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Thomas Jefferson: Scientist, Inventor, Gadgeteer

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the celebrate-the-nation-by-blowing-up-a-small-part-of-it dept.

United States 220

Hugh Pickens writes "Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, whose signing we celebrate today, was considered an expert in architecture, civil engineering, geography, mathematics, ethnology, anthropology, mechanics, and the sciences. Although Jefferson never failed to acknowledge that in science he was 'an amateur,' Jefferson's home at Monticello was filled with examples of his scientific philosophy. An inventor and gadgeteer of great ingenuity, Jefferson's practical innovations or improvements on others inventions included: the swivel chair, the polygraph, letter press, hemp break. pedometer, mouldboard plow, sulky, folding chair, dumb-waiter, double acting doors, and a seven day clock. Throughout his life Jefferson experimented in agriculture with studies in crop rotation, soil cultivation, animal breeding, pest control, agricultural implements and improvement of seeds. Jefferson promoted science as President by recommending to Congress a coast survey to accurately chart the coast of America that later evolved into the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. Jefferson's expert testimony before Congress led to the establishment of the Naval Observatory and the Hydrographic Office and Jefferson's report to Congress on a plan of coinage and weights and measures based on the decimal system was expanded into the National Bureau of Standards. Jefferson never applied for a patent, which was consistent in his belief in the natural right of all mankind to share useful improvements without restraint."

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220 comments

Swivel Chairs (5, Funny)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#40540417)

Now I know who to blame for my dizziness. Damn you and your fun contraptions!

Re:Swivel Chairs (5, Funny)

piripiri (1476949) | about 2 years ago | (#40540441)

Fortunately he also invented the hemp break, so relax!

Re:Swivel Chairs (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#40540615)

And the, uh... "sulky", and today, I sulk with patriotic fervor.

Re:Swivel Chairs (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40541079)

A sulky appears to be a kind of lightweight carriage. Jefferson probably used it to go driving with the single ladies (put a ring on it). Just kidding. ;-) Thom was a very shy person who barely spoke.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5f/Sulky_racing_Vincennes_DSC03735_cropped.JPG [wikimedia.org]
Dog version: http://www.ikonsuspension.com/images/customer_projects/customer-projects-dog-sulky-4-lg.jpg [ikonsuspension.com]

Yeah (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540435)

He also raped a slave (at least per current definitions). Let's not get too stupid in our idol worship here.

Re:Yeah (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540689)

How dare you? The founding fathers were perfect. Please report to the nearest american patriot association for your burning at the stake.

Re:Yeah (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#40541697)

I knew this would show sooner or later. Yeah, according to our standards, he was an ass for owning other humans even though he should have known it was wrong to do so.
Guess what? Three hundred years from now you might be remembered as an ass who actually drove around in a big thing which continuously generated carbon dioxide even though you should have known it was wrong to do so.

Re:Yeah (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40541861)

Jefferson DID know slavery was wrong and made many public statements to that effect and attempted on several occasions to end it in America or in Virginia. But his reputation is forever tarnished because he did not free his own slaves whom he knew to be wrongly held in bondage.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542019)

It's notable that Jefferson's attempts to 'end slavery' came hand in hand with his proposals of mass expulsions of blacks from the US.

Jefferson had it right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542251)

Too bad it didn't happen. It'd have stopped trouble they cause nowadays (gangsta wannabe crap those punks do).

Re:Yeah (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 years ago | (#40542105)

Uhm, yeah, the realization that slaves weren't in for a better time of it, being free and on their own must've set in at some point, just like it is for you, right now. Then all his other activities regarding slavery, make more sense now. uhm hmm.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541955)

He put his penis in a woman who did not have the legal right to consent or not. He abused his position of power as a slaveowner (which is another issue altogether) to have sex with a slave. In no case did this woman have any legal protection to object. You can argue whether she loved him or not. That is unknown. Would she still have had sex with him if he didn't own her and she had full citizenship rights?

In any case, he is clearly a rapist. These morals should have been evident even centuries ago.

In 300 years abortion seen worse than slavery. (4, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | about 2 years ago | (#40542067)

In 300 years fertility will be like a light switch. Turn it on and off as needed. People will look back at abortion as an unbelievable horror because they won't be able to understand the concept of an unwanted pregnancy.

