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.
– Extract from John F. Kennedy’s Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Nobel Prize Winners of the Western Hemisphere.
In my AP United States History class, we are currently learning about how the founding fathers came together to forge our great nation that is the United States of America. Among those founding fathers, I have to say I found Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin the most intriguing, Jefferson slightly more-so than Franklin. Thomas Jefferson was perhaps one of, if not the most brilliant polymath of his time. Not only was he a prolific author, lawyer, and politician, but he was a scientist, an architect, a philosopher, and so much more.
Thomas Jefferson started his rise to prominence when he wrote a small document. You might know it as, oh…The Declaration of Independence! Shortly afterwards he became the United States’s ambassador to France, the only reason he could not be present to sign the new Constitution. He was also the third president and although he called himself a republican, his ideals are the foundation of today’s democratic party. But this is all common knowledge.
Many people do not truly know what Jefferson truly was – an innovator. On my trip to Washington D.C., I managed to visit his estate, Monticello, the university he created, University of Virginia, and the Jefferson Memorial. He has one of the largest private book collections of the time. Despite donating half of his library at his death, the selection still left when I visited was astounding. He personally designed and built his come, continuously redesigning it as the times changed, similar to how he interpreted the Constitution during his administration – a living, breathing document.
His office was in he room and from it one could tell he was well versed in all the sciences: biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy! Of course these are just a few of his many achievements, but they are already redeeming enough. Can you imagine that there were seven founding fathers all in the league of this guy, though in different fields? Washington in military, Hamilton in economics? I wonder what they would think if they could see what is happening in the current presidential election…