Here are recommended essays regarding Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) on The Imaginative Conservative:
Looking for Mr. Jefferson by Clyde Wilson
Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday by Clyde Wilson
Thomas Jefferson & the American Declaration of Independence by Ross Lence
Thomas Jefferson, Conservative by Clyde Wilson
Jefferson Was Right by Joseph Sobran
Calhoun, Jefferson, and Popular Rule by Lee Cheek
The Jeffersonian Conservative Tradition by Clyde Wilson
From Union to Empire by W. Winston Elliott III
More on “Thomas Jefferson” on The Imaginative Conservative (including quotations from Mr. Jefferson)
Temperate, sound in morals, sound in taste, learned in more than one discipline, open-handed, ready to fill great offices at personal sacrifice and then to retire modestly to Monticello—this was the genuine Jefferson, no doctrinaire egalitarian, no abstract intellectual…Jefferson indeed was a Whig through and through, with the virtues and the defects of the breed. Joined with this Whiggery was another facet of his character…a bitter partisanship, not overly scrupulous…Jefferson could be ferociously emotional in politics.—Russell Kirk (pg. xvii, introduction to Mr. Jefferson by Albert J. Nock)
Jefferson and his friends came to power (the “Revolution of 1800”) in opposition to the economic and moral imperialism of Hamilton and his friends—a program of taxes, manipulation of the economy for the inevitable benefit of the few and the burden of the many, moral dragooning of the population, and involvement in foreign power politics. It was this threat that Jefferson and his friends put down, and kept down, for half a century—the happiest era of the Union.—Clyde Wilson (Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday)
Jefferson, despite the show of French ideas which he made from time to time, founded his idea of liberty and justice upon the writings of Coke and Kames and the other English juridical writers, and upon the tradition of English freedom from the Anglo-Saxons down to the 18th century.—Russell Kirk, Program for Conservatives
Among the agrarian and democratic Republicans looms the angular figure of Jefferson, whose doctrines always were more radical than his practice and far less extreme than French notions of liberty…as his talents were immensely varied, so did his character display odd and sometimes inconsistent facets…Yet for all this, and for all his acquaintance with the philosophes and his affection for France, Jefferson had Coke, Locke, and Kames for his real political mentors; and, like them, he had half a mind to be a conservative—and sometimes more than half a mind for it.—Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind, p. 73
Not only did Jesus manifest Himself as the Logos so long desired in the pagan West on that Friday afternoon, but He also manifested Himself as the Christ, the true and eternal king. In some mysterious way, it was the death on Friday that revealed all of this, not the resurrection on Sunday…
As Jesus looked down from the cross, so close to three o’clock on a Friday afternoon, he saw his “mother, with her sister, Mary wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.” Next to the three Marys stood “the disciple whom he loved,” St. John. For nearly four decades, this scene has haunted me. As Catholics, we focus so much on Jesus’s physical suffering on the cross, the pain his mother must have felt, and the forthcoming death and resurrection that we often readily and understandably skip a person who is vital—actually, fundamentally and profoundly critical—to the entire story: St. John. Tradition tells us that John was the youngest, that he was the last to write his Gospel, and that he was the only apostle not to have been brutally martyred. At the moment that Jesus looked down from the Cross, He gave His mother to John, asking him and his house to shelter her. “’There is your mother’; and from that moment the disciple took her into his home.” While I have often wondered what St. John must have felt—the pain and the anguish—at seeing his savior crucified, I have wondered far more often what Jesus must have felt, especially given that He was fully man as well as fully God. No doubt, it meant a great deal to Him to have the four by his side in His greatest moment of agony. All to the good.
But, as a man, what must He have thought knowing that all eleven of His closest male friends had betrayed Him, deserted Him in His hour of greatest need? Judas the worst, to be sure, but even Peter had denied Him three times, and not a single one of them dared suffer with Him or even next to Him that Friday afternoon. Only John. Might this not have been a blow as great as any dealt to Him in his entire thirty-three years of Incarnate life on this world of sorrows? Though I have no idea, perhaps these betrayals were the greatest blow to Jesus. It’s possible I’m projecting too much of myself on the situation, but given that Jesus already knew what God the Father’s response would be, how the people would (pen)ultimately view him, and the fortitude of His mother He had come to cherish, the only real unknown in the entire Passion was the response of His closest friends. We expect nothing of Pilate, but of Peter and James? While their betrayal is, of course, forgivable, it’s deeply disturbing. We expect our leaders to lead, but we—even more—expect our friends to stand by us, no matter the cost. After all, is there a greater definition of friendship? Or, of love?
