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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

[three trumpeters play “Hail to the Chief”] Washington: Rather monarchical, wouldn’t you say? But certainly appreciated. It is indeed my great honor to have the opportunity to be with all of you here this eve and to hopefully engage you in discourse. I look forward to a little bit later in this evening when we shall be able to take some questions from you because there is no more important thing for the Chief Magistrate for the nation than to entertain the questions and curiosities and conundrums of his fellow citizens. I must also tell you that I’m greatly honored to be here in the Northwest Territories, which is curious to me, considering I don’t think I’ve ever been beyond Ohio Valley before. Do you have any idea how many days it took me to ride out here? But that is a conversation for another time. For now, we are honoring the Constitution of these United States of America. Of course, the Constitution is the document that fulfills the promise that was made by our Declaration of American Independence. But I will also tell you that my mind spins back to an even earlier time. Mrs. Washington will tell you that, depending on how one looks at the coin, I am either blessed or cursed. And that is because I tend to remember everything. For example, I remember being a very loyal and happy British subject. Now that might be surprising to many of you, but it was the case. We had all the rights and privileges and franchises of Englishmen – at least those that were important to us – and our lordly masters in Great Britain pretty much left us alone here in British America, the American colonies, for nigh on 150 years, going back to the 1600s. I was such a loyal subject that I served His majesty. I fought for king and country during the Seven Years War, although it had a bit of a different name here in British America. You know the name – the French and Indian War. I actually served as an officer in the Virginia regiment. I was hailed a hero, although, truth be told, what much of what I was hailed a hero for came out of the brash acts of being such a youthful officer. I wrote to one of my brothers, a younger brother, after a battle I had led against the French. I wrote, “I have heard the bullets whistle and believe me, there is something charming in the sound.” That comment made it all the way back to the King of England himself. The King of England said that if Colonel Washington – I was a colonel at the time – “if Colonel Washington,” he said, “had been hit by that bullet, his attitude would have been very different.” Ultimately, the British were successful in kicking out the French from North America, from what we clearly saw as British land. But, before I resigned my commission as Commander in Chief of all the forces of Virginia, I would be struck. Struck by the manner in which our lordly masters, and particularly, the British military aristocracy, felt and treated American colonials. Do you know that as a colonel in the Virginia regiment, my orders could be overturned by a lieutenant in the British regular army? This was my first understanding of the arrogance of our British lordly masters. But, it was soon forgotten. I married a fine and good lady, the widow of Colonel Daniel Custis – Martha Dandridge Custis. On 12th night 1759, she became Mrs. Washington. We had sixteen uninterrupted years at Mount Vernon. She will refer to as the “golden years.” And then everything changed in 1764. My life would be turned upside-down. I would be yanked out of the life of a Virginia gentleman farmer and thrust into a world, a storm that no one could have ever predicted. What caused that change?

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

You see, it is really very simple. The king, in 1764, opens up his treasury and sees it is nigh on empty. He has a fit. He turns to his ministers, tells them to do something about it. They put their heads together and they suggest the following to the King of England: “Your majesty, we have just finished fighting a very expensive war against the French. Most of the cost of that war was incurred in British America, in the colonies. Let us turn to the American colonies. We will refill your counting room.” That was a brilliant idea on face value. The problem is, however, that our lordly masters did not understand us in America a wit. And the second problem is they tried to achieve their means with an iron fist forced down our throats. I do not need to recount for you the eleven years of systematic tyranny, the stripping of our liberties, the usurpation of our freedoms, the constant reaching in to our purses. Ultimately, we can stand it no longer. Gentleman from thirteen separate countries come together – and it is critical to your understanding of all these events that you are clear about the fact that were absolute strangers to each other. You could spend your entire life in your country of Virginia and never set foot of Maryland or the country of North Carolina. We come together and one thing leads to another to the point where we agree to raise up arms against our kin, something that no colony in the history of humankind had ever done successfully. And we were going to do it against the most powerful fighting force in the entire world – the British Army and the British Navy. I also do not need to tell you about the outcome of that great and glorious contest. I will simply tell you that when I was commissioned as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army of the United Colonies of America – we would not declare independence for thirteen months – I wrote a letter to my beloved Mrs. Washington. I told her, after enclosing a copy of my will, that I would be home for Christmas Eve. Wrote the letter in mid-June of 1775. I would be home for Christmas Eve. I did not tell her which one. I literally walked across the threshold of our home at Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve eight and a half years later without ever taking a single day’s furlough during the entire war of American Independency. We as a people raise up this nation. We are successful, we defeat the British. And then we had to ask ourselves what kind of country we should be. Make no mistake about it – there were a wide range of options in the billions, including those who wanted to make me what? The king. King George I of America. You can understand this thinking, can you not? At the time that we declare our American Independency on July 2, 1776 – I’m getting some looks here. You do know that the question of our independence was voted upon on July 2, 1776. It was adopted on July 4, 1776, read to the public on the 8th. Mr. John Adams said, “July 2 will long be remembered in this country with parades and illuminations.” Well, he was only off by two days. But at the time we declare our American Independency and again at the time that we ratify our Constitution, we are the only country in the entirety of this world – the only country on earth – that is not under the control of men and women of absolute power. Every other nation on the planet is under the control of kings and queens, and lords and ladies and sheiks and viziers and maharajas and mikados and emperors – even a czarina. We alone raise up a nation of laws that ultimately empowers all of its people. And those laws are embodied in the Constitution of the United States of America. That is what we are here to remember. I thought you would find this evening interesting as we engage, not only in discourse with ourselves where you can see, as Mr. Jefferson calls it, “the dynamic tension” that exists in this great experiment of ours. But, that we are able to hear from you as well.

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

My friends, it is at this time, my greatest honor and privilege to introduce to you my Minister of Foreign of Affairs. You would call him the Secretary of State. And from what I have been told – although I find it bewildering – the gentleman who actually served as the third President of these United States, Mr. Thomas Jefferson. Please. You are looking well, Thomas. Jefferson: And I thank you, your Excellency. You yourself, indeed, resplendent as always in your uniform. And please know, regardless of what high office I may have retained, I continue to remain your humble and obedient servant. Washington:

Thank you, sir. Please.

