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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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Now displaying: 2018
Oct 17, 2018

On October 30th, we're going to have Bob Drury and Tom Clavin on the show. They're the authors of a new book, Valley Forge, which will be our next book club selection.

Clay urges every Jefferson Hour listener to get this book and to send us questions and thoughts about it: things that you discovered that you didn't know, or things that puzzled you, or things you'd like us to examine in this book. We want you to participate by sending us your thoughts and maybe quotations that you find interesting, or things that you're intrigued about, or maybe things you disagree with.

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.

Aug 10, 2018

"I would have been able to produce an account of that tour — and I mean no self-aggrandizement in saying this, but just from the sheer discipline of writing every day at great length — would have been one of the classics of the literature of exploration."

— 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 7, 2018

"You have to wait 14 years under the naturalization law before you can become a full citizen of the United States. These were palpable violations of the Bill of Rights."

— Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson

We spend this week, as requested, responding to submitted questions and correcting some factual errors pointed out by our listeners.

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.

Jul 31, 2018

"Voltaire at the end of Candide says, just go home and cultivate your garden."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

This week, we catch up on our mail bag and also speak with a couple of Thomas Jefferson Hour listeners.

We're kind of all over the place on this episode, but we had great fun: Paul McCartney, a documentary on John McCain, audio listener responses to this program — particularly with respect to music, and a man who drove from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Bismarck, a distance of six hours, just to say hello. We included part of that greeting in the show, along with conversations from our listeners about whether television is toxic, or whether it's just another neutral medium.

Then we introduce you to a special new friend of the show, Carol, the music teacher from Valley City. She's 83 years old, in a care facility for the moment because of a hip. Carol is a listener of the Thomas Jefferson Hour, and she said that she tells her students, "When you stop learning, you're done." Kudos to Carol.

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.

Jul 29, 2018

"The duty of the President of the United States is to be the principal articulator of America's values."

— 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.

Jul 24, 2018

"When you die, your legacy is the effect you've had on people, and boy did my mother have an effect on people."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

Clay Jenkinson speaks this week about the death of his mother, Mil, and discusses Jefferson’s thoughts and correspondence about death.

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.

Jul 20, 2018

"I made a special devotion to collecting all of the maps that I could."

— 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.

Jul 17, 2018

"Too Né's data wound up in the journals and all of it is on the map, and the map deepens the journals, and the journals deepen the map."

— Clay S. Jenkinson

This week on the Thomas Jefferson Hour, we feature an extended conversation about the recently discovered map from the Lewis and Clark Expedition drawn by an Indigenous guide named Too Né. The map was found in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and it's the subject of an entire issue of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s journal, We Proceeded On.

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.

Jul 13, 2018

"It is not a great privilege to name a Supreme Court justice."

— Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson

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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