It isn't like slavery was invented in the US. People were held in slavery since the beginning of time and still are in certain parts of the world. Heck even the 13th amendment allows it as a punishment.

Re:Yeah (1)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | about 2 years ago | (#40541839)

He fathered children from a slavewoman. There is no evidence that he treated her any different than family.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Hemings [wikipedia.org]

He was also opposed to slavery, but did not think the south could handle integration and continued to own slaves.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541941)

It's rather hilarious to declare Jefferson opposed to slavery apart from the technical difficulties of integration in the south, when those arguments apply not at all to his personal conduct.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541873)

> He also raped a slave (at least per current definitions).

Good thing you were there and can now inform us it was not love. Congrats on the time machine.

> Let's not get too stupid in our idol worship here.

The current definition of rape is what is stupid (see Assange case), not the worshipping of Jefferson. Besides, have you seen the recent Presidents? One wonders if idolizing TJ isn't the proper approach...

DISCLAIMER: Personal opinion; not a US citizen; big admirer of Thomas Jefferson.

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542085)

When a 50 year old gets it on with a 16 year old girl he is in a position of absolute power over, you don't think there's something rather odd about that?

Re:Yeah (4, Insightful)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 years ago | (#40542095)

There is no evidence Jefferson ever raped a slave.
There is much more evidence that in an age of slave maltreatment and subhuman living conditions, Thom treated those in his care with the kindness that he would hirelings. More so, in fact. The slaves quarters, nicely designed along with Monticello, were engineered as nicely as a working mans house could be expected to be. His Mistress/slave had her own "apartment" and bore him a child that he cared to send to college. His "slaves" were taught skills not often relegated to slaves or indentured servants . From fine furniture making to advanced agriculture from mechanics to various sundry other crafts, Thoms knowledge poured into them. Remember, this was a man so impressed with Jesus Christ's character, that he edited down the bible to only include Christ's input so that his life could be seen as a whole for philosophical reasons. Google " Jefferson Bible". We can conclude only that Jefferson liked the Negro ladies and cared enough about Negroes to treat them as well as everyman. The kindness in this, you will note , is that his "slaves" didn't have to put up with the inhuman bullshit their fellow slaves did at other owners hands. Turning a slave loose back then was no panacea. The slave had to be ready to operate in a white world and have almost independent means. I commend Jefferson as a humanitarian activist and refute the general disinformation spread by opportunists victimizing the gullible. Liars have to cover up and hide, the truth can walk around naked all day.

moron editors (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540443)

where the fuck is the higgs boson news, you moron editors?

Don't see you putting one up. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540479)

Articles are user submitted. Why don't you go a write a blurb and a good one. No one will RTFM anyway.

Re:moron editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540533)

News: Scientists spend $10,000,000,000 to find something which is everywhere.

Re:moron editors (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40540629)

Actually it doesn't exist anymore. it was only around in the first second of the universe. It decayed into the other subatomic particles like quarks and photons. That is why they had to build a 10Bn$ machine to recreate conditions just after the big bang. Didn't you read anything on the LHC in the last 5yrs?

Re:moron editors (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541685)

Actually it doesn't exist anymore. it was only around in the first second of the universe. It decayed into the other subatomic particles like quarks and photons. That is why they had to build a 10Bn$ machine to recreate conditions just after the big bang. Didn't you read anything on the LHC in the last 5yrs?

The Higgs bosun is an elementary particle in the standard model. It can't decay into anything, and it can't transmute into another elementary particle, like a quark or photon.

Re:moron editors (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40540651)

There are also news articles all over the place...on other sites. If you always get your science news from /. you will always be a few seconds behind everyone else. I had the luxury of watching it live and it was great. I even put a video of the last 2min on my youtube channel :D

Re:moron editors (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40541435)

where the fuck is the higgs boson news, you moron editors?

I got your higgs boson right here.

Re:moron editors (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 2 years ago | (#40541519)

Not sure if alluding to your penis as being the size of a sub-atomic particle is REALLY the way to go on this.

Slave owner ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540465)

Yeah... really awesome human being.

Re:Slave owner ? (1)

MisterSquid (231834) | about 2 years ago | (#40541269)

Not to detract from Jefferson's accomplishments which were many and various, but Monticello and the grounds of the University of Virginia were built with the hands of slaves.

