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The National Association of educational broadcasters presents another in the series of transcribed programs on the Jeffersonian heritage. The return of the Patriot starring Claude Raines as Thomas Jefferson. The way and here is noted biographer of Thomas Jefferson who is the consultant on this series. The you know seventeen hundred and eighty nine was fateful in human history in America. George Washington became the first president of the United States under the Constitution in France the revolution began which was still relatively orderly but was destined to shake the world. The American minister to that country Thomas Jefferson came home on
leave in the autumn in the old world he had drunk the fount of ancient culture to his delight and he had been able to be a personally disinterested philosopher and everybody's friend. This road suited his tastes admirably and to it he expected to return. Then after a bit. He expected to retire from all the vexations of public office and to live out his life usefully but quietly own his own lands and among his beloved books. When he set out from Paris he did not know that President Washington wanted him as his first assistant in the labors and vast responsibilities of the new national government. The president himself had had to sacrifice private preference to public duty when he regretfully left Mount Vernon for the temporary capital in New York and the success of the republic.
Depended on the willingness of other leaders of the purest patriotism to do likewise. Had Thomas Jefferson had more personal ambition and less sensitive nous of spirit the choice that he had to make when he came home would have been less difficult. But I minded man have often faced the same essential problem when answering calls to public safety is thus a personal episode in one man's life becomes a powerboat for his time and all of us. On November the 20th 1789 we disembarked at Norfolk Virginia. My daughters Patsy Polly and I and being greeted by the mayor. I was presented with what amounted to a fait accompli. I was welcomed as the new secretary of state of the United States.
Accepted the welcome was graciously noncommittally as I might not having officially heard of the appointment. And gravely Now do you know I should never accept it. A month later the day before Christmas Eve our carriage was winding up the long road that time to mount to China. Polly then eleven was asleep. Betsy was much much away. And so excited the park. Thank you it's. Very much. What you do. My excitement is middle aged and yours is 17 and mine is deeply rooted. I know I belong here. I am as happy nowhere else and in no other society and all my wishes and what I hope my days will end here at Monticello. Must you go back to France or go to New York.
I can be happier in France than anywhere else. Except in the privacy of home. I find my best happiness and the love of my family and the society of my neighbors in my fiction play every butt that opened. And every breath that blows around me. While I owe account to myself alone of all my hours and actions. All my solitary thoughts. And memory. Look excited. Here's Patsy you know the part in the road. White and there is no Sheila in King's You know it's good to see our people again. Some say that my slaves on hitch the horses and poured out cabbage the last ridge of the mountain.
My own memory is clouded from the moisture in my eyes that day. I do remember that they carried me into the house that I had. Some weeping some laughing some kissing my hands put on my protest. I love them and they called me a monster. No I did not like to be the last of slaves or anybody else. Thomas Jefferson would seldom speak of such a deeply emotional thing is this. He was a restrained man who talked least about the personal matters that moved him most. He loved his people as he called his slaves but it would have been unlike him to admit that his people loved him but he was a good master. Wondrous system he deplored but could not remedy. One other thing he would never have hinted at and that was that this home of his was haunted by the ghost of the person he had loved the most.
Seven years before in this place he had shared with his sister and sister in law the task of nursing his wife. You know her last illness but weeks afterward he was in a stupor of mind which as he said rendered him is dead to the world as she was whose loss occasioned it. Then for once he had wanted to get away from Montana. That was one reason he was so glad to go to France. And even now he may have wished you could again put the ocean between. Her and the scene of his most poignant experience. And a very Merry Christmas to you Dr. Goma. Colonel Monroe May we also present our sincere congratulations on your return to your native country as one of your new neighbors of Albemarle County. I feel honored to speak for very many of your neighbors who could not be here in your
persons. They are all here and welcome. I have an excellent cognac which I thought to ship ahead of me from France and for good neighbors. The time for that to be sure Mr. Jefferson. But a time for tribute. And now we should do violence to our feelings if we did not here and now offer you a testimonial of Aristide. Do do sit down gentlemen. Here we may stand said Mr. Jefferson at an early period of your life and a very critical ear of public affairs. We elected you our representative in the House of Burgesses. The controversy in which we were about to embark cold for the exertions of those citizens who were most distinguished for their wisdom integrity patriotism that stations your virtues and talents became known in your country. Let them always for what they are remain the property of my country. We should wound your feelings if we did tape of the acts of your public life of which we highly approve. We cannot
however becloud assuring you that we have been most happy to observe the strong attachment you have always shown the rights of all mankind and those institutions best calculated to preserve them. So America has still occasion for your services in the interest of our country and in the high respect we hold for your merit. We unite with a general voice that you enter into her highest councils. But gentlemen we referred of course to President Washington's invitation for you to become his first secretary of state under the new constitution. Dr. Gilman kind of Monroe I am just home after a long absence abroad. In all candor I have not yet given thought to public office in America who he know your love of study and retirement must strongly solicit you to avoid the glare confusion and exasperated into which public stations expose me. We know too that once you surrender your private life you
may be long exposed to the impertinence of a silly word that makes public office thankless sometimes and painful to sincere and modest man pain for perhaps a kind of man robot. Thanks yes I have been thanked the foundations of my being today and it is I who must be humbly grateful. Thank us best by putting us hopelessly in your debt. Tell President Washington that you accept the office of secretary of state. I must think. Let us then my dear friend. Whatever bow down to the general reason. Of society. We are.