Jefferson: Good evening, citizens. Ah – they are there! What a delight it is to have the opportunity to follow his Excellency so far into the western territories. And to what your Excellency recall, we have always called Western Virginia. Where would we be without the Great Lakes and that particular one of Michigan. Citizens, I look forward to our confabs this evening. Our confabulations, our conversation upon any subject that you would delight to put forth for our gentle interests. Indeed, the conversation provided by your questions – an open and free inquiry. That has always been my greatest delight and one we must never ever shun as the American citizen because it is the public conversation, it is the public argument, it is the public debate more than anything else which shall continue to preserve, protect and defend our natural rights. And I hope we well understand that these are the rights that are given to us and I mean not only as Americans. These are the rights that are given to the family of man across this globe. Not by any government and not by any ruler. These are the rights that are given to mankind by nature and nature’s God. So how well we incur his labor and engage his benevolence. When we engage these rights – oh, rescue us Lord if we do not – then, as history has shown, we may lose. So I welcome your questions, your curiosities and your concerns this evening as I have welcomed the opportunity to venture so far here and to be in your presence. And again, once more, in your presence. Is it not one of the most remarkable, unrecalled moments in our nation’s history that we should be all together tonight? And to reflect upon a remarkable history and that remarkable document that we have contrived. Do you know that September 1787, I was not there at the Constitutional Convention? In fact, did anyone know where I was? I was in France. I was serving as our nation’s second Minister at the call of his majesty, King Louis XVI. And I will tell you this, when I received from Mr. Madison that remarkable document and the letter that he sent me the following November of ’87, I wrote back to him immediately: “I am captivated by this document. Truly, the shortest of its kind in human history.” Creating a government to check it’s own power, providing the greater to the legislative body, truly, that elected directly by whom? The people. And particularly, the beauty of it’s prologue: “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” Is that not unique in human history that the people admit their government is not perfect. That we continue to strive and struggle to form a more perfect union. We continue to remind ourselves that we achieved something most unique indeed in human history. To bring together thirteen individual nations, not only for our common safety, surely. Yes, not only for our

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

common defense, but most importantly, for the common good. To think that we engaged the ink and arguments which have occupied man from, well, from time relative to his eternal struggle for liberty. To engage those arguments freely and therefore not to answer them, but truly to provide in the victory of our American Revolution the opportunity for man to prove that he is capable of self-governance. That is what we call the American Experiment. Citizens, as I dismounted beyond the doors and I took off my riding boots, I put on my shoes, and I thought, well, I’ll be observed by you all as rather musty and dusty from the saddle and perhaps, peculiarly apparent. So I conjured up an apology for you. And yet, as I was venturing down the aisle and the ascended the dais and turned about to gaze amongst all of you, your Excellency, I do not know why any apology from me is necessary! I’ve always believed in dressing for comfort, but you overwhelm me. I feel rather overdressed. Overdressed and wearing the peculiar cuff of a gentleman’s suit of clothes since the turn of the century. Oh, since the dawn of the 19th century, perhaps you’ve noticed gentleman have been cutting away their old frock, their frocks so fashionable. Before, during, after the American Revolution, bumping right down to their knees. You rarely see them any longer. Gentleman cutting away the points of their vestments and I declare that without the excess of material, well, this is far more comfortable in the saddle. I’m never a day out of the saddle. And that old tri-corner hat – you rarely see them any longer. With the exception, I daresay, of Williamsburg, Virginia where they’re still worn as unvariant to the past. But no, no – gentleman are now sporting these hot heads, growing ever the higher up. And yet you can see, I’m still old fashion. I still enjoy wearing breeches. Very comfortable in breeches, your Excellency. Easy to put on your boots, easy to take them off, easier to be seated in the saddle. I have not succumbed to this gentleman’s fashion of pantaloons, going all the way down to their ankles. In fact, I declare that even some of the womenfolk are sporting them here this evening. You must be from France! Ever in the forefront of fashion, they are. I beg your pardon, citizens. Lest you think your chief magistrate has lost his mind to stand here and ruminate upon fashion and style. Oh, lest you think, indeed, I did not own up to what the Federalists continue to attest and place upon me that I am somewhat of an American states. Have you heard that? Lofty, reserved, inapproachable, silent. Oh, many of my good friends, my family, know me to be incessant in conversation, to enjoy confab – particularly jocularity. No, I have not lost my mind to comment and ruminate upon fashion and style no more than the rest. It is an element of our human nature that I dub them. Even in the worst of times, it preoccupies us – what is the other wearing? Do we properly conform? Perhaps you have read, as I have read, “When it comes to fashion, swim with the current. But when it comes to principle, stand like a rock.” And that is what we are recognizing. This anniversary of our Constitution of the United States. Recognizing the safety, the security, the protection, the defense of the principles over which we engaged our American Revolution. First and foremost, to freely engage the arguments that have occupied mankind throughout his history. And secondly, to recognize the principles within our Declaration of American Independence. And even though I have been accounted, indeed with great honor, as the author, do you know I have often said there’s not one new or original thought in the Declaration of our American Independence. All that has been written and argued and debated before you, you may find it in the elementary books of public right. The works of

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

Aristotle, Cicero, and John Locke. What I attempted to do with the jockiness of my pen, what the committee attempted to do in their review of it and what our Continental Congress engaged to do as well was simply to shame the lofty sophism and explain it all in clear and simple terms so that everyone might understand. So that it might be comprehended in the great diversity of our population. And I’ve always said that diversity is our greatest strength. And to place before the world the common sense of the matter. And that matter is simply that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a few boot and spurred, ready to ride. And if you know, the most remarkable principle of our American Revolution was seen well before that revolution began. It was seen in the recognition of who we were becoming. The recognition that, though we were governed by one particular world family, generation after generation, governed by their particular parliament – one half of which is hereditary as well – and governed by their particular church. Well, I ask you, was it only the Englishmen seeking and asylum here in North America? No. Who else was venturing here? The Dutch – the industrious Dutch, settling up the Hudson, providing great prosperity in the form of New Holland. The Germans – from the many kingdoms of the Germans, proving to be our most industrious farmers. Do you know, as we meet here this evening, the predominant population in the new Commonwealth of Pennsylvania remains German? Others? Yes – the Scotch-Irish. They never wanted to be considered British, would they? And all the Irish, all the Scots and themselves. Imagine, the Spaniards. Oh, here well before the British or any others. The French – the mortal enemy of England – seeking an asylum here, claiming a great deal of our continent as their own. We know some from the Italies, some from Russians, some from the Orient. The Hebrews, seeking new a promise land in citizens. Who can deny the African? And not a one of us should deny that the great majority were brought here against their will. And yet as well, not a one should deny they have been settled here from the earliest days, have they not, with everybody else. And therefore, surely, what we began to realize was the simple fact – quite evident indeed – though governed by the British monarchy thousands of miles removed, here in America, we were becoming the less and less British and the more and more…self-evident. And I ask you, my fellow Americans, where or when does that end? Why the hesitation? It never ends. Indeed, many of you seated here tonight descended of those who sought these shores generations ago. Others recently arrived. And so it will continue unto generations yet unborn, I have written, shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe? We are that asylum. And by whose providence? Look about you my fellow Americans. You will see a greater representation of the family man that perhaps any nation may boast. All hail recognizing our natural right to engage those rights given to us by our Creator. Particularly, indeed our talents, given to us by Him, one different from the other, by which we not only pursue our happiness, but improve the condition of our lives, that of our fellow man. Truly citizens, the beaut of our Declaration is fulfilled in the beauty of our Constitution, which continues to grow with us as we grow as a people. For I have always said, a child of fourteen cannot wear the same clothes at the age of forty. And so our laws and institutions grow with us accordingly. I thank you, your Excellency. I thank you my fellow citizens. I look forward to your questions. But now, what an honorary, what a pleasure for me to introduce a gentleman that I have become acquainted with. Oh, I was struck with his surname when they told it to me. Your Excellency, I

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

thought it was an indeed immediate relative of the hero of our Revolution, General Benjamin Lincoln. Washington:

The gentleman who had received the sword at surrender.

Jefferson: Oh, precisely. Or I thought, perhaps, he was an immediate relative of my first Attorney General, Levi Lincoln of Massachusetts. But no, rather, as I understand, he is a relation of the two aforementioned… This gentleman was born the last few months of my presidency and he is with us this evening. Gentleman and ladies, please welcome the sixteenth President of our United States, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln: Well, please be seated. I appreciated the references to my ancestry and all being connected with your respective administrations and your work in the revolutionary context. I, uh, have a feeling that these people know that the Lincolns have migrated up to Kentucky and that I would be born there, two states south of where we are tonight in 1809, the year you left the presidency, as you said. And I did my little bit of education in the one room log cabin school in Indiana, down very close to the Ohio River. So I was your distant neighbor. People remembered me when I went to Illinois in 1830 – I was twenty-one years old. I had an interest in the law and I had a little bit of interest in politics. And I would eventually become an attorney – self-made, so to speak. I was held on retainer by the Illinois Central Railroad. And I got involved in politics when we had two major parties. The Democrats were the party of President Andrew Jackson and another party started in opposition in Jackson. Most were in banking and finance and they were called the Whigs – the party of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. That was the party that I belonged to. And I knew defeat and I knew victory in running for the Illinois legislature and to the US Congress in 1847, where I would meet Hezekiah Wells from Kalamazoo. And later, I would be invited by Hezekiah Wells to make my one trip to Michigan – that would be in 1856. Let me get to that in this way… I came home from the Congress in 1847, ’48 and ’49 – I had been there two years. Devastating news awaited me. I had to take up my law practice. But after being gone those two years, boy, when I returned, they said, “Well now Mr. Lincoln, we have 12 lawyers that work here.” Twelve? Well, my heart sunk! Could you ever imagine a town of 3,900 people with 12 lawyers! Well, I would have to ride the circuit to find business and I traveled to distant counties in Illinois and tried cases and the courthouses in different counties. And I was in that until 1854. Around 1854, the land that Mr. Jefferson had procured in 1803 – the called it the Louisiana Purchase – but all those acres and merchants from France were west of the Mississippi River and they started to carve territories out of that purchase. And in 1812, the territory called Missouri applied for statehood. But they wanted to come into our union with slaves. Slavery was legal by the Constitution in the southern states. It was horrible. But it was legal by the Constitution. And now, they’re going to let it jump across the Mississippi River. At the same time, they drew a line at 36º and 30 minutes north latitude, going to west bank of the Mississippi out through the territory Jefferson purchases. They called it the Missouri Compromise and I mean, I reckon if you looked at your maps today, you’d see, why, that goes about halfway through Colorado. And it was going to be legal to have slaves south of that line and it was going to be illegal to have them north of that line.

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

Now, here came the problem in 1854. Out of Illinois – it came from my state. We had an ambitious democratic senator there – his name was Stephen A. Douglas and he thought sure at the next election he could get to the White House. But then he realized he couldn’t get to the While House without southern votes. So in 1854, he put forth a bill in Congress that would do away with the Missouri Compromise. It would let southern planters take their slaves all the way up to the Canadian border, west of what we call Minnesota and Iowa. Slavery wasn’t going to go there. And Douglas went all around the state of Illinois, saying that, “Oh, we can’t keep these good men from taking their slaves northwest. We’ll just change the law.” When he spoke like that, I came out of my law office. I spoke to large crowds around our town, our city, our state. I said, “Wake up. Don’t let Douglas get away with this.” If we say that we’re against slavery, right now, we limited as to what we can do. Our government tells us slavery’s legal south of the Mason-Dixon Line, south of the Ohio River, south of that Missouri Compromise line. We’re certainly intelligent. We’re law-abiding citizens. So we must say to the government, “We’re not here to break any law. But we are here to see that you never, never let slavery extend its span one more mile.” We know, we understand it’s legal where it is. It’s our job to restrict it there. And if we can keep it contained, somewhere in our future, we’re always going to have the hope that the majority of our citizens will come to their senses and they’ll say slavery is built up on depravity, terrible economics and they’ll chose to get rid of it. But if we fall asleep and let Senator Douglas get slaves into the northwest, we could wake up in two years and read the headlines in the Chicago-Tribune: “United States now a Slave Nation.” And when I talked like that, I got a following in our northern states, I got some people in the south. But that year, up in Jackson, Michigan, the leaders of my Whigs got together with another Douglas – Frederick Douglas. Former slave, escaped, made his way up to Rochester, New York, became the leader of the Abolitionists. His Abolitionist leaders, my Whigs, the Free Soilers and the American Party came together because they hated slavery. And they cast the old names aside and formed a new party they called the Republicans. Later, I became a Republican leader out of Illinois and Douglas, who didn’t get to the White House, had to come up for re-election in 1858 to the Senate. And those Illinois Republicans put me up to run again and that’s when we held those Lincoln-Douglas debates. The outcome was that he won. He went back to Washington City. But the next year, 1859, I was asked to come speak about slavery in Ohio, up in Wisconsin, even at the Cooper Union in Manhattan. And then in 1860, the new Republican held their convention in Chicago and they nominated me and people sang a little song about me. “Old Abe Lincoln came out of the wilderness, down in Illinois.” Ten slave states didn’t even put my name on the ballot. The division within the Democratic Party – Douglas ran for the North, Buchanan for the South. He’d let me win, but when I did win, South Carolina said we don’t stay in a country whose president won’t let us take our slaves northwest. And they would secede. And this Constitution that we had talked about tonight – I didn’t think it allowed a state to secede. But that’s what they did and six others would follow. So when I gave my inaugural address, I said the Union is perpetual, as proclaimed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, at the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by our Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured in the faith that all of the then thirteen states, expressly engaged, that it should be perpetual by the Articles of Confederation in 1778 and finally in 1787, along with the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution, was to form a more perfect Union. And

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

war would follow. Eighty-seven thousand men from Michigan would leave their homes and jobs, go away to join the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Some of them on this date, September 17, 1862, would be with General George B. McClellan at the place called Antietam Creek in Maryland. And there they would meet Robert E. Lee in what developed to be the bloodiest single day battle of the war. It turned out to be a Union victory. It gave me a political platform to stand upon and issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This war going to go on for thirty more months. But I’ve always said the first step for freedom for the black man and woman in this country started September 17, 1862 with that victory at Antietam, which then, in turn, lead me to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Oh, the war would go on for thirty more months, but about nine months later, many of your brave Michigan men including George Armstrong Custer from Monroe, including the Iron Brigade, which was made up of men from Michigan, Wisconsin and certainly Indiana – they would meet the Confederates again under Robert E. Lee at a place called Gettysburg. And after a terrible three day battle, then on the 4th of July, our nation’s birthday, Robert E. Lee – outstanding general he was – had to retreat back to the safety of Virginia. The same day, a general by the name of Grant took Vicksburg on the Mississippi and now we would have that river flowing free to the Gulf of Mexico. But still the war would go on. And four and a half months later, they called me to Gettysburg to have a part in dedicating the cemetery there. And I would on a platform with a number of northern governors, including your governor, Mr. Blair. And he would hear me say, “Four score and seven years ago…” – I was referring back to the 4th of July and this man Jefferson, what he had given us as our Declaration of Independence. Well, the war would go on. It would end in 1865. And it would end at Appomattox Court House on the beloved Virginia soil of both of these who have talked to you tonight. Before the Civil War, people referred to us those United States. After the war, they referred to us as the United States. And we thank Michigan for the part that she saw fit to play in helping us keep this great country together so that there truly would be a future of freedom. Well, this policy would go ahead to other generations and there would be that man called Roosevelt and his father, you know, worked for me hard in the campaign of 1860 – he was a New Yorker, New York City – and he was a financier and a man who helped support the Lincoln cause to get me in the office. No one could have dreamed that he would have a young son who would come along and be called Teddy. And that Teddy Roosevelt would become a President of the United States and I’m happy at this time to welcome this man into our presence. Roosevelt:

By jove! Mr. Lincoln!

Lincoln:

Good to see you.

Roosevelt:

Mr. Jefferson.

Jefferson:

My pleasure.

Roosevelt:

Mr. Washington.

Washington:

General, sir.

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

Roosevelt: General Washington – you can refer to me as Colonel. Mr. Washington, I would personally like to thank you for your foresight and that instrument that governs this great nation of ours. Mr. Jefferson, I’ve often spoken ill of you…but I must say this: I have great admiration for your foresight in purchasing the Louisiana Territory, for if not he had done that, we would not be gathered here in East Grand Rapids High School in the great state of Michigan this evening. Mr. Lincoln, I heartily thank you for keeping this great nation of ours together, for your tireless efforts. And I might add, with the price of your life eventually. We are not and never shall be a government of the plurocracy. We are not and never shall be a government of a mob. We are a nation ruled by laws laid down by our Constitution. My friends, in order to be a good American, first you must be a good citizen. I understand there are Boy Scouts in the audience tonight – is that true? No, they didn’t make it. Well, that’s too bad. But on the whole, there is no finer instrument in producing good citizens than the Boy Scout movement and Girl Scout movement in this great nation of ours. You know, there’s nothing outstanding or brilliant about my career. There really isn’t. Except for perhaps this: whenever I find something’s right, I act. Going back to my early days in the Assembly in the state of New York in my 20s, where I rose like a rocket, for I got up on the floor and challenged the legislature on certain things. Ah, of course, I incurred a tragedy. You see, two days after my beloved wife Alice delivered a beautiful baby girl, which we named Alice… Two days after that on Valentine’s Day, both my mother and my beloved wife Alice passed away in the same house six hours apart. When my dearest died, the light had gone from life forever. How do you overcome something like that? Sir? Do you have any idea how you would overcome something like that? Well let me tell you, tell you all! A man can have two kinds of problems: one that can be fixed and one cannot. Now I suggest the sooner you start working in the problem that can be fixed, the better off you shall feel. As for the problem that cannot be fixed, the sooner you move on, the better off you shall feel. I spent two years cattle ranching out in the Dakotas in a little town called Medora. I’ll tell you right now my friends, if it were not for my time spent and experiences in North Dakota, I never would have become President of the United States. I did not run, or as our Excellency here would say, “stand” for the presidency. I came about it in a rather unusual way. You see, as governor of New York, I was a little bit too much of a reformer for Boss Platt, United States Senator from New York. In fact, I believe his exact words were, “I want that man out of my state.” Reluctantly, I accepted to run on McKinley’s ticket for his second term. Oh, I think I’d rather be anything else than a president. And Mr. Jefferson can back me up on this – you weren’t very fond of the office, were you? Jefferson: No, no sir. In fact, the second happiest day of my life was when I took leave of that great burden. I, uh… Roosevelt: All right, all right. Just a yes or no would suffice. I think I almost wanted to be anything else. Perhaps, a history professor than Vice President. I remember Marc Hanna, Senator from Ohio. His statement was: “My God, there is but one heartbeat between that damn cowboy and this nation of ours.” Well, I suppose, although it wouldn’t be proper – it would

