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The National Association of educational broadcasters presents the first in the series of transcribed programs on the Jeffersonian heritage living declaration starring Claude Raines as Thomas Jefferson. Said. My name is Thomas Jefferson.
The tender grass of one hundred twenty five spring time as waves green across my grave. Yet there is no great merit in the dead years. Others are longer dead than I. The dead are nothing. The dead are dead. A grave is so much earth and flesh in time. Becomes a pebble. What endures is a man's thought. The surviving idea. The living truth in him which is never eaten by worms. And if I have given you something of truth. Do not thank me for it. For no idea is any man's exclusive property nor does any man possess less of it because other men possess all of it. He who receives an idea from me but receives instruction himself without lessening mine as he who lights his candle at my candle receives light without darkening me.
And how much better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. And. I left word writing a play in it so there could be no editor I wrote chose for the stone on my way of some close order not Iraq. Something native in play that no one might be tempted to destroy for the value of the material and upon this stone inscribed own name. Yeah I was vetted.
Thomas Jefferson author of the Declaration of American independence of the statute of a junior for religious freedom. And Father of the University of Virginia. Because by these testimonials that I have lived I wish most to be remembered. I would speak knowledge of. The declaration of American independence. On a May Day in the 1776 I knocked upon the Philadelphia door. Let Mer do for you. Is this the house of Jacob Graff the bricklayer. It is. I am married to his wife. I was told it might be a parlor and bedroom which could be left to me. I seek
lodgings Who are you. My name is Jefferson. What are you Mr. Jefferson. A delegate to the Continental Congress. And your business there to promote rebellion. Then there will be a price on your head. Why should we let you in. Madame do you so suspect and cross-examine every one who knocks at your door. These are not ordinary times. There are wild rumors and strange happenings in Philadelphia. You have not answered my question. Why should we give you lodging here. I will pay you. Others might pay as well. Lodgings are scarce in Philadelphia. You must give a better reason. American farmers lie dead at Lexington and Concord. That is true and across the ocean a British king sits pampered and fat. What do you know of the British king or any king. I know the livestock on my farm madam. Take any old race of animals in breed them confine them in idleness pamper them with high diet gratifying appetites not wish their passions.
Let everything bend before them and banish whatever might lead them to think. And in a few generations. Yes they become all body and no mind. You do not like King. I do not mistress cried especially George that specially George the Third. And would the Frenchman be any better. Louis you know he is of what King would you have thought the American colonies no king. There is not a crowned head in Europe whose talents all merits would entitle him to be appointed a justice of the peace in Philadelphia. My husband will be delighted to hear that you may come in Mr. Jefferson. These be good enough to write. Thirty five shillings a week to go do you know Mr. Graff it is a good house.
What baggage will you bring. Not much. John Milton Isaac Newton John Locke. Oh no you object madam. The Paula and bedroom will be led only to a single gentleman we do not give lodging to a whole company. Mistress. What man alive is not a whole company. I am my grandfather's creed my father's prejudice my own descent from each. Here I show you my baggage read this note book. Why not read my baggage madam. I believe my notes are legible. If for the people who do have a king pleaded as an act of God why should not the people's rejection of a king be pleaded also as an act of God. Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. And this last is from Dr. Franklin Mary that sounds fair enough to agree with your husband Mrs. Graf. Possibly. Then let us read what follows more baggage. The sentiments of John Locke philosophy begin here.
Mr. GRAEF the state of nature has a law to govern it and reason which is that teaches all mankind that being equal and independent no one ought to harm another in his life liberty or possession. This is the sort of baggage I bring. Man is born free and is everywhere in chains. I read of where you solve your riddle here in this house Mr. Jefferson. But at least I would begin here. Mary we have a larger show Mr. Jefferson his room. He has not told us whether he's a man of good habits. What do you wish to know Madam are you temperate. I drink wine but no spirits. You use tobacco. I do not madam. You are blocking us then. I do not think so. Vegetables constitute my principle. Then of course you must be a late riser and I cannot abide the late rising each morning I rise at dawn and bathe my feet in cold water. Is there something else madam I should be happy to
answer. Do you believe in God. Schorling mistress Graf. This is a matter between God and me. What is your denomination now. We have it. The vicious poisonous fatal query. Very well. I have no formal creed. I belong to no party and other political religious not philosophical. If I could not go to heaven but with a party I would not go there at all. Be careful Mr. Jefferson you risk damnation no mistress Graf. I believe that God approves the open homage of reason rather than the blindfolded homage of fear and superstition I believe. Excuse me I'm afraid I bore you. I was thinking it might be time to make your rooms ready. I must tell you Mr. Jefferson. You frighten me a little.