Those the scratch of my pen to stab you Patsy. Come here a moment and read what I have edited. Now that the clumsy weather has edited Clemente you see that was a scold wasn't it. The proof is from manufacturers of noisy pen Quiros from overstriding keys. Yeah. My pride to dock to go to mine James Monroe. I watched Patsy 17. 10 and. I watch and saw no shadow in her eyes no photo of her bra. And I rejoiced in my writing and in the understanding of my daughter. You are the living token of her mother but my words were to her. Until almost the very end.
Wherever I may be stationed it will be my delight. Does that mean you're going to accept General Washington's appointment. Does not quite say that does it. It says wherever you may be stationed It does not accept any particular station. It seems a quibble to me. It makes allowance for a possible change of heart no more he accepts nothing now will you accept the appointment sometime. I do not know. This is where I really want to be this is the home of my heart and in my own hand. You and Polly were born here. This is where I want to live my days in peace and to die in peace. This is where I brought your mother. Snow desperately the light I brought to her. Yes. Carriage was delayed by the slower.
We arrived here but in late I didn't want to wake the household. We spent the night in one of the outbuildings. It's no desperate. But a fire kindly and I honeymooned house. This is home. This is peace and refuge from the desperation without. I dread public disapproval and criticism above all things here. I am rebuked for my failures only by the falling BOD or the sick oak tree. I belong here Patsy And next after this I love France. But I kept hidden and worked in silence and obscurity there. That will be Mr. James Monroe and Dr. Graham over there on set. What will you tell them what I have written. Let us then my dear friends whatever bow down to the general reason of
society. We are safe in that. Even in its deviations. But it soon returns again to the right way. These lessons we have learned together. We have prospered in their practice and your approval of my attachment to the general rights of mankind assures me we are still together in its kindred sentiments. Whatever I may be stationed it will be my delight to see in the general tide of happiness the joys to Flo's our unjust place and measure that it may flow through all time gathering strength as it goes and spreading the happy influence of reason and liberty over the face of the earth is my fervent prayer to Him. Is there an answer for President Washington in this Mr. Jefferson. I have written the president that it is not for any individual to choose his post. The president has to marshal us as may be best for the public good. The president is far too wise to have the decision thrust upon him. He has
remarked that the heat must make his own decision. So we must indeed. And so I shall. But it takes time. Debate. I still must consider. Oral all over with. Thomas Jefferson the first citizen of Albemarle did not yet know whether duty would lead but in the region of his birth this traveler just returned from a continent in the first throes of revolt against ancient oppression renewed his allegiance to the holy cause of freedom while announcing his undying faith in the sufficiency of human reason and his reliance on the will of the majority. Thomas Jefferson wrote more famous state papers but never won the battle summed up the philosophy by
which his feet were guided though he did not perceive it yet that was guidance for him here and now in his own words. He had resolved forever to bow down to the general reason of society. He might have reflected that this was voiced by George Washington who was so politely urging him to assume high office. The will of the majority also seem to point in the same direction. If there was not universal anxiety that he accept this post as somebody said all his friends seem determined to get him into the new government. Among the most cherished of these was James Mattis. Father of the Constitution. If anybody or. Her. Or. My answer is the same Mr Madison as it was directed to me when I was still in France
I wrote you and replied to your soundings about my taking office in America. I remember of course I told you. That when I quit my present job as a Minister to France I would accept no other one of its main advantages is that I can do its duties unseen by those for whom I do them. You have had an ocean voyage between them time to change your mind. My decision remains the same but he also is an opportunity for high service to which people like you are bound by tradition and training. In all sincerity I feel that my debt of service to my country has been faithfully paid. I have been in public service some 20 years to the deep and dangerous neglect to my own affairs. No positive engagement binds me to further service I am pledged by no act nor have I pledged my country in any enterprise that I should see it through. I have not committed my friends.