Could we imagine Beowulf without Wiglaf, or Frodo without Sam?
When Jesus died on the cross, He revealed Himself—at least as St. Paul tells us—as the King of the Universe, the touchstone of all creation.
Through Him God chose to reconcile the whole universe to himself, making peace through the blood upon the cross—to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through him alone.
Not only did Jesus manifest Himself as the Logos so long desired in the pagan West on that Friday afternoon, but He also manifested Himself as the Christ, the true and eternal king. In some mysterious way, it was the death on Friday that revealed all of this, not the resurrection on Sunday. And, yet, we regard the resurrection as the ultimate joy in a Christian life, the conquering of death itself. If we take St. Paul at face value, however, Jesus conquered death not by His resurrection but by His surrender to death, some forty-odd hours earlier.
Though I am no theologian, I have often thought St. Paul’s understanding came from St. John, with Paul—having been deeply anti-Jesus at the time of Jesus’ death—in hindsight, wondering with some disgust what happened to Peter, to James, and to the others who betrayed their savior.
St. Paul’s meditations on suffering are nothing short of profound, perhaps some of the wisest in all of Western literature. They are worth quoting at length and meditating upon.
In his letter to the Colossians:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body—for the sake of his body, the church—what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. (St. Paul, Letters to the Colossians 1:24)
In his letter to the Romans:
Let us exult in the hope of the divine splendor that is to be ours. More than this: let us even exult in our present sufferings, because we know that suffering trains us to endure, and endurance brings proof that we have stood the test, and this proof is the ground of hope. (St. Paul, Letters to the Romans 5:2-5)
In his letter to the Philippians (3: 12-14):
My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Or, as the anonymous author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote:
And have you forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons? My son, do not scorn the Lord’s discipline or give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son he accepts. Endure your suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you do not experience discipline, something all sons have shared in, then you are illegitimate and are not sons. Besides, we have experienced discipline from our earthly fathers and we respected them; shall we not submit ourselves all the more to the Father of spirits and receive life? For they disciplined us for a little while as seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit, that we may share his holiness. Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your listless hands and your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but be healed. (Author unknown, Letter to the Hebrews, 12: 5-13)
Jump forward, nineteen centuries. Of all meditations on suffering in the twentieth-century, perhaps none have struck me as hard as did Whittaker Chambers in his own memoir, Witness (1952), as he admits to his children that he might very well fail in this world and take his own life, knowing how much pain one can or—simply—cannot tolerate.
My children, when you were little, we used sometimes to go for walks in our pine woods. In the open fields, you would run along by yourselves. But you used instinctively to give me your hands as we entered those woods, where it was darker, lonelier, and in the stillness our voices sounded loud and frightening. In this book I am again giving you my hands. I am leading you, not through cool pinewoods, but up and up a narrow defile between bare and steep rocks from which in shadow things uncoil and slither away. It will be dark. But, in the end, if I have let you aright, you will make out three crosses, from two of which hang thieves. I will have brought you to Golgotha—the place of skulls. This is the meaning of the journey. Before you understand, I may not be there; my hands may have slipped from yours. It will not matter. For when you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman, and child on earth, you will be wise.—Whittaker Chambers, 1952
I do not doubt that St. Peter and St. James grew in wisdom, but I also have no doubt that they never grew in wisdom as did St. John. Or, maybe St. John was wise even before that Friday afternoon.
This afternoon, as you contemplate the death of Our Lord, don’t forget that John remained. Fully man and fully God, Jesus saved all of Creation, but John, so unbelievably human, shows us what the true man does in the face of adversity.
Well, the 2018 mid-term elections are on us. As we all know, today every aspect of our existence is affected by government, so naturally, I do understand why we want to keep an eye on the thing. That’s just good citizenship.
Damn! Here we go again. The Senate this week passed a 2,200-page, $1.3 trillion spending bill that includes some wins for both parties, but avoids major issues that the voter think important. Yes, it will keep the government open through the end of September. Without a doubt, the passing of the 1.3 trillion dollar budget bill, one thing has become crystal clear, insane liberals and the corrupt Washington elite always win the day, no matter what the election results may say. This is a fact of life.
