American Sphinx – The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis

Just finished this biography of Thomas Jefferson. It’s one of those biographies that focus less than I’d prefer on the facts of Jefferson’s life and more on what the author thinks about Jefferson, or what the author thinks Jefferson might have thought.

Jefferson was a real weirdo, my kind of guy. Walked around singing to himself all the time. So shy he couldn’t speak in front of large groups, so instead wrote all his ideas down, which was good for history but must have been frustrating for his contemporaries. Two terms as president and almost never spoke to Congress, and not often with his own cabinet.

Bummer to learn that the “small government” and “states rights” mumbo-jumbo GOP-speak started with Jefferson. At least Jefferson held these ideas because he was afraid of a return of a monarchy, not because he wanted shut down government assistance programs.