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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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May 23, 2017

"We have now a goodly field before us, & I have no wish superior to that of seeing it judiciously cultivated; that every Man, especially those who have labored to prepare it, may reap a fruitful Harvest”

— George Washington, 1784

Nearly 50 years later, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that, “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?”

This week we discuss the American character with President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson believed that the American character would be the best in the history of the world: because of our agrarianism, our distance from the havoc of the Old World, our public education, and our resourcefulness that we needed to develop because there were no outside experts. While Adams felt that without a strong American character, "the strongest Cords of our Constitution [would be broken] as a Whale goes through a Net." John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were dear friends; they disagreed about many things. One thing they agreed upon was that this experiment would only work if we had unique character.

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

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net. There, you can also find the Lochsa Lodge retreats: one on Walden and another on Shakespeare.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

May 16, 2017

"[Thomas Jefferson] could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play a violin." — James Parton, 1874

This week, we ask President Jefferson to confirm or deny these reported talents.

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

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net. There, you can also find the Lochsa Lodge retreats: one on Walden and another on Shakespeare.

Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson

May 9, 2017

"Somewhere in Jefferson, something happened where the European mindset turned and started looking to the west. He started looking toward possibility in a different way." — Kent Nerburn

We welcome two special guests to the Thomas Jefferson Hour this week for an out-of-character discussion about Jefferson’s policies towards Native Americans. Joining us are the independent filmmaker Steven Lewis Simpson and author Kent Nerburn. We talk about Simpson's recent film adaptation of Nerburn’s book, “Neither Wolf nor Dog”, and about Jefferson’s long shadow when it comes to the United States' conduct regarding American Indians.

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

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net. There, you can also find the Lochsa Lodge retreats: one on Walden and another on Shakespeare.

Steven Lewis Simpson, at 18, was the youngest fully-qualified stockbroker and trader in Britain. By 22, Simpson had moved to Los Angeles to work in the film industry.  He is now a writer, producer, and director, as well as the owner of Roaring Fire Films. You can read his full bio here. Visit Roaring Fire Films to sign up for the Neither Wolf nor Dog movie mailing list.

Kent Nerburn is the author of more than a dozen books, including Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder. He was born, raised and resides in Minnesota. You can learn more about him here, or read his bibliography which includes links to purchase his books.

May 2, 2017

"Jefferson embodies — in many respects, not in all of them — the world that I want to live in. I want to live in Thomas Jefferson's America." — Clay

This week, we discuss listener questions about architecture, Sally Hemings, revolutionary war, Jefferson as a scientist, recommended books and how Clay's life has been affected by performing as Thomas Jefferson.

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

Clay will be taking part in a Conversation at Bismarck State College with BSC President Larry Skogen on May 7th at 3 p.m. They'll be discussing the topic: "The Quincentennial of the Protestant Reformation: A Reevaluation of the Reformation (1517-1650)". You can learn more at bismarckstate.edu.

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Apr 25, 2017

This week, we speak with Pat Brodowski, head gardener at Jefferson’s Monticello. Pat shares her knowledge about how and why Jefferson grew the plants he did, the experimental nature of the household gardens and what is being done to maintain the gardens during our time. It’s a fascinating conversation which provides some real insight on Jefferson the gardener.

Find this episode, along with photos of Pat Brodowski and the gardens of Monticello, on the blog.

Clay will be taking part in a Conversation at Bismarck State College with BSC President Larry Skogen on May 7th at 3 p.m. They'll be discussing the topic: "The Quincentennial of the Protestant Reformation: A Reevaluation of the Reformation (1517-1650)". You can learn more at bismarckstate.edu.

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Apr 18, 2017

"The constitution ... is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist, and shape into any form they please." — Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1819

Thomas Jefferson had a unique and slightly odd view of the proper place of the judicial branch in America. He thought of judicial independence as both a strength and a weakness of our system: you want judges that are independent of popular factionalism but you want them to be accountable to the sovereign, to the American people. Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson, discusses his concept of judicial balance, his lifelong displeasure with the Supreme Court, and some of the changes that he thinks should be made. He said of life-tenured judges, 'Few die and none resign.'

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

Read Clay's Jefferson Watch essay, "Good News for America".

Clay will be performing as Thomas Jefferson at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, VA on April 19th. Find more info and buy tickets here.

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Apr 11, 2017

"The Vice Presidency turned out to be just what Jefferson had predicted: 'philosophic evenings in winter' and summers at his beloved Monticello." — Clay

This week on the Thomas Jefferson Hour, we return to "Jefferson 101", our biographical series. Reluctantly, Jefferson came out of retirement to serve as vice president for four years under his old friend John Adams. They were of different political persuasions and they, in a sense, became the heads of different political parties. Adams & Jefferson were friends when Jefferson's vice presidency began but there was a long period afterwards when they couldn't really abide each other; in the end, in 1812, their friendship was restored and it became one of the great reconciliations of American history. During his vice presidency, Jefferson contributed a rule book to the Senate: A Manual of Parliamentary Practice for the Use of the Senate of the United States.