One of the big points of the omnibus spending bill, passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate, will allow more illegal aliens to be released into the United States after they are caught crossing the southern border through the “Catch and Release” program. For every action there is a reaction.
For nearly six decades now, we’ve watched this charade time after time. This crap has got to stop. Despite Republican or Democratic promises for fiscal responsibility, they continue to spend like a bunch of drunken sailors on liberty. Our elected leaders chose to blow this huge amount of money without even the pretense of having read the frickin’ bill is both shocking, disgusting and unbelievable. What is hard to handle is most of us remain complacent and continue about our daily routines like I don’t have time or I don’t give a shit. We barely blink as Congress binges on $1.3 trillion in unpaid- federal spending. Thinking back not that long to ago, a bill hammered out in secret. caused the House to revolt against then-speaker dumb ass John Boehner. Yet today’s secretly negotiated package fails to crack even the front page of the news, we are treated instead to the blow by blow details of Trump’s alleged affair with a Playboy model. This is our American version of the great America.
When I look back at all the election I voted in the one thing jumps out at me over and over and over is politicians are the only people in the world who work their ass off at creating problems and then have the gall to come to us blowing smoke up our skirt then go all out to campaign against the problem. Just think for one minute—I think we have a problem here.
All right, for example, have you ever wondered, we hear all the time both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, then WHY in the cat hair do we have deficits? Deficits just didn’t jump out of thin air, do they. For every action there is a reaction.
OK! how about this one, have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY in the cat hair do we have inflation and high taxes? For every action there is a reaction.
Let’s look at this:
- You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.
- You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations.
- The House of Representatives does.
- You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.
- You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.
- You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.
Now let’s look at the players here:
We have 100 senators, 435 congressmen, 1 President, and 9 Supreme Court justices. Now that equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million plus voters. The way I see this is that the 545 politicians are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country, without any doubt.
To be fair here I have to exclude the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that frickin’ problem was created by the dumb ass Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated it’s Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
Oh hell, I have to exclude all the special interests and dirt bag lobbyists for this reason: They have no legal authority and they have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one frickin’ thing.
Now, think about this! I do not give a damn if they offer a politician $50 million dollars in cash, they just don’t have any authority.
Now, at this point the politician has the power to accept or reject it.
Those 545 politicians that we sent to Washington to do our business will spend much of their time and energy convincing you and me that what they did or how they voted is never their fault. Now that’s BULL SHIT!!
They all cooperate in some form of this misinformation BS regardless of party. For every action there is a reaction.
I think one of the biggest things that separate a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of arrogance, self-importance and gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a House Speaker, who stands up and criticizes the President for creating deficits. (The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.)
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? That would be Paul Ryan. He is the leader of the majority party. (Right) He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. (Right) If the President vetoes it, they can pass it or override his veto if they agree to and have the votes to do it.
It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million plus voters cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility.
I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly back to those 545 people. When you fully look at the full picture there can be no doubt in your mind that the plain truth is when these 545 people exercise the full power of the federal government, the outcome that follows every time they vote is that they own 100% of that outcome, it’s all there.
We need to clean our house, this crap has got to stop, we need to hold our federal government accountable for their votes, action, or anything we don’t like.
Trump’s Steel and Aluminum Tariffs
There are a couple of important economic lessons that the American people should learn. I’m going to title one “the seen and unseen” and the other “narrow well-defined large benefits versus widely dispersed small costs.” These lessons are applicable to a wide range of government behavior, but let’s look at just two examples.
Last week, President Donald Trump enacted high tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Why in the world would the U.S. steel and aluminum industries press the president to levy heavy tariffs? The answer is simple. Reducing the amounts of steel and aluminum that hit our shores enables American producers to charge higher prices. Thus, U.S. steel and aluminum producers will earn higher profits, hire more workers and pay them higher wages. They are the visible beneficiaries of Trump’s tariffs.
Obama Admin Actively Sabotaged Gun Background Check System.
By Cillian Zeal
Testimony by acting FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday revealed that the Obama administration removed the names of over 500,000 individuals with active arrest warrants from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, according to The Daily Wire.
The deletion of the names was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who had originally pinned the change on the Trump administration.
“A little-noticed mandate from the Trump administration has cleared the way for some people with outstanding arrest warrants to purchase guns, a change that worries law enforcement officials who say it could be allowing dangerous criminals to arm themselves,” The Journal-Constitution reported last October.