You have no say. Then you have misunderstood me. I believe in God and have faith in reason. I have faith in the truth. I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. And now all of us. I came to the home of Jacob and Mary Grier bearing the baggage of my inheritance the legacy of John Long and I salute you and Sir Francis Bacon transported to the house of a Philadelphia bricklayer the child of immigrants. A good house in which to compose an American Declaration. Do not be awed by this circumstance. Some men look at constitutions and
declarations with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the Ark of the covenant too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human. I knew that age well. I belonged to it. I labored with it. It deserved well of its country and of you. But what it did is not beyond Amendment. I remind you the Earth belongs always to the living generation the Earth belongs not to dead men but to you. In the month of June you 1776 delegate John Dickinson came to my lodgings. He came to plead. He came asking a troubled question. Tell me Jefferson is it true is what true Mr. Dickinson that tomorrow Congress receives a Virginia
resolution declaring the colonies free and independent states that information is correct. You must prevent the adoption of the resolution. Why I believe in the resolution. You believe in a lie. As you wish you believe in Paris sighed. If you say so the court between the mother country and America must not be severed. We must not dissolve our political connections with the British Crown. Jefferson Do you hear me and distinctly Well do you sit there like a Stone Speak tell me I'm wrong. Fight me curse me call me Tory a scoundrel a coward blackguard but don't just sit there argue with me. And Dr. Benjamin Franklin has given as his invariable rule never to contradict anyone. I am no Don Quixote to bring all men by force of argument to one opinion. Each man has the inalienable right to be wrong. I could smash your face for that that my daughter my fleece but not my opinion.
Jefferson listen I shout at the top of my lungs. The colonies and the crown must not separate they must conciliate. When.
A declaration does not happen of itself. The egg from which it is born comes to ripen yourself to a long fertilizing the seed which germinates it. A more ancient spelling that I was talking more distant than Moses going forth out of Egypt as antecedent as Adam the first father. This is enough to form a thing. I like the dreams of the future. Better than the history of the postes. Lol. In the month of June 76 our great debate challenge the delegates to the Second Continental Congress debates over the resolution
or breaking of ties with the country and the debate. I was instructed to prepare a declaration and the arguments against its writing fell upon me. That declaration means war. Yes Mr. Livingston in fact at war worse revolution as you pronounced the word Livingston and as it is in fact it is a bit out yet for us must always be left as a possibility. But the redress of grievances speak like Sam Adams and these messages it's demagogue. I speak for myself. The intolerable thing in life is coercion. Only when coercion is you can force be justified. For years now we have been asked by George the Third. Enough years and enough coercion perhaps there is still time to negotiate our differences. Can you negotiate with someone who will not listen. Yes the thought of revolution is a part of it but a revolution means getting control of your own affairs.
And THAT my friend is not apartment. The world is on fire. Jefferson how can you write so calmly. You mean so rudely. Forgive me Dickenson I forget my manners. Each word of dissolution you write is as final and as irrevocable as death. Death is always the chance of life. These are the wrong words. The welcome still be resolved by words of conciliation. Once your declaration is written conciliation becomes impossible. Only war is left and remember we are not colonies strong and united for we are divided. Division doesn't trouble me. There can be no victory without absolute
unity only in the grave. Is that absolute and unity. The free mind is suffocated by unanimity. Difference is the healthy living thing in the name of Heaven Jefferson What are you putting down on that paper. A political declaration or a philosophical treatise. Both What is important in this paper Mr. Dickinson is as much what is left unspoken as what he said. Let us proclaim that the enemy is tyranny over the mind of man. Let us fly out a cannon against the jailers of all ages. The intellectual prison keepers the civil magistrates and the religious zealots who enforce their dogmas upon those unwilling to receive them. Let us say to them. Whose foot is to be the measure to which I was only to be cut or stretched. Not your foot not any man support or stamp or imprimatur.
This. Is the meaning of the declaration. This is what lives in the declaration. I belong to you together with the earth you inhabit. The words did not die but every generation spawns its own top. Now for other words against the Torah and the Masters and legislatures and give them no peace.