Even your enemies few as they are do not pretend live. I stand clear of their love. Further public responsibility on all points. I am troubled Mr Jaggers and you did not always think like this. Service was always a high obligation with you without qualification. Age experience and reflection of set as high a value on personal tranquility. You will not reconsider. I thought deeply on it. Duty is out of the question. It is not out of the question. If I could but go on in a strict but silent performance of my duty as I did in France avoiding all notice and keeping my name out of the newspaper Believe me I find the pain of a little censure even when it is unfounded. Far more acute than the pleasure of praise. I can best the secretaryship of state would spell the ruin of all your
privacy. I should be a blind boy Rheumatology in full heart if you were the world and the target for every mischievous mistletoe flung at me to strike me lifeless border perhaps a target surely but blind. No sir the president does not select his advisors from a squinting band of moles and bats. Thank you Mr. Madison. But you will decline the appointment but let it be courteously and gratefully to the president himself in my own way. Still I waited. Still I defer and temporize and hoped the president would make the decision that it rent my soul to make. Great Free I turned to the manager patsy for a moment and domesticity
to hold the affairs about that bag along. Patty's marriage was an important domestic event wholly unrelated to public affairs. I spoke to Patty about her matter she listened sweetly and attentively and as I spoke I had an image of another bride coming home to money long ago in snow and darkness to a kindly sweetness of temper affection to a husband and attention to his interests. These Patsey are the duties of a wife. These form the foundation of domestic felicity. And last thing happened the charms of beauty in the brilliancy of wit though they may captivate in the mysteries were not long delight in the wife play something for me not something gentle.
Had she played for a bit. While I walked the room I had erected to surround our lives and show to them. A nation and its great first president stood outside the wards and asked for the decision. But a nation to his and pointing fingers and voices harsh with controversy contradictions blame a nice old wrist like quiet study memory. Decide the nation told me so said the president. So decide how
Secretary of State the United States of America. What would Martha have counseled. What would she say. The Missouri River is if I remember right. You're pretty. Oh you were a very serious young man. You copied out one of those quotations one. Your repartee. So you told me. I remember now how did it go to be of the noble born. It gives a peculiar distinction clearly marked among men the noble name increases in lust in those who are worthy young men remember. Oh you are a serious young man but very young with young Lucian. Be worthy of your privileges.
True but that too was a youthful fancy and what was it not a fancy of you. True it was that other thing. There is a natural Let us talk with power rather than mans that is stuck in a sea of wealth and birth and the obligation of talent and virtue is just what I have I would gladly serve again if I could do so in tranquillity. Years ago when I was alive we went through WILLIAMS But I remember the Virginia legislature it was then you didn't want to go. I was feared to leave me. Yes you went. Yes although I was your wife I was only one person and the new
nation was many and youth is farther than that and they used to view it copied ringing phrases on nobility and due to return to public controversy and strife perhaps to die in the traces far from home in the big graves of all my loved ones. What if I take this critical step I must walk and walk and walk until the blood fall is at last and mortal things are done with the noble name increases enough to know where I will go to New York to die at last in squalor of so just to the last in honor and the gratitude of the desperate. To most without the peace within. Never that. Nevertheless you know desperately the night you brought me.
Desperately. The refuge was sweeter because of the two along with you. Yes. Good night. Good night. Yes. Alright. This was not the first time that this high minded and excessively sensitive man had faced a choice between private preference and public duty and it was not to be the last one. In France far from the public that he said he would have been much safer from the public criticism and controversy that he dreaded. And if he had returned to his post
there he might have retired much sooner than he actually did. He might never become a national party leader a president of the United States. He might have avoided the strife and vilification of those later Yaz which wasa past his worst forebodings often he wanted to turn back and sometimes he tried to. But there could be no realists Kapor one who linked with the individual ism of his philosophy a high sense of personal responsibility for the public good. The republic was not always grateful as the equally sensitive George Washington also found out to his sorrow. But Thomas Jefferson left it more than a body of elevated ideas and fine phrases. He laughed at the record of a lifetime of devoted public service.
Perhaps this is his finest legacy to his country. I am ready to serve Mr. President. You have just heard the return of a patriot. Another in the series on the Jeffersonian heritage following plans of the noted historian and biographer Humam a long and prepared with his counsel authentic and historical spirit while imaginative inform these programs dramatize ideas which oddly and during possession of all
American and all free people. Today's program starring Claude Rains was written by Milton Geiger. With special music composed and conducted by Vladimir silence. This program was produced and directed by Frank Patton. Listen next week for another in this series of programs on the Jeffersonian heritage. These programs are prepared by the National Association of educational broad.
The Jeffersonian heritage
Return of a patriot
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program dramatizes Thomas Jefferson's return to the United States from his time in France.
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: Geiger, Milton
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-23-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
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Chicago: “The Jeffersonian heritage; Return of a patriot,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
MLA: “The Jeffersonian heritage; Return of a patriot.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 23, 2024. <>.
APA: The Jeffersonian heritage; Return of a patriot. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from