This wouldn't even be a problem except TFS notes Jefferson was "an expert in [. . .] ethnology, anthropology" among other disciplines. Jefferson

Jefferson's post-Enlightenment views regarding blacks and slavery rules out any claims he was an "expert" in the human sciences, especially ethnology and anthropology. Sort of like calling Johann Joachim Becher [wikipedia.org] an expert in fluid dynamics and pyrology.

Re:Slave owner ? (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40541507)

Jefferson's post-Enlightenment views regarding blacks and slavery rules out any claims he was an "expert" in the human sciences, especially ethnology and anthropology.

Please elaborate. Why do his views rule out such claims? The past wasn't just the present with funny clothes. We have plenty of ideas, experiences, and insights now that people of that time didn't have. I think it's foolish to judge them on a modern basis (especially, when that basis will radically change with future generations).

And there were human sciences experts a century later who had similar beliefs to Jefferson's (for example, John Dewey). Jefferson's beliefs on ethnicity wasn't an ideological aberration that was quickly discarded, but something that stayed legitimate for a long time.

Re:Slave owner ? (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about 2 years ago | (#40541563)

You live in the context of your time. As a head of household, inheriting an estate that included slave, you were not really free (even legally in some places) to manumit your slaves.

Jefferson personally disliked the slavery, but recognized that it was an issue to hard to resolve at the time with the slave-holding states. He considered slavery an injustice, but couldn't risk dissolving the federal union to end slavery.

"But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other."

Re:Slave owner ? (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 2 years ago | (#40542229)

There's a lot of evidence that Jefferson had a long term relationship with a female slave - Sally Hemings, and fathered 6 children by her. Jefferson gave all 6 children their freedom when the came "of age".

Didn't believe in the patent system either (1)

shione (666388) | about 2 years ago | (#40540469)

Being such a influential and powerful person, it is unfortunate that as president Jefferson didn't go on to dismantle the patent system since he saw for himself that 'useful improvements should be shared without restraint".

It would have saved us all from the broken system we have today where big corps sue each other until one leaves or theres a cross licensing agreement in place to block new players from entering the market.

Jefferson's Opinion of Patents Changed (5, Informative)

drcln (98574) | about 2 years ago | (#40540673)

Jefferson's position on the granting of patents [1]changed through the years. In his article "Godfather of American Invention," Silvio Bedini notes that in 1787 Jefferson's opposition to monopoly in any form led him to oppose patents.[2] But by 1789, Jefferson's firm opposition had weakened. Writing to James Madison, Jefferson said he approved the Bill of Rights as far as it went, but would like to see the addition of an article specifying that "Monopolies may be allowed to person for their own productions in literature, and their own inventions in the arts, for a term not exceeding --- years, but for no longer term and for no other purpose."[3] Also in 1789, while Jefferson was still in Paris, the first patent act was introduced during the first session of Congress and enacted into law April 10, 1790. Under the new law, the Secretaries of War and State and the Attorney General constituted a three-man review board, with the Secretary of State (Jefferson), playing the leading role. Two months after the law was passed, Jefferson remarked it had "given a spring to invention beyond his conception."[4]

http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/patents [monticello.org]

Thomas Jefferson was the first patent examiner and granted quite a few patents.

Re:Jefferson's Opinion of Patents Changed (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40541205)

As the president, or member of his cabinet, you are supposed to Execute the laws even if you don't like them. The exception being unconstitutional laws (as required by your oath). Since the patent law was constitutional, Jefferson did his job and obeyed the constitution. (Something recent presidents ought to learn to do.) That doesn't mean he approved of patents as shown by the fact he could have granted one to himself but never did.

Re:Jefferson's Opinion of Patents Changed (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40541741)

As the president, or member of his cabinet, you are supposed to Execute the laws even if you don't like them. The exception being unconstitutional laws (as required by your oath). Since the patent law was constitutional, Jefferson did his job and obeyed the constitution. (Something recent presidents ought to learn to do.) That doesn't mean he approved of patents as shown by the fact he could have granted one to himself but never did.

He could also have granted himself a golden palace and used the army to defend it. The fact that he didn't doesn't mean that he disapproved of gold or palaces, just as the fact that he never granted a patent to himself doesn't mean that he disapproved of patents... Rather, they show that he wasn't corrupt.

Re:Jefferson's Opinion of Patents Changed (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#40541217)

> Thomas Jefferson was the first patent examiner and granted quite a few patents.

