In which John Green teaches you about founding father and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is a somewhat controversial figure in American history, largely because he, like pretty much all humans, was a big bundle of contradictions. Jefferson was a slave-owner who couldn’t decide if he liked slavery. He advocated for small government, but expanded federal power more than either of his presidential predecessor. He also idealized the independent farmer and demonized manufacturing, but put policies in place that would expand industrial production in the US. Controversy may ensue as we try to deviate a bit from the standard hagiography/slander story that usually told about old TJ. John explores Jefferson’s election, his policies, and some of the new nation’s (literally and figuratively) formative events that took place during Jefferson’s presidency. In addition to all this, Napoleon drops in to sell Louisiana, John Marshall sets the course of the Supreme Court, and John Adams gets called a tiny tyrant.
Hey teachers and students – Check out CommonLit’s free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. Thomas Jefferson is remembered as the Founding Father responsible for saying all men are created equal in The Declaration of Independence: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/the-declaration-of-independence
Jefferson didn’t always practice what he preached though, as seen in his mixed views on American Indians: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/excerpts-from-thomas-jefferson-s-writings-on-american-indians