Thomas Jefferson: Politics And Power

This program is rebroadcast from November 13, 2012.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham on lessons from the politics of Thomas Jefferson. What we can learn now.

Thomas Jefferson, by Rembrandt Peale (1805)

Thomas Jefferson, by Rembrandt Peale (1805)

Thomas Jefferson wrote the radical document at the heart of the American experiment.  The Declaration of Independence.  “All men are created equal.”  And he kept slaves.  He argued mightily against a too-powerful central government, and he led the federal government as the nation’s third president. He was a planter, a scientist, an historian, an Enlightenment-smitten philosopher, and – says biographer Jon Meacham – a surpassing politician.  With a flexibility that our politicians today could use. This hour, On Point:  Thomas Jefferson, the philosopher politician.

-Tom Ashbrook


Jon Meacham, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, his new book is “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The Washington Post “In ‘Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,’ Meacham, despite his subtitle, accomplishes something more impressive than dissecting Jefferson’s political skills by explaining his greatness, a different task from chronicling a life, though he does that too — and handsomely. Even though I know quite a lot about Jefferson, I was repeatedly surprised by the fresh information Meacham brings to his work. Surely there is not a significant detail out there, in any pertinent archive, that he has missed.”

The Wall Street Journal “For Election Day, we asked some leading historians and bestselling biographers what the Founding Fathers would have thought about this year’s presidential campaign between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.”

Note: Our Sample Copyright Exemption Has Expired Since This Program First Aired in 2012

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 30, 2015
United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres, center left, Minister of the Environment of Peru and COP20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, center right, and French Foreign Affairs Minister and COP 21 President Laurent Fabius, center, pose for photographers during a press visit to the COP21, Paris Climate Conference, site, in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

World leaders converge in Paris for the big climate talks. We’ll look at what it will take to get a global climate agreement.

Nov 30, 2015
Shoppers walks in front of a holiday display Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in San Francisco.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, we’ll add up the dollars and trends and bargains of the 2015 holiday shopping season.

Nov 27, 2015
The punk rock band Sleater-Kinney (from L: Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker) (Courtesy the Band)

Feminist punk-rockers, the band Sleater-Kinney, is with us. Reunited. Hotter than ever.

Nov 27, 2015
Josh Baldonado, an administrative assistant at Brown & Brown Insurance, works at a treadmill desk in the firms offices in Carmel, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP)

The end of sitting at work. A new call to get up off our chairs. To stand and move! We’ll look at how that works.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »