Monday, May 5, 2014

Documentary Review: Thomas Jefferson: Ken Burns

This documentary of Thomas Jefferson, deals with Thomas Jefferson as the enigma.  How can someone write, "All men are created equal" and then own 300 slaves.  He did argue for emancipation of the slaves, and in fact this was included the the Declaration of Independence, but politics postponed any handling of the slavery issue, which kept being kicked down the road.  Jefferson was resolved to live with slavery and its consequences. 
The Declaration of Independence, which Jefferson wrote, is the document which defines us as a nation.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 
The other piece of controversy is whether or not Jefferson sired six children by his slave, Sally Hemings.  I guess the jury is still out on that question.  For shire they were sired by a Jefferson, but it may have been a brother rather then Thomas Jefferson himself. 
This documentary shows Jefferson's life which includes his mission as ambassador to France.  He was the first Secretary of State, where he was pitted against Alexander Hamilton.  He ran against the Federalist John Adams, losing the first time, but then becoming president the second.  As the third president he doubled the size of the United States by purchasing Louisiana from France.  He was a man interested in many things, but considered himself more a farmer than anything else.  Also reading and studying were very important to him, and this was a daily activity. 
50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed away on the same day.  This documentary is adequate, but a bit boring.  Thomas Jefferson was an intellectual man.

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