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The Thomas Jefferson Hour

The Thomas Jefferson Hour features conversations with Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, as portrayed by the award-winning humanities scholar and author, Clay Jenkinson. The weekly discussion features Mr. Jefferson’s views on events of his time, contemporary issues facing America and answers to questions submitted by his many listeners. To ask President Jefferson a question, visit our website at jeffersonhour.com

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#1228 Budgets

"Jefferson regarded the national debt as a national disgrace." This week, President Jefferson (as portrayed by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson) explains his reasoning behind his federal budget and why he felt it was essential to pay down the national debt that he inherited. We also learn about some of the people who helped Jefferson develop the budget, including Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin. Jefferson dedicated his administration to reducing the national debt as severely as possible. As always, there are parallels between Jefferson's time and ours. He wanted to cut taxes and the size of the federal government, but he also wanted to cut the size of the Army and Navy; you don't hear that kind of talk much in our time. In this case, Jefferson was an idealogue about fiscal responsibility. Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Read Clay's Jefferson Watch essay, "The Most Jeffersonian Thing in America". Clay will be performing as Thomas Jefferson at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, VA on April 19th. Find more info and buy tickets here. Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

55mins

4 Apr 2017

Rank #1

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#1230 Judgment

"The constitution ... is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist, and shape into any form they please." — Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1819 Thomas Jefferson had a unique and slightly odd view of the proper place of the judicial branch in America. He thought of judicial independence as both a strength and a weakness of our system: you want judges that are independent of popular factionalism but you want them to be accountable to the sovereign, to the American people. Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson, discusses his concept of judicial balance, his lifelong displeasure with the Supreme Court, and some of the changes that he thinks should be made. He said of life-tenured judges, 'Few die and none resign.' Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Read Clay's Jefferson Watch essay, "Good News for America". Clay will be performing as Thomas Jefferson at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, VA on April 19th. Find more info and buy tickets here. Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net.

58mins

18 Apr 2017

Rank #2

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#1316 James Madison (Part Two)

"to the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression." — James Madison We discuss James Madison again this week, President Jefferson's good friend and ally. Madison was the de facto father of the American Constitution. We look at his preparation, his advocacy of the Virginia Plan, and his work to try to ratify this somewhat imperfect instrument. We talked a great deal with President Jefferson about the Constitutional Convention. Jefferson wasn't there, but Madison kept him apprised of progress. Madison wanted a more centralized national government than Jefferson was comfortable with. Jefferson believed in the 10th amendment: that powers not delegated to the national government belong to the states, which is something that haunts us to this day because of its vagueness. The question is, what is America? Is it a compact of sovereign states? Or is it as a nation state whose constitution begins with the words, "We the People"? Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

58mins

11 Dec 2018

Rank #3

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Show 1210 Optimistic Revolution

This week, special guest host Joe Lovell of Amarillo, Texas returns to speak with President Thomas Jefferson about revolution, public education and the need for true leadership. You can support the show by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc., a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization under tax ID #46-5726534. We're giving away three signed copies of Becoming Jefferson's People! Each hardback book will come bundled with a three-CD audiobook version, read by Clay S. Jenkinson. All new & current members of the 1776 Club will be entered to win. Become a member by December 13th to have your name included in the drawing. Read more on the blog.

1hr 8mins

2 Dec 2016

Rank #4

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#1216 Secretary of State (Part One)

This week, we return with the 14th installment of the “Jefferson 101” series. The program is the first of two shows discussing Jefferson’s time as the first Secretary of State. It begins with the story of Jefferson’s return from Europe and the effect his time in France had on his own political sentiments. Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog.

58mins

13 Jan 2017

Rank #5

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#1241 4th of July

We speak with President Jefferson this week in our annual 4th of July Show. Jefferson shares his thoughts on why the holiday is so important to Americans and recalls how it was celebrated during his time. We also speak to Gaye Wilson, the Shannon Senior Historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies and Pat Brodowski, specialty gardener at Monticello who tell us about the celebrations being held at Monticello. Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

57mins

3 Jul 2017

Rank #6

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Show 1203 Franklin’s Visit

In this week’s show President Jefferson (as portrayed by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson) is joined in conversation by Benjamin Franklin (as portrayed by GregRobin Smith).

