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Jefferson died long ago, but may of his ideas still of great interest to us.
Lessons from Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, may be less famous than George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but most people remember at last one fact about him: he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
Although Jefferson lived more than 200 years ago, there is much that we learn from him today. Many of his ideas are especially interesting to modern youth. Here are some of the things he said and wrote:
Go and see. Jefferson believed that a free man obtains knowledge from many sources besides books and that personal investigation is important. When still a young man, he was appointed to a committee to find out whether the South Branch of the James River was deep enough to be used by large boats. While the other members of the committee sat in the state capitol and studied papers on the subject, Jefferson got into a canoe and made on-the-spot-observations.
You can learn from everyone. By birth and by education Jefferson belonged to the highest social class. Yet, in a day when few noble persons ever spoke to those of humble origins except to give an order, Jefferson went out of his way to talk with gardeners, servants, and waiters. Jefferson once said to the French nobleman, Lafayette, "You must go into the people's homes as I have done, look into their cooking pots and eat their bread. If you will only do this, you may find out why people are dissatisfied and understand the revolution that is threatening France."
Judge for yourself. Jefferson refused to accept other people's opinions without careful thought. "Neither believe nor reject anything," he wrote to his nephew, "because any other person has rejected or believed it. Heaved has given you a mind for judging truth and error. Use it."
Jefferson felt that the people "may safely be trusted to hear everything true and false, and to form a correct judgment. Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
Do what you believe is right. In a free country there will always be conflicting ideas, and this is a source of strength. It is conflict and not unquestioning agreement that keeps freedom alive. Though Jefferson was for many years the object of strong criticism, he never answered his critics. He expressed his philosophy in letters to a friend, "There are two sides to every question. If you take one side with decision and on it with effect, those who take the other side will of course resent your actions."
Trust the future; trust the young. Jefferson felt that the present should never be chained to customs which have lost their usefulness. "No society," he said, "can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs to the living generation." He did not fear new ideas, nor did he fear the future. "How much pain," he remarked, "has been caused by evils which have never happened! I expect the best, not the worst. I steer my ship with hope, leaving fear behind."
Jefferson's courage and idealism were based on knowledge. He probably knew more than any other man of his age. He was an expert in agriculture, archeology, and medicine. He practiced crop rotation and soil conservation a century before these became standard practice, and he invented a plow superior to any other in existence. He influenced architecture throughout America, and he was constantly producing devices for making the tasks of ordinary life easier to perform.
Of all Jefferson's many talents, one is central. He was above all a good and tireless writer. His complete works, now being published for the first time, will fill more than fifty volumes. His talent as an author was soon discovered, and when the time came to write the Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia in 1776, the task of writing it was his. Millions have thrilled to his words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…"
When Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American independence, he left his countrymen a rich legacy of ideas and examples. American education owes a great debt to Thomas Jefferson, Who believed that only a nation of educated people could remain free.
n. document containing an open public announcement 宣言
n. freedom from the control of others 独立
vt. get through effort 获得
n. place from which sth. comes; place where a river starts （来）源；源头
a. done in person; belonging to a person 亲自的；个人的
n. detailed or careful examination 调查
vt. put (sb.) in a position 任命
n. a group of people chosen for special duties 委员会
n. light boat moved by a paddle 独木舟
a. at the place of the action 现场的
a. low in position 地位低下的
n. parentage; birth; beginning 血统；出身；起源
n. person who works in a garden either for pay or as a hobby 园丁
n. person who serves food to the tables in a restaurant （男）侍者
vt. hang over dangerously; utter a threat against 使不满
vt. hang over dangerously; utter a threat against 威胁
vt. refuse to take, believe, use of consider 拒绝
n. the son of one's brother or sister
n. mistake; sth. done wrongly
a. not true or correct
n. opinion 判断， 看法
vi. feel doubtful; be undecided 犹豫，迟疑不决
vt. like better; choose (one thing) rather than (another) 更喜欢；宁愿
a. nearer to the end 后面的；后半的
n. the second of two persons or things just spoken of 后者
n. be opposed; clash 冲突
n. disagreement; clash; fight
a. given or done without question or doubt
n. having the same opinion(s); thinking in the same way 同意；一致的
n. unfavourable remarks of judgments 批评
n. person who makes judgments about the good and bad qualities of sth.; person who points out mistakes 评论家；批评者
vt. feel angry or bitter at 对...忿恨;对...不满
n. the process of doing things; sth. done 行动过程；行动
a. never-ending; going on for a long time or without stopping 永恒的;连续不断的
a. alive now 活(着)的
vt. say; comment 说;评论说
n. sth. bad; sin 邪恶,罪恶
a. very bad 邪恶的,坏的
n. study of ancient things, esp. remains of prehistoric times 考古学
n. protecting from loss of from being used up 保护;保存
a. good or better in quality or value 较好的;优的
n. the state of existing 存在
vt. have an effect on 影响
n. art and science of building 建筑术;建筑学
ad. continuously; frequently 不断地;经常地
vt. do, carry out 做,履行
n. special natural ability 才能,天资
a. chief; main; most important 主要的
a. never or rarely getting tired
n. a person who writes esp. as a way of earning money 作家
vt. have (a book, etc.) printed and put on sale 出版
n. book, esp. one of a set of books 卷;册
vi. have a very exciting feeling 非常激动
a. clear without proof 不言而喻的
vt. make (sth. that has not been made before) 创造
n. the yearly return of a special date 周年纪念日
n. a person from one's own country 周胞
n. sth. that one person leaves to another when he dies 遗产
n. something owed to someone else 债(务)
vt. train; teach how to read, write, think, etc.
PHRASES & EXPRESSIONS
go out of one's way (to do sth.)
take particular trouble; make a special effort 特地
leave sb. in charge of 交托,委托
act according to 按照...行事
abandon; fall to take or bring 丢弃;留下,忘带
most important of all 首先,尤其是
the Declaration of Independence
the James River