Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13th in 1743. [It was April 2nd on the calendar when he was born, but it’s that old Julian-Gregorian thing again.]
Eight-three years later, at the end of his remarkable life, he wished to be remembered foremost for those actions that appear as his epitaph:
Author of the
At a White House dinner honoring 49 Nobel laureates in 1962, President Kennedy remarked, “I think this is the most extraordinary talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Despite serious flaws, Jefferson remains one of the most remarkable Americans.
In addition to being a writer, Jefferson was also a hard-nosed politician, lawyer, naturalist, musician, architect, geographer, inventor, scientist, paleontologist, and philosopher. Jefferson filled his house with scientific gadgets and inventions, collected mastodon bones, and kept detailed notes on the most obscure details of his life, including the daily fluctuation of the barometric pressure. After he missed the start of the solar eclipse in 1811, he designed his own more accurate astronomical clock. He composed all his papers in later life with a device that allowed him to write with two pens at the same time, so that he could keep copies of all the papers he produced.
It seems to NewMexiKen that the country could use a federal holiday during that long spell from Washington’s Birthday to Memorial Day — for shopping and sales and stuff. I propose that April 13th, Jefferson’s birthday, would be ideal.
Click on the image of the document to view Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence. The photo of Jefferson’s tomb above taken by NewMexiKen, 2001.