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Thomas Jefferson's Birthday

1:22 PM, Apr 13, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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From a talk TWS contributor Geoffrey Norman gave a couple years ago, in which he explained Thomas Jefferson, the Southerner, to a room full of Vermonters:

I’ve been asked to stand up here and explain Thomas Jefferson, a Virginian, to a room full of Vermonters.  And having presented my credentials, it’s probably time to get on with it.

We celebrate Jefferson and his birthday not so much because he was a great president … which he was.  Anyone with the wit to buy half a continent from the French for a few million and get New Orleans in the deal is manifestly a great president.  But Jefferson’s greatness goes beyond his accomplishments in the many offices he held … beyond the example of his industry and learning which were prodigious. ...

He was, arguably, the purest embodiment of a type, sadly gone … the  enlightenment polymath, interested and learned in everything.  Curious, literate, educated.  For Jefferson, there was much more to life than politics or even political philosophy where the answers to the biggest question had, after all, been settled as self-evident. 

We could spend all night talking about the pursuits of Jefferson; of the things that captured and held his interest.  After I was invited to give this address, I spent some time researching the subject.  One of the more charming items I came across was that Thomas Jefferson introduced the waffle iron to America.  

Where would the Republic be today without the waffle iron?  The imagination trembles.  

Whole speech here.

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