Our Third President – Did You Know?

Note: all of the following is based on or taken from “Thomas Jefferson – The Art of Power,” Jon Meacham, 2012, Random House (Pulitzer Prize Winner).

You know the third president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson, but did you know:

That he was elected president by the House of Representatives on the thirty-sixth vote?

That the House consisted of sixteen delegates (nine votes needed to win), and chose the president because Jefferson and Aaron Burr finished with the same number of electoral votes?

That Jefferson was a Republican even though he would have been a Democrat today, and that the other party was called Federalist even though they became today’s Republicans?

That the Republicans, who became Democrats, wanted no part of any monarchy, and that many of the Federalists wanted to reinstall the King of England?

That the first rumblings of secession were from Federalists in the northern states (former colonies)?  And that those first rumblings of secession from up north were in evidence several times during the early 1800’s?

Pages 96-97:  That Jefferson was requested by Congress to serve on a committee “…to Ascertain Unfinished Business Before Congress….” and in his 1775 draft report he wrote that “…gathering intelligence of the condition and design of the enemy….” was “crucial”?

Page 130: That “Like many legislators, Jefferson was ambivalent about executive power until he bore executive responsibility.”

Page 404: That Aaron Burr, who was Jefferson’s Vice President during his first term, shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel and later advised the British Foreign Minister that he (Burr) wanted to “effect a separation of the western part of the United States from that which lies between the Atlantic and the mountains….”?

Page 406: That Jefferson believed in a limited government, except when he thought the nation was best served by a more expansive one”?

Page 417:  That Jefferson was the first president to recommend federal funding for public works: “…education, roads, canals, and other projects”?

If books such as these were used when I studied American History I would have enjoyed those classes much more.

I close with two quotes:

Page 416: “It was easy to speak theoretically and idealistically about politics when one is seeking power.  The demands of exercising power once it is won, however, are so complex and fluid that ideological certitude is often among the first casualties of actual governing.”  Thomas Jefferson

And finally, a well-known quote from President Kennedy at a White House dinner honoring Nobel Prize Winners in 1962:

“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”


One thought on “Our Third President – Did You Know?

  1. Einar –
    I was so taken by the excerpts you sent along from the new book on our third President, that I forwarded copies to a couple of my (and your former) tennis mates. Rayburn Metcalfe


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