America’s Loyal Worker: A Playlist Profile of Thomas Jefferson

Photo from earlyamerica.com

by Jake Colberg  
Thomas Jefferson was an incredibly influential man in colonial America. It takes a dedicated man to rebel against the most powerful empire in the world, let alone pen the document declaring independence from it. Jefferson devoted the majority of his life to making his country a better place, and through his hard work and sacrifices he succeeded in his goal. In Jefferson we observe one of the greatest minds of early America, and though he had his flaws, he was undoubtedly one of the greatest leaders our nation has ever seen.The following playlist ofsongs gives interesting insight into Jefferson’s achievements, as well as him as a person.

Track 1 – Man With a Vision
Parr, John. “Man With a Vision.” Man With a Vision. Edelton, 1992. CD.

If ever there was a man with a vision in colonial America, Thomas Jefferson was that man. His dedication and hard work was obvious from a very early point in his life, most prominently through his studies. He enrolled in the College of William and Mary at the age of sixteen, already sporting the ability to fluently read Greek and Latin. He finished his studies there in a short two years, then read law for the next five years.[1] The lyrics: “You want to change the world, you need a man with a vision,” are very relevant to Jefferson in his early years. He was obviously bound for greatness, and turned out to be the man whose vision shaped America as it is today.

Track 2 – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Simon and Garfunkel. “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Bridge Over Troubled Water. Columbia, 1970. CD.

“I will lay me down, like a bridge over troubled water.” Those lyrics are representative of Jefferson’s selflessness throughout the years he served in the United States government. One of the most selfless acts of his came at the beginning of his political career, when he was serving as a delegate at the Second Continental Congress. He yearned to return to Virginia to help draft a state constitution, but upon being elected to a five person committee assigned with writing a declaration declaring the United States’ independence, he stayed. Even on the committee, he felt that the person most suited for the job was John Adams, but when he was unanimously chosen to draft the declaration, he hesitantly bore the burden.[2] He then went on to write one of the most defining documents of the United States to this date.

Track 3 – I Won’t Back Down
Petty, Tom. “I Won’t Back Down.” Full Moon Fever. MCA, 1988. CD.

“I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down.” These lyrics describe Jefferson’s character in dealing with foreign affairs. One example of this came shortly after Jefferson was elected as the third president of the United States. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson decided to take action against the pirates in Tripoli, who had been seizing American merchant vessels for years. His decisive actions restored piece in the Mediterranean for the time being, and proved him as a great commander and leader early in his presidential term. [3]

Track 4 – The High Road
Broken Bells. “The High Road.” Broken Bells. Columbia, 2010. CD.

Thomas Jefferson firmly believed that a smaller central government would lead to a better America, so he was faced with an internal conflict when contemplating purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France. As Jefferson saw it, purchasing the Louisiana Territory didn’t fall under his powers as President under the Constitution. He proposed adding an amendment to the Constitution, but his cabinet convinced him that the amendment was unnecessary. Jefferson decided to make an exception in this situation, and though purchasing the Louisiana Territory went against his morals, Jefferson decided, in this situation, that it was for the best and would ultimately benefit the country.[4] The lyrics “the high road is hard to find” describe Jefferson’s situation here well, but most would agree that his decision to purchase the Louisiana Territory was a great decision, and solidifies him as one of the greatest leaders this country has seen.

Track 5 – Death is not the End
Dylan, Bob. “Death Is Not the End.” Down in the Groove. Columbia, 1988. CD.

Though Thomas Jefferson has long since passed away, his actions and ideas are still very much alive today. One notable accomplishment of Jefferson’s which is still very much apparent today is his founding of the University of Virginia. This is one of his proudest achievements, and also appears on his epitaph.[5] In starting this University, Jefferson created a place which offers the betterment of young men and women centuries later. This is a perfect example that “death is not the end,” and the impact of a great leader can affect people for the better even after centuries have passed.

_______________________________________________________________________

[1] “Jefferson’s College Life.” William & Mary. The College of William and Mary.

[2]”Declaration of Independence: Right to Institute New Government.” Thomas Jefferson. Library of   Congress.

[3] “Barbary Wars.” Office of the Historian. US Department of State. Web.

[4] “The Louisiana Purchase.” Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Monticello.

[5] “The Short History of the University of Virginia.” Short History of the University of Virginia.

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