The Jeffersonian Perspective

Commentary on Today's Social and Political Issues
Based on the Writings of Thomas Jefferson


Brief Notes on Jeffersonian Topics

For an Oral Presentation on Jefferson

Background on Jefferson's life and/or involvement in the political situation during the Revolutionary period.

There is a 12 page chronology of his entire life on pg.1519 of the book "Thomas Jefferson: Writings" (Library of America. Should be available in just about any library.) The first few pages will tell you of his involvement in the political situation during the Revolutionary period. Note that he was probably chosen to write the Declaration because he had previously done so well on "A Summary View of the Rights of British America."

Jefferson was the mentor of James Madison, who was the Father of the Constitution and the 4th President of the US.

Discussion of the salient points of the literature he has written (mainly the Declaration of Independence).

Review the Declaration of Independence on page 19 of the Library of America volume of his writings. There is also a copy of Jefferson's final draft, together with the changes made by Congress, at the following online location:

The Declaration of Independence

Notice that the first part of the Declaration defines the foundation upon which rightful government is built. Then beginning with the bottom of pg. 19 in the print edition, he lists the "injuries & usurpations." Be careful, because this is Jefferson's ORIGINAL final draft version. Congress made many changes, and cut out entirely the part that condemned the slave trade on page 22.

Another important piece of literature Jefferson wrote was the "Notes on the State of Virginia." This is on pg. 123 of the Writings volume. It goes into enormous detail about every facet of Virginia. It is a rather lengthy book, and is available online at the following location:

Yale's Jefferson Papers Page

Jefferson did not have very many works published. Most of his ideas on politics and government were contained in his many letters (somewhere around 20,000) and his Inaugural addresses and Annual Messages to Congress and other miscellaneous writings. He engaged in correspondence with many of the great scientists, economists, and statesmen of his day.

Creative presentation that displays awareness of the author's personality and viewpoint and captures the audience's attention.

Jefferson was a genius in a number of different fields. He was well educated, and fluent in many languages, including Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish and French. A good encyclopedia will summarize his many accomplishments for you. You can use the famous quip of J.F. Kennedy:

  It was a gathering of Nobel Prize winners, and JFK said: "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."

You can use some of the material on the front page of the site Inalienable Rights, and make selections from there to give an overview of his viewpoint on human rights. That section has some of his most powerful statements on human rights.

I would suggest that you end up with the last two quotes at the end of Section 49 of my website, The Future of Democracy in America. That sums up his faith in America and in the progress of the struggle for human rights. I also find them very stirring comments.

Remember: both he and John Adams died on the same day: July 4, 1826-- Exactly 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.


The Jeffersonian Perspective: Table of Contents | Front Page
Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government: Front Page | Table of Contents

© 1999 by Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.