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

September 17, 2009

definitely be out of school for me to say – but I should thank one gentleman from Michigan. A one Leon Czolgosz, who worked in the lumber camps in the state. An anarchist who dispatched McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. On September 14, on McKinley’s passing, I was sworn in as our 26th President in the city of Buffalo in New York. Now it’s a dreadful thing my friends, it’s a dreadful thing to ascend to the presidency in that manner. But it would have been a far worse thing to have been born with. And I’ll tell you this – no man has enjoyed being president more than I. I don’t believe I abused executive power, but I do believe I greatly broadened its use. All for the betterment, the betterment for our citizens. Fighting for legislation that protected free commerce. To bust the trust and other malefactors of great wealth. To put aside land for our children’s children. It’s not what we have that will make us a great nation. It is the way in which we use it. We are not building this nation of ours but for a day. I believe the nation behaves wisely if it treats its natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation, increase their value and not impaired. Oh, I recognize the right and duty of this generation to use and develop our natural resources. But I do not recognize the right to rob by wasteful use the generations that follow. Our United States Navy… There’s an old West African proverb that goes, “Speak softly, carry a big stick and you shall go far.” If we were to keep at the highest pitch a modern and efficient navy, then that should make the peace of this nation go far. I believe the greatest service that will lend itself towards peace is sending the fleet around the world. Another one of my accomplishments was a little ditch – anybody know where? (Panama.) Yes. Shaved off 8,000 miles around South America. Both for commerce and for defensive purposes. Now, I suppose the proper thing would have been to send Congress a report, nothing less than 200 pages, and leave Congress to debate the report. Instead, I took the isthmus and left Congress to debate me! And they’re welcome to debate me as long as they want, so far as the canal goes on. I’m sure you gentleman have had your problems with the legislative branch of our government, have you not? Of course, I…one of the solutions, three weeks after I left the presidency, I promised to send back the first lion that should come across, release in Congress to perform it’s duty. My friends, the presidency of this nation is a hard and responsible job. But you can have a great deal of fun with it, too. And you can create good things, to dare mighty things – and they often accused me of daring mighty things – to win glorious triumphs. Although checkered by failure, that you take the right with those boorish spirits that neither enjoy much nor suffer much, for the dwell on their great triumphs that knows not victory or defeat. The only man, I repeat, the only man who makes no mistakes is the man who does nothing. I thank you for coming this evening and I believe Mr. Whitney – whereabouts are you? – to make an announcement here. Are we going to do that part or should? All right – very well! I’ve never turned down the bully pulpit yet. My friends, we encourage you to ask questions this evening. Who makes history? Who makes history? People! Are we not people, the four of us? So ask questions about our life. You know, besides just the presidency. We all have interesting lives and we’re more than pleased to share it with you. I want you to conduct yourself during this question and answer period as you would conduct yourself in a football game. In other words, don’t flinch, don’t foul, but hit the line hard. Promise me that? Thank you.

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

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Whitney: Thank you very much for a very insightful and entertaining glimpse into your lives. Now we do encourage you to ask questions and we have microphones at the end of this aisle, this aisle and also for those of you up in the balcony, right in the middle. So as you queue up, please do so now and we will alternate among the microphones. And while you are queuing up, I would like to ask the first question of each of you gentlemen – could you please tell me, tell the audience, what you regard as your greatest achievement? Washington:

You said you had fun during the presidency?

Roosevelt:

Only good fun sir, but life is a great adventure.

Washington: Very different presidencies. Forgive me, sir. I would tell you that the thing that I am most prideful of – and I try not to be prideful – but it may surprise you. It has nothing to do with my public service. It has to do with my home. There is nothing that I hold with greater esteem or more pride than my beloved Mount Vernon. It is the only place I have ever wanted to be, sitting under my own vine and my own fig tree. But alas, in my life, all roads lead away from Mount Vernon. I have found that I have been repeatedly faced with the choice between inclination and duty and of course, I have always answered the call of duty. But surprisingly sir, it is Mount Vernon. Mr. Jefferson? Jefferson: I would concur with his Excellency. That for me, I hope all my days will end where I assure you my wishes do, at Monticello. No other place in my experience can take the place of my native woods and fields. And yet, I would say, Mr. Whitney, my greatest achievement without question has been acquiring the hand of Mrs. Jefferson in marriage. No, I can assure you this – I’ve always believed harmony in the married state is the first chapter in the book of wisdom. And it is certainly achieved when two individuals make it their personal duty to make the other happy. What a very simple thought for universal happiness and harmony within the married state. I can never forget when I first set eyes on the slender form, the gracious persona of Ms. Martha Wayles there when I entered Williamsburg City that winter of 1759 and 1760. And yet, I had discovered within a short time she was already spoken for by a classmate of mine at William & Mary, Mr. Bathurst Skelton. And yes, when Bath left college, they were married. But two years later, Bath died quite suddenly in a carriage accident out on the road to Jamestown and the widow Skelton then went into her seclusion for about a year. I will never forget nearly a year later, I was riding and I heard the most melodious sound of a spinet coming out of the parlor window in the distance. Well, I recognized the melody and in fact, so did my horse. He took me swiftly in that direction. And when we arrived, I dismounted, leapt up onto the porch and there was the graceful form of the widow Skelton, seated at the spinet. I knew then she must be coming out of the seclusion. So I made a rap on the door, the servant girl attended and I inquired of her whether the widow Skelton would enjoy a Mr. Jefferson to accompany her on his violin. Well, she went in and returned to the affirmative. She would be delighted, sir. And thereby we engaged nearly an hour’s music heaven with the widow Skelton. And as I took my leave, the very same servant girl, upon handing my hat said, “Mr. Jefferson – you might be further delighted to know that during your musical, I observed two gentleman approaching in this direction. Though, still at a distance, you persisted in your accompaniment at that moment, the widow proceeded in her solo. I saw the oddest thing. The ears of these gentleman’s horses perked up and took them swiftly in this direction. And when they arrived,

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Rushmore Live: A Constitution Day Celebration East Grand Rapids High School

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both of them jumped off the horses, ran up onto the porch ready to knock on the door at the same time and it was then that the music of your violin was hear conjoining with the music of the spinet and I distinctly saw the one gentleman look to the other in disgust as he balled his hand and said, ‘We’re too late – Jefferson got here before us.’” It is a true story that I am delighted to share with you and yet, yet I regret to inform you that as Mrs. Jefferson bore us six children, she found childbirth to be of a great labor. We could never understand why, in childbirth, she craved sugar more than usual. Why, my babies weighed the heavier, consecutively, one after the other to the extent that our last children, a girl, Lucy Elizabeth, weighed 12 pounds at birth. Mrs. Jefferson did not survive, but not before I promised her on her deathbed that I would never marry again. And I continued, as you know, to uphold that promise. I have often said that that moment when I lost my dearest companion that the future could not possibly hold any further happiness for me and that no man could have experienced the ten short years of uncheckered happiness. That is my, that is my greatest achievement sir, even in that sorrow. Roosevelt: Fond as I am of the White House and though, much appreciated my years in it, there isn’t any place in the world like home, like Sagamore Hill. There can be no more healthier or pleasanter a place in which to bring up small children than that nook of old time America that lies around Sagamore. My friends, there are a great many successes, achievements and attainments to gather during one’s lifetime. It’s exceedingly interesting to be a successful businessman, a railroad man, a factory man, a lumber man, a rancher, a hunter of grizzly bears or lions, a colonel of a fighting regiment, President of the United States. But if things go reasonably well, a household full of children make all other successes and achievements and attainments lose their importance by comparison. Lincoln: Well, I may be put on the spot here because I could talk about my family and the four boys – two of them died before they were eleven; three of them died before they were seventeen and Mrs. Lincoln was left with a situation where she was emotionally distressed. I had inscribed upon her wedding ring “love is eternal.” And that was true. That was true in my feeling of her, but I suppose that if I could get away from that family line just ever so greatly, I would say that what brought me the real happiness was keeping this great country together. And if you have to put it in an A/B situation, well, I’ll be remembered for Emancipation Proclamation. That never would have happened had we not kept the nation together. So, in place of A/B, keeping the Union together and giving the race people freedom. Audience Question: We have a Leadership Academy at Grand Valley State University where we study you and try to understand your success. I’d like to hear from each of you – what was the key to your leadership? How did you get where you got and how did you lead? I guess, what was the key characteristic that made people look to you for leadership? Washington:

Would you like to lead off, Tom?

