Vital Signs

Arms and Thomas Jefferson

The greatest enemy of government power in the early American republic was Thomas Jefferson. It is no wonder, then, that Jefferson has been so aggressively vilified by the partisans of political correctness. Jefferson was likewise disdained by many in the 19th and early 20th century who, quite rightly, saw his ideas as an obstacle to the extensive national regime they wished to build.

How sad it is to recall that the current occupant of the White House bears the middle name "Jefferson"—though the real Jefferson taught his nephew Peter Carr:

Nothing is so mistaken as the supposition that a person is to extricate himself from a difficulty, by intrigue, by chicanery, by dissimulation, by trimming an untruth, by an injustice . . . It is of great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth.

William Jefferson Clinton's disdain for the truth is matched by his contempt for another Jeffersonian principle—the importance of arms to a free people. In the same 1785 letter to Peter Carr, Jefferson advised the 15-year-old about building character through sport shooting:

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent...

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