He also DENIED quite a few that would have been approved by the current PTO. He had a much more stringent idea about what should be allowed since in his mind the entire thing was a compromise and all inherently dangerous.

Patents should be treated like the toxic waste they are.

Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (5, Informative)

Swampash (1131503) | about 2 years ago | (#40540473)

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State."

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law."

"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter."

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."

-- Thomas Jefferson

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540687)

Isn't funny how a post that makes you like him makes me dislike him?

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#40540737)

> Isn't funny how a post that makes you like him makes me dislike him?

If you find yourself disliking Thomas Jefferson you need to rethink your life.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540767)

I don't dislike him, I despise him for being the biggest hypocrite that ever walked on Earth.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (4, Insightful)

Punko (784684) | about 2 years ago | (#40540801)

Was there something in that post that pointed to hypocrisy, if so I cannot find it. While he was well know to have his own peculiarities, his position clearly stating that religious beliefs should be between a person and their chosen god(s) and that the religious beliefs of others were not his concern, doesn't appear to be contradicted by his behaviour.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (2)

Punko (784684) | about 2 years ago | (#40540747)

At least Jefferson would have placed no restriction on you voicing both your (apparently) religious opinion and your open disagreement with the poster.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (1)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40540803)

Well then you can't blame Jefferson for the reason so many public schools want to shove a bible up your ass nowadays.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (5, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#40540921)

Thomas Jefferson went to church regularly inside the House of Representatives building, where he had built a non-denominational church. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel06-2.html [loc.gov]

It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church. Within a year of his inauguration, Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson's example, although unlike Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, Madison came in a coach and four. Worship services in the House--a practice that continued until after the Civil War--were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. Preachers of every Protestant denomination appeared. (Catholic priests began officiating in 1826.) As early as January 1806 a female evangelist, Dorothy Ripley, delivered a camp meeting-style exhortation in the House to Jefferson, Vice President Aaron Burr, and a "crowded audience." Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers. Jefferson's actions may seem surprising because his attitude toward the relation between religion and government is usually thought to have been embodied in his recommendation that there exist "a wall of separation between church and state." In that statement, Jefferson was apparently declaring his opposition, as Madison had done in introducing the Bill of Rights, to a "national" religion. In attending church services on public property, Jefferson and Madison consciously and deliberately were offering symbolic support to religion as a prop for republican government.

He also granted federal money to spread the gospel to Indians http://vftonline.org/EndTheWall/indian_evangelization.htm [vftonline.org]

Notice that during his administration, Jefferson appropriated funds for Christian missionaries to evangelize the heathen, as Justice Rehnquist noted: As the United States moved from the 18th into the 19th century, Congress appropriated time and again public moneys in support of sectarian Indian education carried on by religious organizations. Typical of these was Jefferson's treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians, which provided annual cash support for the Tribe's Roman Catholic priest and church. The treaty stated in part: "And whereas, the greater part of said Tribe have been baptized and received into the Catholic church, to which they are much attached, the United States will give annually for seven years one hundred dollars towards the support of a priest of that religion . . . [a]nd . . . three hundred dollars, to assist the said Tribe in the erection of a church." 7 Stat. 79.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#40541543)

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Treaty of Tripoli. Passed unanimously by the Senate. Three newspapers printed it whole. Each Senator got a printed copy. Not a single letters to the editor in protest. Not a single sermon recorded anywhere in protest. No protest from anyone in the USA. Almost all the founding fathers were still alive. No concern about it even in their private correspondence. John Adams made a special signing statement about this treaty. Against such specific and unambiguous statements, you look for symbolic meaning on their various acts.

I am a Hindu. I am here. I have as much rights and as much American as you are. Deal with it.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | about 2 years ago | (#40542001)

I agree with you about the separation of church and state, but I never hear anyone mention the problem with the Tripoli as evidence for this: we signed the treaty of Tripoli along with sizable ransom payments to convince the Barbary pirates to stop raiding and capturing our ships in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic. So, in essence, we were extorted into signing the treaty of Tripoli by a hostile power that disliked the Christian religion. Perhaps, then, something like the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom [wikipedia.org] would be better evidence (it was only a Virginia state law, but it was written by Thomas Jefferson).