Jefferson: Well, sir, I think appropriately so, as you have ever remained an icon of a proper and devoted leader for myself, let alone for the nation. I know, sir, that we’ve had various disagreements, but you always recognized, sir, that as Americans we can agree to disagree and you’ve always, always encouraged in the midst of the disagreements that we continue that most noble, noble representation of who we are for the rest of the world. And that we can pursue,

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through our disagreements, compromise and resolution for the common good. You exemplified to me there can be the integrity of one’s personal character is essential for a leader, that that emanates more than anything else on what is a halo to everyone else in observation. And as well, you have always exemplified to me that in every sense of the word that you remained a very great, a very good and a very wise man. Perhaps, sir, if you will for me, personally, in that light, I consider leadership to represent not one’s own personal commentary on their achievements. No, neigh indeed, but rather one’s own personal commentary on the achievements of others. And though I have been recognized as surely one responsible for the purchases of over 830,000 square miles west of the Mississippi, purchase of the island of New Orleans, which gains us the control of one of the mightiest waterways upon the globe, nay. Nay, even in the midst of the attacks by the Federalists that I usurped the authority of my office in that effort, oh, the Louisiana Treaty could not be solely ratified by me. When it arrived to my desk on the 14th of July 1803, it proceeded right where the Constitution says it should go – the Senate. It was the achievement of the Senate of the United States. And the negotiations which lead to it in France where not attended to by me. No, those negotiations were attended by two particular individuals, one not even of our salt. The one successful individual in those negotiations was indeed my fellow committeeman on the committee to draft our Declaration of American Independence, the gentleman I appointed Minister Plenipotentiary to France – Robert R. Livingston. And the other, a Frenchman himself, who was welcome to seek an asylum on our soil. Who brought his two sons here, that they might indeed begin to taste the sweetness of liberty. And one of them to engage the manufacture of the finest gunpowder the world could possibly know for our defense. That gentleman, who was a friend of General Bonaparte, and later became one of his personal bankers during his rise to his self-proclaimed royal office. That gentleman was Pierre Samuel Dupont. It was Monsieur Dupont who helped me to understand, rather than to attempt to raise arms and thereby claim the Mississippi, let alone the land to the west, why not let it be suggested these United States would be willing to purchase New Orleans and the territory of Louisiana. Though it took me some time to make up my mind, sir, I did finally have to acquiesce and thereby accept what indeed seemed the more practical. I make these statements in your presence and the presence of my fellow chief magistrates, the presence of all of you honestly and sincerely because, if you will sir, I do believe that the true art in government is simply in being honest. Roosevelt: There is no big trick to leadership, really. There are certain principles that one must follow. For instance, judge everybody on their merit and not who they are. Surround yourself with knowledgeable people and study history. The nation’s possibility of achieving greatness lies in the present. And nothing helps a boy to achieve that possible greatness, but it’s consciousness of past achievements and past mistakes – you learn from those. I’ll give you one short example. When I first went out to the Dakotas, I was quite a character, quite a sight in my buckskin outfit and my Tiffany hunting knife, my wide sombrero. When I’d blurt out, “Hasten forward, there! Hasten forward!” one of the first roundups, I was laughed at. Imagine that. But I quickly gained the respect from the cowboys out there because I held my own. I put in the same hours, suffered the same hardships. I went into a saloon to check into the

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hotel above in the town of Mingusville. There were shots as I approached the building. There was a bully—drunk out of his mind—that shot the clock off the wall. I went in, sat down and minded my own business. Right away, he fixated on me and said something to the effect, “I say, four-eyes, your buying the house the next round.” It’s not worth getting into a fight over. See, good leadership knows when and when not to use force. He repeated: “I said you’re buying the house the next round!” Still not worth getting into a fight over. But, if you’re able to take care of yourself, don’t hesitate to take care of yourself. I gave him about as much rope as I was going to give him. I got up and lead with my right and followed through with the solid left and knocked him out cold. And ever since then, ever since then I’ve been known as “Old four-eyes.” These are a few points that I pass on to you about leadership. Use them wisely. Lincoln: Well, I think that leadership is in the eyes of the beholder, what he or she sees in another individual to consider leadership. But I think one of them is determination, sticktuitiveness, see it through. And certainly, when I was president, if we were going to have this Union, we had to see it through in the darkest times. And in those times in December of 1862, following a terrible defeat at Chancellorsville, I had to tell the press, I had to tell the wounded who survived Chancellorsville – of Fredericksburg, as I should have said – that there was going to be a turnaround and we were going to come back and we were going to win this thing. When we came to the December after Fredericksburg – and I said Chancellorsville earlier, I meant Fredericksburg – but that was the most dismal time of the war. And yet we had to pick ourselves up and walk. And I learned some of that from the man on my far right. Because of all the accolades that will go down to George Washington and how people will remember him at his beloved Mount Vernon and all of the things he did to start this country and to get us underway, there has to be one date in his mind that would be the darkest that he would never, never forget. And that was September the 11th. Because on September 11, 1777, this man was at Brandywine with his troops. General Howe of the British Army came by vessel off the Chesapeake, offloaded and almost annihilated him on September 11. He was able to pull his troops back to Paoli. Suddenly, the British turned and left him alone and marched into Philadelphia. So we can have bad times. I had mine, he had his. Mr. Jefferson certainly had his. And Mr. Roosevelt would tell us about some of his difficult times. They happen to all of us. It’s whether you’re down and pick yourself back up and demonstrate to those colleagues and the people who are relying on you for leadership. Washington: You know, Mr. Lincoln, when you talk about Brandywine Creek and our loss there and General Sir William Howe’s conquering of Philadelphia, our nation’s capital, I am put in mind in a humorous fashion of the news reaching Dr. Benjamin Franklin that General Howe had captured Philadelphia. Franklin was in Paris. Franklin said, “General Howe has not captured Philadelphia. Philadelphia has captured General Howe.” That is a story for another day. But I do not disagree with anything these gentlemen have said with regard to leadership. I would add the following: we should never lose sight of virtue, integrity and honor in leadership. And these are not just words, they are calls to action. And if I would summarize my personal belief with regard to leadership, indeed, the actions in my life in general, it is simply deeds, not words.

