Thomas Jefferson: Liberty and PowerSubmitted by jruss133 on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 11:30
It is doubtful that Thomas Jefferson could have been elected President in the twentieth century. It is almost equally doubtful that he could have been elected to that high office at any time past 1850. Now I do not draw these conclusions simply because, as we say, times change, and any person thrown suddenly into another era would be more or less out of place and unsuited to positions of power and prestige in the later era. It is rather that Jefferson did not have the temperament, character, and turn of mind to have won election in the later era.
Jefferson shrank from public debate as a young child does from going into the darkness alone. He avoided, so far as possible, all occasions for public speaking. He disliked pomp, ceremony, confrontations, and heated discourse. As President, he preferred written opinions from his department heads rather than to convene cabinet meetings in an attempt to reach conclusions. He was tall, gangly, freckled, sandy-haired, and some thought they detected a sneakiness about him. For this latter reason, especially, he would probably have been a disaster on television, where openness and straightforward honesty of appearance is essential, though actors can feign such looks with ease, while honest men with a squint might be thought scoundrels. Some thought Jefferson was being overly anxious for popular approval when he did not speak out on controversial matters. The truth may be otherwise; Jefferson loved the truth too much to see it traded casually in the marketplace.