Jefferson’s Most Unlikely Advocate
I regained awareness with the sharp and distinct neck-pain familiar to anyone who has nearly fallen asleep while sitting up. As I checked around to see if Mr. McManus or any of my fellow students had noticed my lapse, I realized that the class was otherwise engaged in heated debate concerning the question of Thomas Jefferson’s character in regards to hypocrisy. Just days ago, I had passionately committed my own position to paper for McManus, convicting Jefferson on the duality of his position regarding slavery. As the stinging in my neck gradually subsided, my subconscious allowed to the surface of my mind a sort of dream sequence or thought process which to this day haunts shapes my considerations of Jefferson’s worth.
When called on to present my own case I was dumbstruck. How could I possibly represent Jefferson as worthy of heaven without simultaneously condemning myself as a hypocrite of equal measure? Perhaps it was Satan’s arrogance that prevented him from objecting as I implored God for a brief recess so that I might compose an argument which might justify His including me in theseproceedings. Perhaps it was characteristic justice having appointed me this task Himself, or perhaps it was simply His nature to allow this small measure of grace, but either way a short delay was granted by The Almighty that I might prepare.
Once permission was granted, I was escorted by Saint Peter to separate quarters very like a small study where he suggested I begin my preparations at once. Peter explained that I would be allowed two hours to prepare a legal brief. At my disposal for this purpose were a copy of American Sphinx, by Joseph J. Ellis, a personal computer equipped with internet access, and a Bible. As Peter left, he pointed to a portable CD player and with a sly wink suggested that if I worked best while listening to music, this too was here for my benefit.
... Va. on the thirteenth of April in 1743. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a wealthy land owner, but not really high up. ... Penguin Books, 2001. Crow, Peter, The US history, Oxford University Press, 2001. Donahue, Joseph, The life of Thomas Jefferson, Harvard University Press, ...
In desperation I turned to the internet, reluctantly typing a Google search, “The Legacy of Thomas Jefferson”into the computer supplied by Saint Peter. I was overwhelmed and dismayed as 769,000 results to my search were now at my disposal with only thirty minutes left. I obviously had time to read only a few.
With only minutes left before my presentation I inspected a site that displayed a 2004 article on Jefferson by Time Magazinein which a number of scholars were contacted about Thomas Jefferson and his legacy. The Time article quotes Jan Lewis, Professor of History at Rugers University as saying of Jefferson, “His complete, uncompromising, and abiding commitment to the principle of human equality is what I admire most.” Lewis goes on crediting Jefferson as, “ a magnificent stylist… able to bring it to life by expressing it clearly, simply, eloquently. And he connected equality to other ideas that remain equally compelling: liberty, self-government, freedom of religion.” (Time)
There came a sudden knock on the door and I knew my time had run out. Hurriedly, I read on as within the same Time Magazine article, Clarence E. Walker, Professor of History at the University of California eloquently stated that, “The most impressive thing about Jefferson was the Declaration of Independence, that is, its language. The language of the Declaration and the Constitution provided the intellectual framework for black people to stake a claim on American citizenship.” (Time)
In the blink of an eye, the music stopped, the computer disappeared, the walls of my private study dissolved before my eyes and I was once again in the presence of Divinity in the heavenly court. Aware that I had squandered my time and failed to prepare a legal brief as commanded, I began to weep. Between sobs I began to murmur apologies for my obvious inadequacy as an advocate and personal judgment of the Jefferson’s shortcomings. As if under a microscope I became keenly aware of the hypocrisies in my own life. Who was I to judge? I could no longer even speak. No one could understand me anyway.
According to the back cover, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is “considered one of ‘The Hundred Most Influential Books Since the Second World War’ by The Times Literary Supplement. ” I don’t necessarily agree with this assessment. Don’t miss understand what I’m saying; he is probably one of the more brilliant people that have ever walked this earth for all I know. ...
I forgot entirely where I was and why I was there. Against the backdrop of my own humility I began to consider the true weight of Jefferson’s legacy. His life seemed so small in comparison to the eventual outcome of his vision and idealic writings. Regardless of his faults, men had been inspired by his writings to changethe world for the better. The nation he had helped found had found eventually gained the strength to fight for his ideals on a global stage and have inspired countless oppressed to dream asfree men. Over time and distance, such men have found in his words the strength to answer the call to rebel against tyranny and religious persecution in nationsfar from his own. Jefferson had in fact, through the legacy of his writings, done immeasurable good for those Jesus spoke of in the 25th chapter of Matthew, yet I in my own worthlessness I knew could do nothing to justify his eternal reward.
I regained awareness with the sharp and distinct neck-pain familiar to anyone who has nearly fallen asleep while sitting up.
Joseph J. Ellis. _American Spinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson_. 1st Vintage Edition. New York: Vintage Books, a division of Random House, 1998.
Forum: Thomas Jefferson. Time Magazine. 27 June 2004. http://www.time.com/time/covers/1101040705/tjforum.html
The Holy Bible, New International Version. Grand Rapids. Zondervan Publishing. 2005.