Thomas Jefferson became one of my heroes when I was 13 years old. So you’d think I’d enjoy hearing people say good things about him, but very often, I don’t. My reason is simple: the people who praise Jefferson seldom really understand him, and if they did, it’s questionable that they’d like him. (Others try to get rid of him by trashing his reputation.)
What People Don’t Know
A crucial thing people don’t know about Jefferson is this: he was fully convinced that freedom in America was fatally wounded—in fact on its deathbed—by 1810 or so. He maintained that he and his fellow founders had blown their opportunity and that American freedom had already slipped away.
Now, since what I’ve written above will seem almost inconceivable to many Americans, let me back it up by quoting a few of Jefferson’s letters: