph J. Ellis

Clay and David discuss how to conduct better arguments, and also speak with author Joseph Ellis to talk about his new book American Dialogue, which will be released this fall. Professor Joseph Ellis is the author of a great number of books about the founding fathers, including some of our favorites.

There's talk of violence against journalists; how can we ratchet down our national discourse rather than continue to ratchet it up? Jefferson's mantra was, 'We disagree, but if we do, we disagree as rational friends,' and Dr. Ellis is saying, disagreement is the beginning of wisdom and harmony.

ind this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Aug 17, 2018

"Whatever's wrong with the press, we must defend it, because the alternative is tyranny."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

Aug 14, 2018

"He was part of the extension of slavery that made the Civil War inevitable, and that led to almost 800,000 deaths."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

This week President Thomas Jefferson speaks about the political mistakes he made.

Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog.

Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc.

You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

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