Or, better yet, maybe we should just stop the pointless squabbling about what our founders thought about the question. The actual meaning of the Establishment Clause at the time of its ratification is entirely clear: it prevented the federal government from creating a federal church that would supplant state churches. State churches, on the other hand, were very common. (Of course, the Establishment Clause, like the rest of the bill of rights, was made applicable against the states by the 14th Amendment. It's a un brain teaser to figure out what it would mean to apply a federalism provision like the establishment clause against the states.) (Yes, I am a constitutional lawyer.) But, fortunately, in the years since then, the idea of religious freedom in its modern incarnation has become extremely well accepted in both the U.S. both in our system of constitutional law and in the popular culture. Aren't we better off defending that cultural progress on its own merits than pointlessly, fruitlessly re-litigating the founding?

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (5, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#40541557)

The word "God" does not appear in the US Constitution, nor is there any other reference to a deity except in the date on the document "In the year of our Lord 1787".

Jefferson and Madison (primary author of the Constitution) had the opinion that there needed to be a very strong separation between state and religion. Madison wrote a famous petition when Virginia was considering the issue of state support of religion which included the phrase "not three pence" which has been cited in several Supreme Court decisions regarding the state support of religion.

The concept of Jefferson granting money to missionaries to spread the gospel to Indians is a MAJOR distortion of the intent. Jefferson needed to convert the Indians from hunter-gatherers to farmers to be able to use the land they owned for the growth of the United States. This required educating the Indians in a new way of life. The fact that the money was granted to missionaries is simply because they were the low bidders; that is they were willing to take less money than anyone else to undertake the job because they had an ulterior motive.

> It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church

Actually that is a gross exaggeration and something both Jefferson and Madison would have been horrified with if anyone had suggested it.

One needs to understand the physical realities of Washington DC in the early days of the Republic. It was in fact generally a wilderness with a few large buildings dropped in. It wasn't a developed city with substantial infrastructure. If you wanted to hold services the only physical structures available were in fact the government buildings.

Also - are you aware that Jefferson and Madison were Deists who denied the divinity of Christ and much of the Bible?

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541013)

"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."

He said this coz he was a muslim lover.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (-1, Flamebait)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40541155)

Speaking of religions, I wonder what he'd have to say about religions of the political Left such as communism and environmentalism? Some of those are quite adept at picking one's pocket.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (4, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40541329)

When Jefferson was alive, his home state had an official religion that all taxpayers were required to support. In the 1800s Jefferson wrote an amendment to the Virginia Constitution to abolish it.

And I take Jefferson's quote from your post and modify it. If he were alive today he'd probably say, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to have insurance or no insurance. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." He'd also probably re-publish his Kentucky Resolutions declaring that, per the 10th amendment, the power to mandate purchase of a private product is reserved to the People and their Legislatures..... not the Congress.

>>>Thank Jebus he can't see the US today

Indeed. In response to the Supreme Court decision he would declare: "When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of state governments on the central government, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated â¦. â" Letter to C. Hammond, July 1821

I fear, dear Sir, we are now in such another crisis [as when the Alien and Sedition Laws were enacted], with this difference only, that the judiciary branch is alone and single-handed in the present assaults on the Constitution. But its assaults are more sure and deadly, as from an agent seemingly passive and unassuming. â" Letter to Mr. Nicholas, Dec. 1821

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (1)

CtownNighrider (1443513) | about 2 years ago | (#40541437)

And I take Jefferson's quote from your post and modify it. If he were alive today he'd probably say, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to have insurance or no insurance. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." He'd also probably re-publish his Kentucky Resolutions declaring that, per the 10th amendment, the power to mandate purchase of a private product is reserved to the People and their Legislatures..... not the Congress.

Until your neighbor can't afford to give their kid a vaccine, and your kid gets a disease and dies because he was one of those that the vaccine doesn't work on. The health of the population is in the best interest of the entire population. I don't think the healthcare law is the best solution but to say that the health of your neighbor doesn't affect you is to live in a very small bubble.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542003)

And I take Jefferson's quote from your post and modify it. If he were alive today he'd probably say, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to have insurance or no insurance. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Then we'd tell him about EMTALA, and tell him the choice was to either let people die when they could be treated, or...get payment for it.

Tell us which he'd choose.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 2 years ago | (#40541497)

I'm a foreigner and regular critic of the American government and I think Jefferson is simply one of the best Presidents to ever exist.

