Requests for Information related to Thomas Jefferson



> I have to write an  essay on the enigmas of Thomas Jefferson for my AP
> american history class. I don't know where to start. please help me. thank
> you.
> sincerely,
> christine r.

The "enigmas of Thomas Jefferson" are necessarily the things about Thomas
Jefferson that we today cannot make sense of.  The real question is, Is
this because there is something wrong with Thomas Jefferson, or is it
because there is something wrong with our perception of him?  In other
words, perhaps WE just don't understand.

What you have to do is first identify those things that are considered
enigmatic, such as his being such a strong proponent for human rights
while being at the same time a slave owner.  Well, maybe there were
reasons for his being a slave owner that he couldn't avoid.  Maybe he was
trapped into it just like everyone else of that time.  Maybe he did
everything he could to solve the problem.  Maybe his enormous debts
prevented him from freeing his own slaves.  We today can look back with
20/20 hindsight and see things one way, but maybe things were not so
simple in that time.  We should endeavor to understand things from the
position of people living at that time, not merely sit in judgment on him
based on our own perceptions today.

Another enigma might be his supposed affair with Sally Hemings.  Well,
maybe it never happened!  That alone would solve that enigma.

Jefferson was a brilliant man, perhaps one of the most brilliant persons
of the last few hundred years.  What we see as enigmas were in all
likelihood not enigmas to him.  The problem is more likely with OUR
perception, not with Jefferson.

I'm sorry I can't help more than that.  Personally, I do not see
Jefferson as an enigma, but as a brilliant source for understanding the
founding principles of American self-govenment.  It is our misperceptions
and lack of comprehension today that makes Jefferson seem an enigma.  It
is we who need to get our heads on straight, in other words, and then
maybe Jefferson won't seem such an enigma.  Compared to the writigs of
Thomas Jefferson, Americans today do not understand the principles of
their own government, the principles upon which this nation was founded.
 That, in my opinion, is the source of much of the so-called "enigma."

If you will check my website, especially the page with miscellaneous
notes on Jefferson:
        The Jeffersonian Perspective
you might find some things that may be of help to you.

Good luck,

Eyler Coates


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