59mins

14 Oct 2016

Rank #7

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#1300 Better Arguments

"Can we talk? Can we try to argue about where we are and where we're going and use the founders as a source of wisdom that might allow us to have a safe place to meet and to talk about this with civility, but with fervor?" — Joseph J. Ellis Clay and David discuss how to conduct better arguments, and also speak with author Joseph Ellis to talk about his new book American Dialogue, which will be released this fall. Professor Joseph Ellis is the author of a great number of books about the founding fathers, including some of our favorites. There's talk of violence against journalists; how can we ratchet down our national discourse rather than continue to ratchet it up? Jefferson's mantra was, 'We disagree, but if we do, we disagree as rational friends,' and Dr. Ellis is saying, disagreement is the beginning of wisdom and harmony. ind this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

57mins

21 Aug 2018

Rank #8

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#1213 Jefferson Christmas 2016

Attempting to move President Jefferson into the Christmas Spirit is always a challenge, and this year is no different. This year, we present excerpts from past Jefferson Hour shows discussing Jefferson’s feelings about the holiday and memories of his own Christmas experiences. Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

56mins

23 Dec 2016

Rank #9

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#1218 Two Parties

We speak with President Thomas Jefferson this week about the unexpected emergence of the two-party political system during his time. Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Learn more about "John Steinbeck’s California" Spring Book Retreat/Tour 2017, hosted by Odyssey Tours, a div. of Bek, Inc. For more information, visit Odyssey Tours online or contact Becky Cawley: (208) 791-8721 or bek@odytours.net

59mins

27 Jan 2017

Rank #10

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Show 1194 Jefferson 111

This week Thomas Jefferson Hour creator Clay S. Jenkinson returns to the "Jefferson 101" biographical series with the first of three shows devoted to Jefferson's time in Paris from 1784 to 1789.

1hr

12 Aug 2016

Rank #11

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#1274 The Classics

"You cannot understand the founding of this country without understanding the Founding Fathers’ obsession with classical languages and literature." — Clay S. Jenkinson Guest host Catherine Jenkinson has an extended conversation with President Jefferson about the classics, and Jefferson’s understanding and support of the classics. Find this episode on the blog, along with 15 Greek and Latin Classics recommended by Clay and Catherine. Learn about Clay's upcoming cultural tours and humanities retreats by visiting Odyssey Tours. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

59mins

20 Feb 2018

Rank #12

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#1361 Constitution in Crisis

We speak with President Jefferson about the role of government in the oversight of elected officials. He tells us that because of the times they lived in, the founding fathers had great concerns about foreign involvement and influence on our government, and accordingly provided a mechanism to protect against it: impeachment. Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about Clay's cultural tours & retreats at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Check out our new merch. You can find Clay's publications on our website, along with a list of his favorite books on Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and other topics. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

59mins

22 Oct 2019

Rank #13

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#1238 Presidential Decorum

"I never like to be rude, but sometimes one has to set the precedent for a society that will shock the world." — Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson This week, we discuss diplomacy and presidential decorum. When the British Ambassador Anthony Merry came to the White House, Jefferson went out of his way to be rude: to make it clear that the Revolution was won by us, not them. In 1792, Jefferson wrote to George Washington: "No government ought to be without censors: and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defence. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth either in religion, law, or politics." Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net. There, you can also find the Lochsa Lodge retreats: one on Walden and another on Shakespeare. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

59mins

13 Jun 2017

Rank #14

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#1221 The First 100 Days

Clay S. Jenkinson discusses Thomas Jefferson’s election as President in 1801, his first 100 days in office, and notes the sometimes-uncanny parallels with our time. Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Learn more about "John Steinbeck’s California", the Spring 2017 Tour & Retreat hosted by Odyssey Tours, a division of Bek, Inc. For more information, visit Odyssey Tours online or contact Becky Cawley: (208) 791-8721 or bek@odytours.net