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Audience Question: Question for General Washington and Mr. Jefferson – of your impressions and Mr. Jefferson’s friendship with Thomas Payne. Washington:

With who?

Jefferson:

With Thomas Payne, sir. Mr. Payne.

Washington:

Oh, sorry. I could not hear you. The corset maker.

Jefferson:

Sir, you’ve already begun to speak of Thomas!

Washington: You know, Thomas, I must admit, I have had a great amount of that American beverage today – coffee. So I am uncharacteristically out of control. I apologize. Jefferson: Your Excellency, I have always considered coffee to be the drink of the civilized world. Perhaps this has lifted your spirits then, to be more vociferous than usual. Washington:

Perhaps.

Jefferson: I understand it is my place now to speak. The most solicitous pen I have ever know, the pen of Thomas Payne. I was first introduced to him in Philadelphia City in the spring of 1776. He had been here for about a year. He had printed in that city his pamphlet, The Common Sense. Indeed, it was more readily received into the hands of the citizen than anything ever published in America before, save the Holy Book in various translations. I was quite taken by his documents. And in my very first meeting with him, sir, having of course the privilege of an education, a Latin school, and English academy, the old world college of William & Mary, reading law with Mr. George Witt in Williamsburg, I wondered which author throughout human has been his great inspiration. And when I put forth this question unto Mr. Payne, do you know he replied to me in that bold, Irish accent of is, he said, “Sir, my inspiration has been found in the taverns, inns and ordinaries of America.” The people, the common man. Audience Question: In your presidency, have you ever picked out one event that was kind of a lucky break that helped change things and move things ahead during your presidency? Washington: You know, madam, I am put to mind once again of our glorious contest, which of course ultimately lead to the presidency. I do not believe that one can look at the events of our years leading up to American Independency and the great contest that occurred afterwards without…with the fact that one would believe in the interposition of divine providence. There are countless examples during our war of independence where we should have been defeated. It should have been. I will site just two that occurred in one day. We are meeting the British at Brooklyn Heights. I have covered all of the possible means of attack, save for one small road. The British provide a feint. We think it is the vanguard of the entire army – it is not. The entire army is marching behind us on that one small road. And so they are having the Lord Harry with us. And the push us back to our breastworks. They are 600 feet from us and they stop. Night was beginning to fall – it was just dusky, madam. Had they pressed their advantage, the war might have been over then and there. They did not. That same evening, with

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the American army behind its breastworks, the British 600 feet away, my entire army, under the cover of not just the darkness, madam, but the fog that had set in, retreats across the East River under the very bowsprits of the British Navy onto the Manhattan Island. Only one of countless examples. So that is what comes to mind. During the presidency, keeping Jefferson and Hamilton apart was a miracle. Audience Question: Should the President of the United States have a line item veto? Lincoln: A line item veto? I have no idea. Do you want to explain it to us? What does that mean, a line item veto? Is it something, an item for sale? Beg your pardon? Whitney: I think we ought to have Theodore Roosevelt explain what a line item veto is. You had some challenges with some budgets. Roosevelt: Of all my accomplishments, money was not one of them. Ask mother, my second wife, Edith. She would give all the children, including me, an allowance each day. I’d promptly spend it and ask for more and she’d say, “Theodore, you’ve had yours today. You’ll have to wait for tomorrow.” And I just don’t know where it goes, Edie, I just don’t know where it goes. We did have a panic in 1907. Believe it or not, one of the malefactors of Great Hook, J.P. Morgan, acted as our Federal Reserve and pulled us out of that panic. Fortunately, I relied on qualified people to take care of the finances of this great nation. Although I was involved in the veto, but I did not sign – I’ll explain. You see, Congress was going to prohibit the Chief Executive of this nation from signing away land to put under federal protection. Now, I could have signed that veto, but what happens. You know, I could have vetoed it, but what would happen? It would just go back into the process and make more fuss than necessary and eventually be signed at some point in time. The prudent thing was, several weeks before I had to sign that veto, I had reading naturalist, my good friend, Gifford Pinshaw – our Chief Forester, a position I created – at the White House. There were all kind of maps laid out to pick out at the last moment lands worth saving. So I put aside quite a number of acres before I had to sign that veto. Always use the veto power carefully. Audience Question: This question is for General Washington and President Jefferson. You heard from President Lincoln what became of the nation during his time, during his presidency. Do you think that’s due to some flaws in the Constitution that you created and weren’t able to cover? And was that Constitution meant to be a living document that could be changed later or a document that’s set in stone, everything in it should interpreted the same over time? Thank you. Jefferson: Ma’am, I will tell you, in my opinion, we should ever, ever recognize that we become different people every day. We are different people this evening in our associations than his Excellency and myself knew in our very first meeting. We were different people in 1776, several years after that first meeting. We were a different people in the very first presidential election and after our Constitution and his Excellency was elected. And certainly different people a decade later when I was elected the third chief magistrate. You have asked me whether our system of government and laws are to remain stagnant and not go anywhere. I was concerned about that, yes, when I received that letter aforementioned from Mr. Madison. Oh, you heard my reply – I thought it was an extraordinary document, surely. And yet, I wrote back

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to Mr. Madison, it lacks something. It lacks something that allows that Constitution to grow. Otherwise it is stagnant, it does not go anywhere and it can be read by anyone in office to his own particular interest. I said what is necessary for the Constitution is what all people are entitled to against any government upon the globe. For I said what is necessary is…a Bill of Rights. A Bill of Rights. Do you know that Mr. Madison wrote back to me that the rights are inferred in the Constitution – there is no need for them to be written down? And I wrote back immediately – are we to rest upon inference on such an important subject as our rights? As citizens, recognizing that the government cannot exist without our approbation the honorarium that provide unto elected office. Oh, Mr. Madison and I had several communications. He believed that to pronounce these rights is therein in the pronouncement to limit them. That they can therein receive opposition, argument and debate. And yet, I reminded Mr. Madison that we are free in nature to declare and therefore should declare these rights to be the inalienable rights of the family of man across the globe. And I believe, though Madison has changed my mind on many occasions, that that one, I was a greater influence unto him. And therefore, yes, as I said earlier, our Constitution is living and breathing and it grows as we grow as a people. Now, I’m not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and institutions, but when, over time, they begin to prohibit the further growth of either man’s intellect or his health or his happiness, well yes, they should be reviewed. And, though I have written it, it is not my own statement, a revolution is a good thing every generation or so. The tree of liberty should be continually refreshed with the blood of patriots as well as of tyrants. That was Montesquieu who wrote that. And yet, I hope you do not forget the revolution in human history may imply revolt, rebellion, bloodshed. We probably should examine that over the great scheme of things, revolution is simply the revolving back to the essential element of liberty and freedom. And that has been shown through human history to be the most successfully achieved by the stroke of a pen than ever by the stroke of a sword. Whitney: that side.

