Each April 13, Thomas Jefferson's birthday, should be a national holiday for taxpayers.
You deserve a holiday to fill out the tax forms the government requires and to reread the words Jefferson authored in America's Declaration of Independence, that King George III "has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance."
This should be a day to ponder that direct and hidden taxes now devour more than half of the typical working family's income, a confiscatory burden vastly heavier than what prompted the American Revolution against King George.
Jefferson knew how to deal with the pirates of the Potomac who hold our lives for ransom. As our third president, Jefferson said his proudest boast was that after his tax cutting, Americans no longer encountered tax collectors.
Jefferson unleashed U.S. Marines against Islamic Barbary pirates on the shores of Tripoli, winning respect for our brave young country that would pay millions for defense but not a cent for tribute.
Jefferson insisted that our Constitution include a Bill of Rights. He terminated the Alien and Sedition Acts under which his predecessor, John Adams (so loved by today's liberals), jailed dozens of journalists and three congressmen for the "crime" of criticizing government leaders.
Without Jefferson's pen, the American Revolution might have failed. He prevented America from becoming a Soviet-like totalitarian state, as happened under the French revolutionary terror and Napoleon.
He was, by almost every measure, a giant whose Enlightenment ideals continue to light our way. He "could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin," one historian recounted.
Jefferson, unlike most whites of his time, declared Native Americans to be the physical, moral, and mental equal of whites, not inferior in any way. Jefferson admired Indians, was friends with many (including Cherokee Chief Little Turtle), and developed lexicons which allowed him to hold basic conversation in 600 Native American languages and dialects. (He also could read, write, and speak Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, and Italian.)
Unlike later Canadians and Americans who deliberately gave Indians blankets infected with deadly smallpox, Jefferson the scientist sent the same early smallpox vaccine given to his family along with Lewis and Clark in an effort to protect the Indians they met from this white man's disease.
From his scientific analysis of Native American language and appearance, he was the first to deduce that their ancestors probably had migrated from Asia.
He headed the chief scientific society in the new United States. He had patent and copyright protections included in the Constitution. But he refused to patent his own useful inventions, such as a new kind of plow and a "hemp break" for processing cannabis into fiber for cloth, so that all could make and use them without cost or hindrance.
President John F. Kennedy told a roomful of Nobel Prize winners in 1962: "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
Jefferson was "the education president" who established the University of Virginia and with it the idea of public education available to all, although for him, the purpose of universal literacy was to ensure that future generations could read the pamphlets of future Tom Paines.
(Freedom, Jefferson wrote, required a revolution, peaceful or otherwise, in each new generation to constrain government's inevitable tendency to grow.)
And Jefferson was the founding father of environmentalism in his naturalist book, “Notes on the State of Virginia.”
You might think liberals would idolize him. But to the contrary, the Democratic Party that once celebrated Jefferson as its founder now wants him to vanish from our history.
In some parts of the country, Democrats no longer hold their traditional "Jefferson and Jackson dinners." These past presidents both owned slaves, as did George Washington.
(But Jefferson condemned the slave trade in his original draft of the Declaration, kept from slavery from spreading to the Northwest territories, and came within one vote in Congress of abolishing slavery with his legislation to phase it out of existence.)
Jefferson's real sin in the eyes of leftists was his opposition to big government. While pretending to oppose slavery, leftists are eager to enslave all of us.
The national holidays honoring Washington and Abraham Lincoln have been combined into "Presidents Day." Our only remaining holiday honoring a person is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Although giving federal employees a day off can cost $6 billion to $10 billion in lost "productivity," I would be willing to create 365 such holidays a year. Better to pay them not to harass or regulate us than to have busybody bureaucrats justifying their jobs by bothering us.
Jefferson specified that he be remembered for only three things on his tombstone: authoring the Declaration of Independence and Virginia Statue on Religious Freedom, and founding of the University of Virginia.
What he deemed too unimportant to mention was that he also had been a member of the Continental Congress, governor of Virginia, secretary of State, ambassador to France, vice president of the United States, and president of the United States for two terms.
Jefferson said he wished to be remembered not for what the people had done for him, but for what he had done for the people.
Light a candle to celebrate Thomas Jefferson's birthday tonight. Help your friends and children rediscover, remember, and explore his profound ideas.
Meditate on the fact that one of his first acts as president was to dispatch the warship USS Maryland to Europe to bring back Tom Paine, to help ignite a new revolution to restore human liberty in an America where it already was being lost by 1801.
Start thinking of fresh ways we can help kindle the revolution America needs today if it is to restore freedom. Happy Birthday, Tom.
Lowell Ponte is founder and chairman of the Jefferson's Birthday Committee.
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