Jennie: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, by Christopher Hitchens

When I started reading this biography I knew that Thomas Jefferson was involved in the US Revolution, but this book brought more detailed information about how deeply involved he was. We all know how he had his hand in writing many of the founding documents, but he was also very involved in penning similar documents in his home state of Virginia.

His own personal life has been a hot topic since the time his wife died. It was suspected even while he was alive that he had a relationship with one (or many) of his female slaves. Given the now-proven lineage, we know this was in fact true to some extent. More than this drama, I found the amount of tragedy that surrounded Thomas Jefferson to be the bigger story. Almost all of his children died very young and his wife died after complications from childbirth. I realize that this was very common during those days, but to have so many deaths felt more significant to me for some reason.

Each of the books I have read for the Presidential Challenge have included one element I wasn’t really aware of. For George Washington it was the issue of slavery – I had no idea it was a hotly debated topic that early in our Country’s history. For John Adams it was the level of involvement of foreign country’s when it came to the monetary needs of the newly formed US. For Thomas Jefferson it has to be the interconnectedness between the US Revolution and the French Revolution. I had no idea that many of the movers and shakers involved in the US Revolution were also involved in (or at the very least an example for) the French Revolution. This includes Thomas Jefferson himself – assisting Lafayette in writing a charter of rights to present to the King.

In line with this I also realized how involved the world’s other countries were in our revolution. Now in current times we hear about how we have become a global economy – but really it has been that way all along. Not only did we have to rely on other countries to provide us money, support and trading opportunities but that support causes strain on their own economies. For example, the text notes that as part of recuperating the money spent on the Seven Years’ War the British raised taxes on the Americans – which, in part, helped fuel the upstart of the Revolution. (pg 13) This means that since the birth of our country we have had a global economy of sorts – what wars were fought impacted those involved, and those that would have relations with those involved in the future.

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