The clock on the fireplace mantel along the far wall still ticks away the seconds. On May 10, 1863, that same clock, in that same place, ticked away the last few hours […]
Jefferson: Self-governance and "the field of knowledge"
Final part in a series “The field of knowledge,” said Thomas Jefferson, “is the common prosperity of all mankind.” Jefferson’s words are inscribed in big bold letters in the entryway of Monticello’s […]
Mr. Jefferson's library: "a necessity of life"
Part three in a series “I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams in June of 1815. The former president had just packed his personal library—some 6,700 volumes—into a […]
Jefferson: The man who moved mountains
Second in a series He leveled the top of the mountain with gunpowder. He began the project in 1768, when he was twenty-five. He had his slaves literally sheer off the tip […]
Jefferson: America's great contradiction
First in a series I sit on a small wooden bench, little more than a plank with legs, really, beneath a tulip poplar whose wide branches umbrella me. The grass around the […]
Shootout at the DC Corral
The independently minded political animal always wrestles with times of transition, and the changeover from the Bush to Obama regimes has been worse than most. During the Dubya years it was easy […]
Democracy & Elitism 4: equality, opportunity and leveling up the playing field
Part 4 in a series. Pulitzer- and Emmy-winner William Henry‘s famous polemic, In Defense of Elitism (1994), argues that societies can be ranked along a spectrum with “egalitarianism” on one end and “elitism” […]
D.C.—part two: "What about me?"
I can almost hear Thomas Jefferson calling from across the tidal basin, from across the centuries: “What about me? What about me?” I hardly give the Jefferson Memorial a second glance. I […]