58mins

17 Feb 2017

Rank #15

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#1239 Original Argument

"The question then became: Is a national bank constitutional? Did the Founding Fathers contemplate a national bank?" — Thomas Jefferson, as portrayed by Clay S. Jenkinson This week, we discuss the argument between Alexander Hamilton and Jefferson over the creation of a national bank of the United States. Hamilton believed a central banking system was essential to America's standing in the world. Jefferson disagreed, arguing that to take a single step beyond the powers of the constitution is to enter a field of boundless abuse. We speak with Jefferson about President Washington's support of Hamilton’s plan, a decision with ramifications that affect Americans to this day. Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

56mins

20 Jun 2017

Rank #16

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#1234 Jefferson's Talents

"[Thomas Jefferson] could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play a violin." — James Parton, 1874 This week, we ask President Jefferson to confirm or deny these reported talents. Find this episode, along with further recommended reading, on the blog. Learn more about Odyssey Tours and the summer 2017 Lewis & Clark adventure on odytours.net. There, you can also find the Lochsa Lodge retreats: one on Walden and another on Shakespeare. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson. 

1hr 2mins

16 May 2017

Rank #17

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#1304 To France

"This period was, in some ways, the most satisfying period of Jefferson's life, and in some ways it was the most radical." — Clay S. Jenkinson This week, as promised, and in anticipation of Clay’s upcoming cultural tour of Jefferson’s France in October 2019, we devote an entire show to discussion of Jefferson’s time as Minister to France from 1784 to 1789. Jefferson spent five of the most extraordinary years of his life in France. He fell in love with French people and French culture, but he also got to witness a second great revolution in a single lifetime: the beginnings of the French Revolution. It was one of the most formative times of Mr. Jefferson's life, and he carried what he called the little flame of liberty across the Atlantic in the summer of 1784. Jefferson was thrilled to see that the principles that we had fought for and established in our new system were now being used to change the world — that all of Europe he thought was going to follow the path of the United States. It didn't quite work out that way, but that was his optimism. Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

1hr 1min

18 Sep 2018

Rank #18

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#1303 Can We Talk?

"He saw a nation that collapsed right in front of him and he thought, 'well, I wonder why nations collapse,' and I think that really led to some great thinking." — Clay S. Jenkinson We respond to listener mail this week, including questions related to the principle of one-person one-vote, and we discuss replies to Clay’s request for some thoughtful conservative perspectives from listeners who support the Trump administration. We love questions, comments, and small essays from our listeners from all over the country — even all over the world. We take them all seriously and we try to address as many as we can. Sometimes it's easier to address them out of character, and that's this week's program. We talk about a whole range of subjects, all of them generated by our listeners who are fascinated by the connection between Jefferson's era and the current chaos, whatever it is, in our national political arena. We read a letter from our new political friend down south, Tim Clemmons, who wonders whether we are really fair about certain questions of the give and take of our Justice Department. Plus, David gets a chance to brag about his two pound tomato, an Amana Orange. Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

56mins

11 Sep 2018

Rank #19

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#1301 Farewell Address

"George Washington ... was as close to a perfect human being as we believed existed on Earth." — Clay S. Jenkinson portraying Thomas Jefferson This week, we speak with President Jefferson about George Washington's farewell address which was first published in Philadelphia's American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796, 222 years ago. Presidents leave a little note in the desk for their successor, and the public always wants to know what's in those notes. We seldom learn that, but the tradition of giving a farewell address is no longer a big part of American life. The last one was Eisenhower, but Washington set the tone in 1796. President Jefferson tells us what he thought of that tone. We know that Jefferson was aware that Madison wrote the first draft, and Hamilton the final draft, of Washington's farewell address. Mr. Jefferson was not too happy about that. He saw that Madison had recovered his senses and had now broken with the Federalists, and he hated the fact that Hamilton played a role in the great man's life. Find this episode, along with recommended reading, on the blog. Support the show by joining the 1776 Club or by donating to the Thomas Jefferson Hour, Inc. You can learn more about our Cultural Tours & Retreats with Clay S. Jenkinson at jeffersonhour.com/tours. Thomas Jefferson is interpreted by Clay S. Jenkinson.

59mins

28 Aug 2018

Rank #20