Re:Thank Jebus he can't see the US today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541945)

Thomas Jefferson was a mason. They don't believe in organized religion per say. They believe in God, The Grand Architect. You are free to worship God as you will in the free masons however you can not push or talk about your religious views within the masons. But you must and I stress must believe in God.

They forgot... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540487)

Defacto atheist and slave owner. Not that the two are related, of course.

Pedometer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540517)

Is a Pedometer some sort of Pedophile detector?

Re:Pedometer? (2)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40540695)

you sarcasm is lacking so I will answer accordingly.
No, it counts how many steps you take in any given period of time. Some people use them as exercise devices and attempt to take at least 10,000 steps in a day. Not sure how many miles that translates into, but i am sure a quick google search or some math whiz from here can figure it out.

Re:Pedometer? (1)

shione (666388) | about 2 years ago | (#40541039)

Why yes. Funny you should ask that. .It was one of his black projects for the US government to use on TOR.

What the hell is (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40540525)

What the hell is a "hemp break pedometer"?

Re:What the hell is (2)

MrHanky (141717) | about 2 years ago | (#40540619)

When you take a hemp break, it naturally influences the length of your footsteps as you chill out more. Not so much an invention as a discovery.

and terrorist. (3, Insightful)

quenda (644621) | about 2 years ago | (#40540555)

a successful terrorist, otherwise known as a revolutionary.

Re:and terrorist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541173)

Successful terrorists aren't just revolutionaries, they're patriots.

And this is how our Republic fell (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540565)

Jefferson promoted science as President by recommending to Congress a coast survey to accurately chart the coast of America that later evolved into the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.

Just goes to show that even a Founding Father like Jefferson, who should have known better, distorted the plain meaning of the Constitution for his own private whims. The sole purpose of the federal government is to keep us free by providing defense and to run the Post Office. It has no duty nor right to "accurately chart the coast of America". If that is truly important, then it can be taken up by state governments or, better, by private enterprise. Meanwhile, all of you Jefferson fans who favor putting a gun to your neighbors' heads to pay for your hobbies, ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

Re:And this is how our Republic fell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540639)

Are you really stating that having an accurate map of the territory that falls under it is not an interest of your federal government?

And yet... (5, Insightful)

cardpuncher (713057) | about 2 years ago | (#40540585)

... he was never able to satisfactorily distinguish between "principle" and 'practice".

As in the principle of being opposed to slavery while in practice shagging the property.

Re:And yet... (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#40540649)

And thus formed the template for all modern politics, profoundly condemning in others those things that they tacitly cherish the most.

Re:And yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540817)

IIRC this has never been conclusively proven. The only thing that has been established is that the descendants of some of his slaves have a shared male lineage with the Jeffersons. The former slave family's oral tradition was one in which Thomas Jefferson's brother fathered children with Sally Hemings. Which, unfortunately, is not nearly as sensational.

Re:And yet... (1)

radtea (464814) | about 2 years ago | (#40541659)

The Great Wiki mostly disagrees:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson-Hemings_controversy [wikipedia.org]

tl;dr: all but a small handful of scholars consider the weight of the evidence is strongly in favour of Jefferson as the father, particularly in the context of the culture of the time. Humans have a great deal of trouble with deductive closure, and there's no reason Jefferson was any better at it than the rest of us.

On the other hand, isn't it remarkable that someone who was still so deeply embedded in the evils of his time was able to do so much good?

Jefferson and friends also were the ANONYMOUS (4, Insightful)

colordev (1764040) | about 2 years ago | (#40540607)

I read somewhere that at the beginning of their revolutionary path Jefferson and many of the founding fathers were using various alias names and operated via proxies to conceal their true identity and goals. Ok, if they had been more open of their goals and identities they would have been shot and not remembered. Right to be anonymous, maybe it should have been written into constitution.

maybe EFF could use that as a propaganda tool

A Great Man's Wisdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540609)

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." -- Thomas Jefferson

Re:A Great Man's Wisdom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541781)

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." -- Julius Motherfucking Caesar

FTFY.

Well, it's equally accurate, and a bit more impressive.

And his best invention of all.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540671)

The folding chair with rounded corners.

Ba-zing!

Let's Not Forget Franklin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40540691)

Benjamin Franklin, another Founding Father of the US, was quite the technologist. Read more at Tikalon Blog [tikalon.com].

