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Notable Comments on Jefferson - 21st Century

2007 July 4. (Sam Waterston). "'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.' The words are so familiar, so potent, so important, so grand and fine, it's hard to believe that a person, any single person, actually wrote them, picked up a pen, dipped it in ink, and, on a blank white sheet, made appear for the first time what had never before existed in the whole history of the world. By scratching away at the page, he called a country into being, knowing as he wrote that the country was no more than an idea, and the idea might, at any instant, be erased and destroyed, and the United States of America become just another sorry footnote in the history of suppressed rebellions against tyranny.... And went on writing. You can't help but be impressed by all that that one person, and the small group of individuals around him, not much larger than your group of new citizens, won for so many."[1]

2008 July 4 (George W. Bush) "The principles that Thomas Jefferson enshrined in the Declaration became the guiding principles of the new nation. And at every generation, Americans have rededicated themselves to the belief that all men are created equal, with the God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson understood that these rights do not belong to Americans alone. They belong to all mankind." President Bush Attends Monticello's 46th Annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony. Full text available online.

2009 June 25 (Maira Kalman). "If you want to understand this country and its people and what it means to be optimistic and complex and tragic and wrong and courageous, you need to go to [Jefferson’s] home in Virginia. Monticello.” – Maira Kalman, “Time Wastes Too Fast,” New York Times, June 25, 2009

2014 February 10 (Barack Obama). "As one of our Founding Fathers, the person who drafted our Declaration of Independence, somebody who not only was an extraordinary political leader but also one of our great scientific and cultural leaders, Thomas Jefferson represents what’s best in America." - Remarks by President Obama and President Hollande of France after Touring Monticello. Full text available online

2014 February 10 (François Hollande). "Together, Lafayette and Jefferson imagined something that seemed impossible -- mainly American independence and the rights of -- human rights and the rights of the citizen.  Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, and Lafayette was also involved in drafting the Rights of the Citizen, and they met together in this house." Full text available online

Footnotes

  1. Sam Waterston, (speech, Monticello, Charlottesville, Va., July 4, 2007). Full text available online.

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Discussion

says

Hopefully, there will be a lot more of these quotes about Jefferson as the century wears on. The speech by Sam Waterston was wonderful.

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