My Favorite Founding Father

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

My favorite founding father is also the most problematical, namely: Thomas Jefferson. We know him as the Third President of the United States. What was even more interesting was how he saw himself, based on the epitaph he had composed for himself:

HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON, AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.

Note that he doesn’t make any mention of the four years he served as Vice President to John Adams, let alone the two terms as President. The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom is interesting, because it removes its author from consideration by religious fundamentalists as a kindred spirit. Jefferson was a Deist, not really a practicing Christian in the religious sense.

And the University of Virginia? The Charlottesville campus was indeed Jefferson’s creation, in terms of its architecture, administration policy, and faculty staffing.

Why did Jefferson not consider his presidency one of this chief accomplishments? For one thing, he was basically a shy person who did not like the whole give and take 0of politics. During the eight years of his Presidency, he gave only two speeches, and they were written by him for his two inaugurations. Not a good speaker, he was, however, a wizard writer, and his Declaration of Independence was indeed a work that will live forever. (Until Trump decides to repeal it.)

I have just finished reading Joseph J. Ellis’s American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2001). A winner of the National Book Award, Ellis’s book examines Jefferson’s tendency to balance contradictory ideas on such issues as slavery (he was against it, yet he owned slaves without emancipating them), states’ rights, the Federal Government, and the Supreme Court.

 

Why the Tax Deadline Is Next Monday

Talk About the Tail Wagging the Dog!

Talk About the Tail Wagging the Dog!

You may wonder why your taxes are due on April 18 instead of April 15 this year—even though April 15 falls on a Friday. You can blame it on (or otherwise, if you’re so inclined) the District of Columbia, a Federal District that is free of Congressional representation. (So lucky!)

They have a holiday each April 16 that commemorates President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. It is actually an international holiday and, in my opinion, probably better than most holidays. I mean, who gives a cracker about Columbus Day? The man didn’t discover America: the Icelander Leif Ericsson did. And both Memorial Day and Labor Day are a bit sketchy; but I am wholeheartedly for Emancipation Day. The freeing of the slaves is one of the few good things that have happened in world history during the last two centuries.

Because April 16 is on a Saturday this year, it is observed on Friday, April 15, where it is a widely observed public holiday. Consequently, taxes are not due until Monday, April 18. Due to this little quirk, together with an additional day for Leap Year, tax season is four days longer this year.