Jefferson meant it: He preferred the happiness of Monticello to the burdens of power — but he loved this country more than he loved his own happiness.

This is Jefferson 118.

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

Read Clay's Jefferson Watch essay, "A Cul-de-Sac and a Bucket of Piss".

Clay will be performing as Thomas Jefferson at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, VA on April 19th. Find more info and buy tickets here.

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Apr 4, 2017

"Jefferson regarded the national debt as a national disgrace."

This week, President Jefferson (as portrayed by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson) explains his reasoning behind his federal budget and why he felt it was essential to pay down the national debt that he inherited. We also learn about some of the people who helped Jefferson develop the budget, including Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin.

Jefferson dedicated his administration to reducing the national debt as severely as possible. As always, there are parallels between Jefferson's time and ours. He wanted to cut taxes and the size of the federal government, but he also wanted to cut the size of the Army and Navy; you don't hear that kind of talk much in our time. In this case, Jefferson was an idealogue about fiscal responsibility.

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

Read Clay's Jefferson Watch essay, "The Most Jeffersonian Thing in America".

Clay will be performing as Thomas Jefferson at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, VA on April 19th. Find more info and buy tickets here.

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Mar 28, 2017

"[Meriwether Lewis] kept promising copy and he never sent a single page. We don't know what, if anything, became of his manuscript. We have nothing. He wouldn't communicate with us."

— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

President Jefferson talks about the Lewis & Clark expedition and America's role as an “Empire of liberty". Jefferson, that Type A keeper of records, was disappointed that Meriwether Lewis failed to complete his book about the journey. Lewis was Jefferson's neighbor, his protégé, his private secretary in the White House, and he led the most successful expedition in American history — a voyage Clay & David have spent many years discussing, and one that Clay revisits by foot and by canoe each summer with Odyssey Tours.

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

Clay will be performing as Thomas Jefferson at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, VA on April 19th. Find more info and buy tickets here.

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Mar 21, 2017

"You can't understand Jefferson without understanding slavery; you can't understand the paradox of his life and the words that he wrote in the Declaration of Independence without understanding this historical connection with Sally Hemings and with the enslaved people in general at Monticello."

— Niya Bates, Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation

A variety of subjects are covered on the Thomas Jefferson Hour this week, including a discussion about Benjamin Franklin Bache's newspaper the Philadelphia Aurora, the effect negative press had on politicians during Jefferson’s time and an interview with Niya Bates about restoration work ongoing at Monticello.

You can find a full transcript of our conversation with Niya Bates here.

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

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Mar 14, 2017

Our conversation this week is with the scholar, Charles Slack. Slack is the author of Liberty's First Crisis: Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech. His book chronicles the tumultuous early years of the United States when dissent was so feared that those who dared to criticize the government were put in prison or deported through the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Our discussion focuses on three individuals: Matthew Lyon, the congressman from Vermont; Benjamin Franklin Bache, the grandson of the famous Dr. Franklin; and James Thomson Callender, the notorious Scottish journalist who helped break the Sally Hemings story in 1802. Once again, we find out how little some things have changed over the years. Sometimes the less-than-wholly-respectable journalists wind up doing a very important service to democracy.

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

Read Clay's essay, "Ranking American Presidents."

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Mar 7, 2017

 

Today, listeners call us and ask questions directly to President Jefferson. The inquiries cover a broad collection of topics: Jefferson's relationship with the press, postage costs during his time, President Andrew Jackson, patents, banking, and a request for advice on getting involved with local government.

Interested in appearing on a future call-in episode? Please submit your questions!

Find this episode, and further recommended reading, on the blog.

Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

Feb 28, 2017

President Thomas Jefferson explains the Logan Act's origin, its possible uses and its connection to Alexander Hamilton.

George Logan was a Quaker, doctor, farmer and state legislator from Pennsylvania who undertook, as a private citizen and at his own expense, a diplomatic mission to France in 1798 — and what was his reward? The Federalists and the Congress of the United States passed the Logan Act, prohibiting that from ever happening again. Despite Logan's good intentions, and his good results, his name is associated with an act that prohibits private citizens from meddling in the foreign policy of the United States.

Find this episode, Clay's Jefferson Watch essay, and further recommended reading, on the blog.

Feb 21, 2017

We return to our “Jefferson 101” series with a continued discussion about Jefferson’s period of retirement after his term as Secretary of State ended in 1793 and he returned to Monticello. Subjects include Jefferson’s reasons for leaving Washington, the Jay treaty, slavery and a revealing letter Jefferson wrote to his daughter Maria.

