Curtis Dahlgren
Thomas Jefferson rolls out the "red carpet" for me at Monticello!
By Curtis Dahlgren
March 3, 2012

I THOUGHT I WAS IMAGINING THINGS. On a visit to Monticello the other day, I was the first tourist to arrive, and was greeted at the front door by ol' T.J. himself. "Howdy!" I said casually.

"Come on in," he said with a big smile. "I can use all the visitors I can get. How's your horse? Did he like the climb up the mountain?"

"Actually," I said, "my carriage has about 150 horses, an automatic transmission with overdrive, and a Garmin GPS system."

"One hundred and fifty horses?" he says. "What do you feed them on a trip?"

"Just gasoline," I said.

"Are you a comedian or something?" he says. "And what's this GPS thing?"

I was going to say 'you wouldn't understand' but you have to remember, I was talking to one of the most brilliant human beings who ever lived. "To make a long story short, it guides us to our destination." I said.

"We had that," he says. "But we didn't call Him Garmin."

I laughed and tried to change the subject:

"Have you been following the latest news in politics?" I asked.

"That I have," he says. "I was just talking to my neighbor James Madison the other day about the President. This guy seems different from all the rest we've had. Madison says that he plays the King cards like a man who has no aces. But I'll bet he has a lot of other 'tricks' up his sleeve."

"You got that right," I said. "He talks like a man who has a Plan B. Other than winning through an election, I mean."

"Are you serious?" Jefferson says. "We were always afraid that this could happen if the central government ever got too big."

"Exactly," I said. "He even told the Pope that he would have to pay for American abortions."

"WHAT?' says T.J. "Is he an ego maniac or what? Didn't he ever hear of the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment says . . . "

"Ha!" I interrupted. "His party says that the Constitution is so old that it's hard to perceive the original intent."

"But we explained ourselves over and over!" says Jefferson. "Haven't they ever read any of my letters? I must have written thousands of them."

"Eighteen thousand, I understand," I said. "But the only one they ever cite is the one about a wall of separation between church and state. They try to use that one to drive religious speech underground. Freedom of religion along with freedom of conscience are disappearing in this country."

"Well come on in," he says. "Don't stand out there in the cold."

I laughed and said, "This isn't cold. I'm from the upper peninsula of Michigan."

"Ah, the Northwest Territory," he says. "What brings you all the way down here?"

"I came to see your house," I said. "This and Mount Vernon. I was there yesterday."

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" he says. "I was talking to George the other day about your young President. But let's drop that subject and take a tour around my house."

Wow. This would have been a Top Ten lifetime highlight, with or without a personal guided tour by T.J. himself! We spent most of the morning in the library talking about John Locke and other great writers. I finally thanked him and said I'd better be going because I wanted to visit my brother in North Carolina. As we shook hands at the front entrance he asked me if I had any other questions.

I hesitated and said, "Well, I wasn't going to bring this up, but did you know that some people believe you fathered one or two of Sally Hemmings' children?"

"Who's spreading that rumor?" he asks, with a frown on his face.

"Your old friends in the press," I said.

"That figures," he says. "Those guys almost kept me out of the White House. And who knows what the United States would be like if that had happened."

"Exactly," I said. "Maybe the Louisiana Purchase wouldn't have gone through and Europe would own the majority of the country."

"Yes," he says. "And I understand that the Chinese are buying out a lot of it now."

With that he disappeared into thin air, and a chill went up my leg. I was off to North Carolina with my "150 horses." After visiting my nephew's house and my brother's, I went on to take a tour of the Vanderbilt mansion, Biltmore. Some of the 200 rooms there are five times bigger than my whole house. Very interesting.

One of the facts I didn't know before is that, like Washington and Jefferson, Mr. Vanderbilt considered himself a farmer! A house as big as a castle costs a lot to maintain, and the Vanderbilts paid for most of that by milking Jersey cows and selling milk in Asheville and beyond. Even "millionaires and billionaires" need a source of income you know.

P.S. At Mount Vernon I bought a book entitled "The Bulletproof George Washington" by David Barton. Before finishing it completely, I gave it to my nephew for his young daughters. There's a great misconception that history is boring to 21st century kids and teens, but that's not so if you know how to teach it!

My nephew read two of my columns that I printed to one of his daughters. One was my description of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan; the other was "George Washington goes into a bar and sits down beside me."

His nine-year-old said she liked the Washington story the best — so if you have young children or grandchildren, I suggest that you print that one out to read to them. You also ought to consider getting a copy of "The Bulletproof George Washington":

To contact David Barton or order a copy of this book write;

WallBuilder Press, PO Box 397

Aledo, TX., 76008 or call; 817-441-6044 (also availible at

PPS: If the memory of the American Revolution gets "deleted" from the minds of the up and coming generation, it won't be
their fault. It will only be OUR fault (don't count on the public school system to tell the old, old story).

© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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