We have time just for two more questions – a question from here and on

Audience Question: Mr. Jefferson, perhaps you could comment on your feelings about the fact that today you are referred to as the founder of the Democratic Party in our country. Jefferson:

The Democratic Party? Oh! I declare!

Washington: I will tell you, sir, that I can comment on the fact that we should not have political parties in this country. We should have consensus. That does not mean we should not have debate and discourse – we should. But we should have consensus around the spirit of 1776. I believe that political parties, as characterized by Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hamilton in my second term are divisive. I believe it does not bode well for this nation. I believe that politicians, by their nature, twistify the very engines that put them into office. They concern themselves with their own welfare and that of their friends and the common welfare a very distant second. And now we shall hear from a politician. I was speaking of Mr. Roosevelt, Thomas. Roosevelt: Our great democracy has got to be progressive, which could be either Republican, Democrat, Whig or whatever else there is. Or it’s progressive. For if it’s not, it will soon cease to be either great or a democracy.

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Washington:

September 17, 2009

You were going to say, sir?

Jefferson: He almost took the words right out of my mouth. And here I thought he was a Federalist all along. Your Excellency, Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Roosevelt, citizens – I can assure you this: we should never, ever denigrate politics and politicians. It is the lifeblood, if you will, of our effort to improve our condition and we hope make more efficient the methods of our government. It is an art, an ancient art of compromise and resolution for the common good. Your Excellency, we have argued and debated long indeed on this particular subject… Washington:

Tis true.

Jefferson: And I can say that General Hamilton and myself have exemplified in your particular cabinet, perhaps the two diverging opinions of the American identity. That which is to reflect on what has been accomplished in human history, particularly the great success of all the world’s empires engaged by Great Britain herself in trade, political economy and corporation. Yes, I will not deny that. But I do not believe that the principles of our American Revolution were to hearken back to the ages of the darkest ignorance and ought to find the greatest improvement. Or to think that anyone with anything that might have been created in the past cannot be improved upon and bettered for the future of generations yet unborn. And therefore yes, I argue on behalf of further securing, protecting and defending those principles to recognize the common man in all things and the equal opportunity bestowed on mankind by our Creator, who indeed has not created us equal in our face and our form, nor in our mental capacities. But rather, has created us free. He who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time desires an equal opportunity unto all in the family of man. And therein and there upon, sir, though we should energize our nation in commerce, let us not forget the farm. Nine out of every ten Americans seated on their farm, engaging the cultivation of the soil – the most noble occupation for mankind. For therein, and I ask you, who knows better how to hold the reigns of selfgovernment and answer the call of our nation to protect both person and property. Roosevelt: Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Jefferson – I find this a rare occasion where I agree with you on something. To hold the reigns. But you must remember my friends, political offices not the property of politicians at all. Because you’re quite right, your Excellency, they do twistify if you let them. Political offices belong to the men and women of this great nation. It is up to you to see that they are filled with the servants of the men and women of this great nation. Lincoln: Well I was going to say that I was confused a little bit in that question because the gentleman asked you if now you wouldn’t be a, what did he say, a Democrat? Jefferson: He called me of the founder of the Democratic Party. And though we became known in your cabinet as anti-Federalist in our opposition to General Hamilton and his financial schemes… Roosevelt:

Well that makes you a Democrat in my eyes, sir.

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Jefferson: And though, Mr. Lincoln, we became know as thereby Democratical Republicans, oh I can assure you this, during the four and the eight years of my administration, we were known simply as Jeffersonian Republicans. And yes… Lincoln: But I was the first Republican president and I sometimes get asked that question, “Wouldn’t you now be a Democrat?” And you know how I answer? I said, well, if two men were at a New Year’s Eve and became a little, well, inebriated. Well, they got outside and got into a fisticuffs. And after the fight, each one came up in the other man’s face. So I…I really don’t think the people understand quite what we stood for in our respective times. We kept our own coats on. Jefferson: We kept our own coats, Mr. Lincoln, and that is why I brought an answer. Whether I be called the father of the Democratic party or I’ve heard often that you referred all honor and glory to me as a true Republican. Whether we be called Republicans, whether we be called liberal or conservative, whether we be called Whig or Tory, I have pronounced oft times, your Excellency, as you know, I have hoped to be known and I hope my political platform may continue to be known as the Spirit of ’76, that we have not forgotten the principles of our American Revolution. Audience Question: Hi. I’m really into ballet and I just wanted to know if you have ever seen a ballet or been to a ballet.? Jefferson:

Have we seen a ballet?

Washington: Why did you being your inquiry with the word, “Hi”? Did you infer it when you were referring to something? Lincoln:

Did you ask about the ballet?

Jefferson:

If we had seen a ballet, Mr. Lincoln.

Lincoln: Oh…we certainly were familiar with the ballet, Mrs. Lincoln and I. And I can remember a terrible tragedy at Ford Theater in Washington City… This was in 1862. A ballet troupe was visiting Ford’s Theater and there was a tremendous fire and they lost all of their sets and their costuming. So yes, we knew ballet and the ballet visited Washington City every once in awhile. Jefferson: As I have written, the most delicate and delightful element of art in the human form. And I was privileged to see a number of ballets during the five years that I was in France. Yes, your Excellency? Washington: I remember you describing it to me. I was…jealous, if truth be told. I enjoy theater greatly and Mr. Roosevelt and I were talking earlier, he enjoys theater and I understand you are very much…

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Lincoln: Oh, we loved the opera. We attended Ford’s Theater after it was repaired and I saw Faust in March when it was here. The opera of Faust appeared in Washington. I love the opera. Washington:

Well, you keep enjoying the theater, sir.

Jefferson:

Mr. Roosevelt, are you dedicated to the arts?

Roosevelt: Yes, I am. Besides hunting grizzlies and lions, I do champion the arts. If were it not for my badgering to Congress, we would not have a National Portrait Gallery. I champion all the American arts. And by the way, I wish you well, I wish you well with your career in the ballet. Whitney:

Thank you very much, gentleman, for a very enlightening evening.

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