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

 

Feb 17, 2017

Clay S. Jenkinson discusses Thomas Jefferson’s election as President in 1801, his first 100 days in office, and notes the sometimes-uncanny parallels with our time.

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

Learn more about "John Steinbeck’s California", the Spring 2017 Tour & Retreat hosted by Odyssey Tours, a division of Bek, Inc.

For more information, visit Odyssey Tours online or contact Becky Cawley: (208) 791-8721 or bek@odytours.net

Feb 10, 2017

In this 16th installment of the Jefferson 101 Series, we discuss the period from 1794 to 1797 and Jefferson’s return to Monticello after his tenure as Secretary of State.

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

Learn more about "John Steinbeck’s California" Spring Book Retreat/Tour 2017, hosted by Odyssey Tours, a div. of Bek, Inc.

For more information, visit Odyssey Tours online or contact Becky Cawley: (208) 791-8721 or bek@odytours.net

Feb 3, 2017

President Thomas Jefferson is asked to provide context for presidential inaugurations. Clay & David discuss our third president's inaugural address — its content & its tone — while comparing it to the address of our forty-fifth president, Donald Trump.

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

From “The People’s Friend”, which was written & composed for the inaugural celebration of March 4th, 1801:

What joyful prospects rise before
Peace, Arts and Science hail our Shore
And through the Country spread
Long may these blessings be preserved
And by a virtuous Land deserved
With Jefferson our head

Read Clay's essay on Donald Trump inaugural address, The Jefferson Watch: The Inauguration.

Listen to this week's 1776 Club broadcast, Forward Motion. Clay: "It's going to be an interesting year, let's put it that way. My goal is the same always: I want the Jefferson Hour to proliferate because I believe that Jefferson is the answer."

"John Steinbeck’s California", the spring book retreat & tour with Clay S. Jenkinson, will be held March 4-10, 2017. This retreat is hosted by Odyssey Tours, a div. of Bek, Inc. For more information, visit Odyssey Tours online or contact Becky Cawley: (208) 791-8721 or bek@odytours.net

Jan 27, 2017

We speak with President Thomas Jefferson this week about the unexpected emergence of the two-party political system during his time.

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

Learn more about "John Steinbeck’s California" Spring Book Retreat/Tour 2017, hosted by Odyssey Tours, a div. of Bek, Inc.

For more information, visit Odyssey Tours online or contact Becky Cawley: (208) 791-8721 or bek@odytours.net

Jan 26, 2017

In the first of a new series of essays, Clay draws comparisons between the inaugurations of Presidents Donald Trump and Thomas Jefferson.

The full essay can also be found on the blog.

"By not acknowledging the fact of the opposition—and making some gesture of his desire to represent them too, to find a way to win their approval—Trump spoke about 'the People' in a way that is merely demagogic and symbolic but without any fundamental truth or reality. ... Had he been a Jeffersonian, Trump would have acknowledged the polarization of the country."

Learn more about the 1776 Club.

Jan 20, 2017

This bonus episode is an excerpt from #752 Inaugural, originally published in January of 2009. Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson, discusses his inaugural address of March 4th, 1801.

You can hear the original episode in full on the blog.

Yale provides the full text of Jefferson's First Inaugural Address.

Jan 20, 2017

This week, we return with the 15th installment of the “Jefferson 101” series. In this second of two shows discussing Jefferson’s time as the first Secretary of State, we learn more about Jefferson’s vision of America and the strong disagreements he had with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

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

Jan 13, 2017

This week, we return with the 14th installment of the “Jefferson 101” series. The program is the first of two shows discussing Jefferson’s time as the first Secretary of State. It begins with the story of Jefferson’s return from Europe and the effect his time in France had on his own political sentiments.

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

Jan 6, 2017

Clay S. Jenkinson, the creator of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, shares stories about his 2016 trip to Rome. Clay talks about the effect Rome had on Jefferson, despite the fact that Jefferson never visited the city.

Read more on the blog, where you can find images of the art and architecture discussed on this episode, along with additional recommended reading.

"I think [Jefferson] would have been a little offended, aesthetically, by the bulk and the weight and the density of the Pantheon. I think he would have said, 'That's not exactly the message we're trying to create in the United States. The message we're trying to create is of order, symmetry, an inspirational lift to the human spirit.'"

Dec 30, 2016

Clay & David recall and re-listen to some of the more memorable moments on the Thomas Jefferson Hour during the past year.

You can support the show by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization under tax ID #46-5726534.

Read more on the blog.

 

Dec 23, 2016

Attempting to move President Jefferson into the Christmas Spirit is always a challenge, and this year is no different. This year, we present excerpts from past Jefferson Hour shows discussing Jefferson’s feelings about the holiday and memories of his own Christmas experiences.

You can support the show by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization under tax ID #46-5726534.

Read more on the blog.

Don't miss this week's 1776 Club episode, Looking to 2017.

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