Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday

We all remember Thomas Jefferson as the author of the Declaration of Independence and as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.  Although he professed not to be much of a public speaker, he was a very eloquent writer and the Declaration remains one of the Nation’s most cherished symbols of Liberty.
As our third President, Jefferson is also remembered for the Louisiana Purchase that doubled the size of the United States.    
Jefferson was born on April 2nd in 1743.   Don’t be troubled if your calendar says he was born on April 13th instead.  Both dates are accurate.  One is taken from the Julian calendar (O.S.) that adjusted the beginning of the year to January 1st and the other is taken from the Gregorian calendar (N.S.).   Some countries did not make the  switch to the Julian calendar until 1752, after Jefferson was born.
Jefferson’s home was located on a large plantation in Virginia.  Jefferson designed its most striking feature, the dome, after having traveled in Europe and seeing classical architecture.  Have you always wanted to visit Monticello but still haven’t been able to get there?  Take this interesting 3-D tour of the entire plantation!  http://explorer.monticello.org/
West Point
And did you know that in 1802, with the consent of Congress, Jefferson authorized the construction of the US Military Academy at West Point in NY?  It was the Military Peace Establishment Act that directed that a corp of engineers be established.  That Act was established to provide well-trained officers for a professional army.  It was on July 4th in 1802 that the US Military Academy formally began as an institution for scientific and military learning.  Coincidentally,  it was also on a July 4th (in 1826) that Jefferson died at the age of 83.  It was the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Fun Fact:
There has been a persistent, although spurious, rumor that Thos. Jefferson grew marijuana.  He did not.  But he did grown an industrial type of hemp that was used for rope and clothing.  It apparently contains very little of the chemical that makes some do the happy dance.   No, our third President did not smoke the wacky weed!

Thomas Jefferson left us a famous quote – taken from a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette in 1815:
“The cement of this Union [the United States of America] is in the heart-blood of every American.  I do not believe there is on earth a government established on so immovable a basis”.

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