Thomas Jefferson is considered America’s greatest political Philosopher in the cause of liberty. History scholars, whether they agree with his politics or not, have to agree he was a genius in the discipline of developing government frameworks that protected liberty by harnessing human nature and the propensity of individuals to use government to acquire power. His life was spent studying, defining, determining, and protecting liberty for the America he helped found and loved.
He was a prolific writer and his library contained volumes of books that he read on subjects ranging from farming to the history of the Roman Empire. He used history to support his ideas on liberty, and always argued for limited government based on his knowledge of how government was an avenue to tyranny; always. He also wrote about the other founders and his impression and experience in their joint efforts creating our republic.
On Sam Adams he believed that there was no greater patriot in the cause of freedom and respected Sam Adam’s opinions on many of the difficult issues of the time. Sam Adams was a devout Christian and was driven to freedom mostly due to his belief and defense of religious freedom. Jefferson was very private in his own religion, but respected men like Sam Adams because he knew a free society could only be maintained by a moral society.
On John Adams he respected his ability to argue but knew J Adams had no understanding of human nature and its impact on forming a government. They were often at odds and were seen as rivals but had a mutual respect for the differences of opinion and shared a lifelong relationship that Jefferson treasured and wrote about throughout his life. Their common cause was liberty and forming a “rational republic” form of government.
On Alexander Hamilton he believed and rightfully so, that he would have been content with the British form of government in America, and his true goal of independence was that he should be one of the elite class, not the Englishman sitting thousands of miles away. Hamilton did not believe that government was best ruled by the “common” citizen, and often disagreed with Jefferson on this point. They were rivals in the administration of George Washington, and Jefferson vehemently disagreed with the creation of a central bank not overseen by congress. Jefferson believed Hamilton was content on “force and corruption” in his management of government.
Jefferson never swayed from his belief in self rule and the people’s ability to get most issues right when given the proper information. He knew religion was key for a moral society but a society could not be lead by a religious doctrine. Jefferson knew that a representative republic was the best way to harness tyranny and befriended the leaders that held that belief even though they had limited understanding of the power of human nature. And finally, Jefferson knew that Hamilton was the embodiment of the forces that would need to be harnessed if liberty were to survive. Hamilton’s financial prowess and genius was a skill needed in the first years of the republic due to the accumulated debt of the revolution. But Jefferson often challenged Hamilton’s propensity toward an elite structure of government.
The lessons of Jefferson today are too numerous to state here, but his simple ability to determine the importance of many diverse opinions and skill sets, and direct them for the common good are sorely missing today. Leadership in government is a balance of determining the proper role of government, the emotional nature of the citizens it serves, and never compromising the foundation that makes it all worth the effort; Liberty. We can learn all we need to know about turning our country and its economy around by understanding our history. We can turn our future around by understanding Jefferson and his devotion to liberty…