And having done this much such out and reconsider the words for yourself and give yourself no peace. Of conscience let men stop avoiding and allow themselves to confront the truth. Look at the motion of your blog. Keep time of the tumult of the world in the years of my life. I spoke softly never raising my voice to shout. Now in the long season of my death I would shout I would cry out from the grass that covers me. Listen in the name of your immortality listen to the meaning of the declaration. Mr. Jefferson I told them you were writing they insisted on coming in all right. Mistress forgive us we are importunate and I will come but we come for one last week. Yours may be awful but the British crown that does something and not break us away from the mother country. Later perhaps but not now why not now. Because we
are too young Mr. Jefferson. We are insufficiently mature. Exactly we are like a young child who wishes to disown the parent's hand. A parent who is shielded as every protected us at every turn. Mr. Jefferson there is a time to be free and a time to be protected. I am authorized by Congress to write a declaration against protection. I am empowered to announce a Latin phrase. So we tutor. I paralysed liberty to quiet so that you write what you want to write this is not what you were asked or I was asked to write a declaration of no dependence to demand from the American people responsibility over their own lives. That is no freedom without responsibility. That is no freedom without danger to be on one's own no one to hold your hand no king no parliament no legislature. Gentleman this is a struggle
for the right to be in secure. July 1776 I said before mankind the common sense of the sun. Nothing new. The principles written down were not original with me how could they be. These were the thoughts of aspiring to something better. No new arguments merely what had been said many times before. All arguments and reasonable perhaps. Perhaps one of the arguments was a little too reasonable. Oh of course you know it will have to come out. I know nothing of the sort. Come Jefferson even you must realize that the slave trade cannot be condemned. Says that South Carolina and Georgia I will convince them I am granting the miracle that
you could not convince me and I am a Massachusetts a slave trade convicts us all before the civilized world the best it does I know it does because my own hands are not paid their own slaves in my own Virginia on my plantation. My servant in Philadelphia is a negro slave I tremble for myself and for my country when I reflect that God is just. But his justice cannot sleep forever. But don't say a word about the slave trade in your declaration would you have me a hypocrite I would have you a sensible man who understands that one thing must be done at one time that it is immoral to sacrifice things that are possible and good in pursuit of something which is impossible now. I have heard that voice before reasonable or kindly friendly tolerant and always compromising with justice. You know what a harsh man or of a genius because I want it for the journey and for the South to see one half of our citizens trample on the
rights of the other half to have our children study their fathers while other human beings studying their tyranny imitating their tyranny noticed uneducated and daily exercised in tyranny. Can a declaration for freedom be written and say nothing about that. Well why don't you both north and south traders make that profit from the slaves at the time Jefferson. The rest must wait for later. I shall write a paragraph against the slave trade. Then we shall break your heart. North and south it goes in is a specific thing it is not a state of mind. It is not what you preach but what you do. We dare not begin upon a compromise. This is also there is no point.
You will see Congress will vote. I saw that it was the I am with. The AS. Was. In the gray area a man is how to stop in the gray human passion subside and judgment is an eternity. It was true the colonies were ready for political emancipation and for no more announce our national origin attended by much good but also continuing and announcing it. Ask yourself how far
you have traveled in one hundred and seventy six years but almost always to the living generation. Your generation. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness that to secure these rights Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have just heard the living declaration the first in a series on the
Jeffersonian hearing following minds of the noted historian and biographer and prepared with his counsel authentic and historical spirit while imaginative and far. These programs dramatize ideas which are the enduring possession of all American and all free people. Today's programme starring Claude Rains was written by Morton with special music composed and conducted by Vladimir Symonds the ballad singer was Tom Glaser. This program was produced and directed by Frank listen next week for another in this series of programs on the Jeffersonian heritage. These programs are repaired and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters.
The Jeffersonian heritage
The living declaration
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on Thomas Jefferson and his role in the creation of the Declaration of Independence.
Series Description
This series dramatizes the ideas of Thomas Jefferson, which are"the enduring possessions of all Americans and all free peoples," while being "authentic in historical spirit" and "imaginative in form."
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Actor: Rains, Claude, 1889-1967
Advisor: Malone, Dumas, 1892-1986
Composer: Schmidt, Karl
Conductor: Solinsky, Vladimir
Director: Papp, Frank, 1909-1996
Producer: Papp, Frank, 1909-1996
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Subject: Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Writer: Wishengrad, Morton, 1913-1963
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-23-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
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Chicago: “The Jeffersonian heritage; The living declaration,” 1976-08-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “The Jeffersonian heritage; The living declaration.” 1976-08-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: The Jeffersonian heritage; The living declaration. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from