Amazing man (4, Interesting)

Stanislav_J (947290) | about 2 years ago | (#40540729)

It was not quite hyperbole when JFK jokingly addressed a group of Nobel winners at the White House: "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

Man, he accomplished so much, yet still found time to regularly impregnate the help!

Um, Lewis and Clark? (4, Interesting)

portforward (313061) | about 2 years ago | (#40540741)

If you are going to mention the coastal survey, why not also mention the Lewis and Clark expedition? The "Corps of Discovery" was a huge cartographic, biological, geological, and sociological enterprise. They took the best scientific equipment they could, charted rivers and mountains, kept daily records, and brought back samples. They didn't know what was in the Rocky Mountains, and Jefferson told them to find Mastodons.

Lewis was Jefferson's personal secretary, and Jefferson made sure that Lewis had all the scientific training possible at the time. I'd say that pushing through the funding and planning of the mapping of the the Rocky Mountains, Missouri River and Columbia River ranks up there with the dumb waiter.

Re:Um, Lewis and Clark? (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 2 years ago | (#40541501)

It's interesting how Jefferson wanted them to seek out animals known only from fossils, like the woolly mammoth and giant ground sloth. He assumed there must still be living examples, for some reason; I think it was part of the intellectual mindset of the time.

It's about his scientific endeavors! (1, Flamebait)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40540777)

I love how people are bringing up his slave owning in the modern day. Of course it's not right by today's standards, but you know, back then it was actually kewl to own people.
Besides this isn't about his slave owning. It's about his scientific endeavors. Put all the bad things and negativity about him aside for the moment and we can talk about it later, but for now, let's talk about the kewl shit he did to help make the world a better place.

Re:It's about his scientific endeavors! (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#40542209)

besides its more about how he treated his slaves and not that he owned them.

did he treat them like people or like vermin??

And to think that (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40540793)

At the same time a young Abraham Lincoln was just starting his vampire-hunting career

Common trait of national heroes (2)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | about 2 years ago | (#40540945)

Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, whose signing we celebrate today, was considered an expert in architecture, civil engineering, geography, mathematics, ethnology, anthropology, mechanics, and the sciences.

Not to take anything away from the Man, but being a polymath [wikipedia.org] appears to be a necessary qualification to be a national hero, one of the Founding Fathers, or the Great Leader [wikipedia.org] of a country. Why is it necessary to prove that a man is a larger-than-life expert in everything?

Re:Common trait of national heroes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541225)

Also a liberal. Never forget that, all you right wing "constructionist" people out there who worship not the founders but the made-up ideal of the founders. Jefferson and his ilk would find your inflexibility, selfishness, and general Ayn Rand inspired ideas repulsive. He wanted an actual society. Not one in which everything is given to you, but one where actual opportunities exist and the commons are respected. The man founded a free university, which thanks to conservatives is no longer free, and that is one of the accomplishments he had listed on his tombstone. Being President of the United States, BTW, was not one of those accomplishments.

For someone so allegedly opposed to patents... (4, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 2 years ago | (#40540967)

... he sure did a great job as the author of the Patent Act and first Patent Examiner. Isn't it somewhat more reasonable to say that he never patented his own inventions because, y'know, he'd be the one examining them and granting the patent and that would be a huge ethical breach and lead to charges of corruption?

Re:For someone so allegedly opposed to patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541871)

That's patently obvious.

Re:For someone so allegedly opposed to patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542163)

No, dumbass, it isn't. He was opposed to Madison's copyright and patent clause; he firmly opposed both copyrights and patents, and wanted them, if established at all, to have a constitutionally defined span of 19 years on the theory that, however beneficial the incentive of monopoly might be, a generation cannot morally bind its successor. (19 years being the duration in which half the presently of-age generation should have expired, using data from Jefferson's day.)

He accepted them, despite believing them likely to do more harm than good, because he believed in democracy, not Jeffocracy. And surely a well-written patent act is preferable to a poorly-written one.

Metric System (5, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#40540995)

The Constitution contains a clause empowering the government to establish a system of weights and measures.

Jefferson, in part because of his experience as a surveyor using chains divided into 100 links, and also from reading 'Disme: the art of tenths by Simon Stevin' was familiar with the benefits of doing measurement calculations in decimal units, and proposed that the US adopt a decimal system of weights and measures.

