Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 21 September 2007

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

The Virginia Homes of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe

Thomas Jefferson was the Leonardo DaVinci of American Presidents. He spoke and read seven languages. He studied astronomy and botany and recorded temperatures, barometer readings and rainfalls throughout his life. Jefferson invented the principles of scientific archeology in excavating nearby Virginia Indian mounds. He was selected to write the American Declaration of Independence.

“…when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Jefferson wrote over 20,000 letters and used a device called a polygraph to make a personal copy of each letter. The polygraph looks like a dual pen that uses a mechanical link to write an extra copy. His personal library at his death had over 7,000 volumes in seven languages, which were sold to satisfy his debts. Jefferson cosigned and guaranteed debts of many friends and died bankrupt as the result of his public service.

Jefferson was 6 feet, 3 inches tall. He supports my thesis that truly superior men are tall and that other positive human characteristics, like intelligence and compassion, are highly correlated with stature. Look at Bin Laden and Charles De Gaulle. Napoleon is the exception that proves my rule.

Jefferson is reported to have spent nearly 40 years designing and building his plantation home, Monticello. His intensive readings of European architectural books as well as his time as minister of France gave him a familiarity and love of European architecture, including the dome of the Parthenon in Rome. His garden had a large bumblebee today.

Jefferson authorized the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon. This nearly doubled the size of America for only $15,000,000. He sent Lewis and Clarke on one of the most incredible journeys of discovery in history. Jefferson charged the expedition with a responsibility to bring back botanical discoveries and keep detailed journals and maps.

James Monroe owned an adjacent plantation. Monroe was a young 2nd Lieutenant and scout who crossed the Delaware river in 1776 ahead of Washington and got a musket ball in the shoulder for his trouble. He carried the bullet, lodged in an artery, to his death. Monroe was 6 feet, 2 inches tall. He also served as Minister to France.

All the best American Presidents have had serious military experience.

Jefferson brought Monroe along politically as a successor. Monroe was Secretary of War in 1812 when Washington was burned by the British. Jefferson was the President.

Monroe’s house was modest compared to Jefferson’s. His garden had an Eastern swallowtail butterfly today. Monroe called his house a “cabin-castle” because the very ordinary exterior contained many decorative treasures from France.

Monroe’s most famous writing is the Monroe Doctrine which basically says, “You Europeans keep your hands off the new world and we won’t get involved in the “broils” of Europe”. Good plan. I’m sure Monroe would have also included the Middle East and Asia, if he could have even conceived such bizarre possibilities.


  1. Interestingly Bob, there have been a few studies that show a correlation between height and importance. CEO's are a tall lot, by and large. However what is believed is that people unconsciously associate physical stature with leadership ability, irrespective of whether it is justified or not. It's called the Warren Harding Error, after a tall, but not particularly great, US president.

  2. LOL...Sounds like another of those self-evident truths.