The duality In Perception Surrounding Thomas Jefferson

Started by Ryex, July 03, 2017, 03:40:26 pm

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So this last semester I had to retake an argument and analysis English class. I made sure the class was with the same professor as last time as I had really liked her.

Anyway. for the previous class, I had written an essay on intellectual property law in America and how it has changed; arguing that its effects had drifted significantly from its purpose.
Part of that argument relied on a letter Thomas Jefferson had written to Isaac McPherson where he wrote the often paraphrased lines:

Quote from: Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson: 13 Aug. 1813If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

(It's really strange how common run on sentences smashed together with commas are in old writings)

Under the assumption that someone as famous and well respected as a scholar as Jefferson would have had a not insignificant impact on anything he cared to comment on I did more research only to find controversy at every turn. In fact, just about every word he ever wrote has well-respected men from his era forward shouting "wrong". Even the public perception seems to have a weird Oh sure he was a Founder of our nation, wrote that all-important declaration of independence - who's those words are effectively holy; but we should disregard his views on almost everything else. So much so that I even have a book my uncle sent me titled "The Jefferson Lies".

So I ended up writing the paper for this last semester on the strange disparity in Jefferson's modern perception.

I touch on everything from the near revolution surrounding the election of 1800 to unfounded attributions of legal scholarship on the basis of court decisions more than a century later.

I'll link a PDF below. If you're just curious, interested in early American history, or just want to see the early parallels to out current political climate feel free to take a look. Hopefully, you'll find it satisfying in some way.
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