Unfortunately Congress did not appreciate the usefulness of this idea and failed to act on the proposal setting a really bad precedent.

As ambassadors to France he and Ben Franklin had access to French intellectuals and brought up this topic to the French. Whether the French would have developed this independently or not I don't know. Certainly they may have known about the idea from other sources.

But if Congress had heeded his ideas the US would have had a decimal measurement system before any other nation. Jefferson may also have been the catalyst for the French adoption of their decimal measurement system.

Because of Jefferson the US had the first decimal system of any type in its currency thanks to Jefferson, predating the metric system.

So please add this quote to your list:

  ⦠every branch to the same decimal ratio, thus bringing the calculations of the principal affairs of
life within the arithmetic of every man who can multiply and divide plain numbers.
                      - Thomas Jefferson

His meat ration was just 225 grams per week! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#40541273)

In my visit to Montecello, the factoid that impressed me most was the meat ration of his workers (yes, slaves). It was half a pound a week! Three quarter pounder burgers are routinely on the menu now a days. Most of us work in air conditioned offices clicking keyboards and mouse. Even the blue collar workers have so many machines assisting them it is practically a walk in the park compared to the work done by Teejay's workers. But they made do with just half a pound of meat!

Has a BLACK ever done all those things? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541369)

Or ANY of them? How does your BLACK 'president' compare to Jefferson? Is he fit to lick his boots? Is your country being destroyed by your government? Are you looking forward to becoming a white minority in a country full of useless, hate-filled third worlders? I'm sure your children aren't.

Leadership in US's first few decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40541655)

I feel awe at the great leadership the United States had in its first few decades. These were admirable human beings. These were great strong men who had the will to do the right thing and stand up for their values. They were so very forward thinking! They placed the good of the country and the good of people ahead of expedience.

Being an Asian Indian, I have been brought up with mythological stories that extol good values and ideal conduct. Many of these great men from the US personified these teachings, and yet were oblivious to the fact that their conduct would be held in high esteem by a certain eastern philosophy. I can especially think of George Washington, who had the all the power that one could think of and yet he had enough 'virakti' (non-attachment) to give it all up. This is among the highest teachings of Bhagwat Gita. US was especially fortunate that it serendipitously had the right kind of leadership at the time it was dearly needed. Sometime ago I saw a documentary about Andrew Jackson. Some of the things he did might be called harsh and unjustified today, but he did solve for ever the problems he dealt with.

And then there is Abraham Lincoln. What an amazing and principled person! I believe it is simple, honest and strong men like these, both among the common men and politicians that laid the foundations for the great country the US later became.

brilliant but flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542245)

As this is also the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, we shouldn't forget that Jefferson also once exhorted "Canada will be ours, but for the marching."

This of course contributed to a false sense of military preparedness that cost the upstart Americans dearly in their invasion attempts, and which eventually indirectly resulted in the retaliatory burning down of the White House by the British and the galvanization of Canada's population in defense of its right to liberty and eventual self determination in the form of Confederation.

He may have been a brilliant inventor and constitutionalist, but he was blinded by self-righteous nationalism.

he was a huge debtor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40542263)

and a slave owner. fuck him. sleazy piece of shit.

Monticello (3, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | about 2 years ago | (#40542301)

Monticello is really worth a visit. I thought the clock at the main entrance to the building was fascinating. It uses weights that look like cannon balls to power the mechanism. However, there wasn't enough room for the weights to descend downward to allow the clock to run for a full week at a time. Jefferson's solution? Cut holes in the floor and allow the weights to travel down into the cellar / basement area. He decided to leave the weights exposed because boxing them in would have blocked some of the windows. However, by leaving them exposed he was able to make additional use of them - he marked the days of the week on the wall, so that the position of the weight showed the day of the week.

It's also interesting that the clock has two faces - one on the interior of the house, and the other above the main entrance on the exterior. Jefferson decided that the exterior face should only have an hour hand. Now, the reasoning given by the tour guides is that the slaves and farm hands didn't need to know the minute, only the hour - precision to the minute wasn't necessary for them. However, the more I've thought about it, I think Jefferson had a more practical reason in mind. With two hands, and from a far distance, it's difficult to make out which is the hour and which is the minute. With just an hour hand it would be easier to tell the time from a very far distance. That fits in more with his sense of invention and practicality.

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