Quiz about Thomas Jefferson  A Unique American  Part 1
Quiz about Thomas Jefferson  A Unique American  Part 1

Thomas Jefferson - A Unique American - Part 1 Quiz


I have been reading Jon Meacham's excellent book on Thomas Jefferson. I have long admired Jefferson and thought I knew a lot about him. Meacham provides us a detailed and insightful look into this complex man.

A multiple-choice quiz by MicjealS. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
MicjealS
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
356,222
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
5 / 10
Plays
286
Last 3 plays: Guest 172 (4/10), Guest 98 (6/10), Guest 162 (10/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. As part of his introduction Meacham gives us John Kennedy's quote on Jefferson offered on the occasion of hosting a group of Nobel laureates. What was that famous quote? Hint

The intellectual curiosity and energy of such men as Thomas Jefferson have not been lost in our generation but rather reflected in those present here today.
Thomas Jefferson was a remarkable man for his time. Would he not be amazed at the advances represented by those assembled here today?
I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.
We can look back in history to such men as Thomas Jefferson, but are not the intellectual achievements of such men dwarfed by those of today?

2. American history is populated by great men from a wide variety of backgrounds, Abraham Lincoln born in a log cabin for instance. What was Jefferson's background?
Hint

Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, was a very successful Virginia planter with major land holdings and considerable wealth
Thomas Jefferson's grandfather had created a significant fortune but Peter Jefferson, Thomas' father, lost much of it inspiring young Thomas on a life long effort to regain the family name and honor
Like Lincoln he was born in humble circumstances but pulled himself into the upper classes of colonial Virginia by talent and hard work
Thomas' father, Peter, was a modest merchant and it was only Thomas' marriage to a wealthy widow that brought him into the upper crust of Virginia society

3. How did Sally Hemmings come into Jefferson's attention? Hint

She was part of the estate he gained from his father-in-law
He bought her from a neighbor based on that neighbor's high recommendation
She was born to a slave on his estate
His father bought her as a gift for young Thomas

4. Jefferson's wife, Martha, known as Patty, died in 1782. Jefferson was 39 years old. Why did he never remarry? Hint

He was not all that interested in women and found his work sufficient
On her death bed she made Jefferson promise not to remarry
He had only married her to meet the expectations of the society of the time, and found that pursuit of women outside of marriage much more interesting
He formed a long term relation with a married woman who would not leave her elderly spouse

5. Jefferson's history with slavery is at best confused. It is said he opposed slavery but also owned many slaves. How can we reconcile this divergence? Hint

As a landed Southern he actually did accept slavery and only offered token resistance to gain political favor with the Northern colonists
He believed slavery to be wrong and attempted several times to excise the practice, but the economic and political realities of his day defeated him on every attempt
He changed his mind several times warring internally between his high ideals and the economic needs of his own property
He offered some early resistance to slavery as a young man but quickly came around to the accepted Southern view of the day that slavery was right and proper

6. You may know that Jefferson served as governor of Virginia. During what tempestuous time was he in this office? Hint

He served from 1763 to 1765 during the British colonial war with the French
He served from 1789 to 1793 during President Washington's first term providing him with key support from the southern state
He served from 1792 to 1796 during the formative years of the young American government
He served from 1779 to 1781 toward the end of the Revolutionary War

7. The Battle of Yorktown was in 1781 but the Constitution was not accepted until 1789. What was the Federal Government doing during the intervening time? Hint

Not much
Mired in concerns of the economy and trade
Busy and productive efforts to establish the structure of a federal system
A hot bed of foreign intrigue as various nations sought to gain influence

8. There are those who might say our current two political party system is not serving us well. What did Jefferson think of political parties? Hint

He thought that each individual should seek their best course without consideration of political parties
He felt that the more political parties the better to ensure the fullest representation of public opinion
He felt that strong political parties were essential at collecting views and opinions such that political might could be brought to bear on important issues
He had no strong views on the topic

9. With the Constitution established and General Washington installed as President how might we describe the nature of the young nation? Hint

Fragile and uncertain
Focused on westward expansion
Sound and robust
growing force in the community of nations

10. In 1796, Jefferson stood for president. He came in second to John Adams. At that time the second place finisher got the job of Vice-President. At least based on his writings from the time, how did Jefferson feel about his second place finish? Hint

He only ran because his friends pressured him to so he had no particular reaction
He was infuriated that anyone might choose Adams over himself
He thought it the best possible out come
While disappointed, he looked forward to working with his good friend and ally John Adams


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. As part of his introduction Meacham gives us John Kennedy's quote on Jefferson offered on the occasion of hosting a group of Nobel laureates. What was that famous quote?

Answer: I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.

I thought this was a delightful way to introduce us to Jefferson. The more you learn about him, the more impressive his talents seem.
2. American history is populated by great men from a wide variety of backgrounds, Abraham Lincoln born in a log cabin for instance. What was Jefferson's background?

Answer: Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, was a very successful Virginia planter with major land holdings and considerable wealth

I have long thought how fortunate we all are the Thomas Jefferson's father was rich. His father's wealth provided young Thomas with an excellent education and the social standing that came with that wealth brought the young man into close contact with some of the most important and influential people of the day. Thomas Jefferson was a man of great talents and it is possible he could have risen to great heights from any starting point.

But how unlikely would it be for the son of a blacksmith to get a world class education or to be able to invest so much time in public service?
3. How did Sally Hemmings come into Jefferson's attention?

Answer: She was part of the estate he gained from his father-in-law

Jefferson's father-in-law, John Wayles, outlived three wives. After his third wife died he took his slave Elizabeth Hemings as a concubine, not an unheard of practice at the time. Sally was one of the children from that union. Elizabeth was herself a product of a mixed union between an English sea captain and an African woman.

As the daughter of John Wayles Sally Hemings was in fact Jefferson's wife's half sister.
4. Jefferson's wife, Martha, known as Patty, died in 1782. Jefferson was 39 years old. Why did he never remarry?

Answer: On her death bed she made Jefferson promise not to remarry

Jefferson certainly appreciated women and did at various times become very friendly with married women. However, his promise to his much beloved wife kept him from a second marriage. His wife's mother had died in her infancy and as a girl she had two step-mothers, apparently not a happy experience for her.

She very strongly did not want any of her children to be subjected to a step-mother and, therefore, extracted the promise from Jefferson.
5. Jefferson's history with slavery is at best confused. It is said he opposed slavery but also owned many slaves. How can we reconcile this divergence?

Answer: He believed slavery to be wrong and attempted several times to excise the practice, but the economic and political realities of his day defeated him on every attempt

Jefferson began his attempts to form the legal bases for an end to slavery as a representative to the Virginia colonial government. He attempted to include an even stronger version in the formation of the United States and in the early formation of laws and policies of the young nation. In every effort his attempts were turned back. He wrote that he held that slavery was a wrong and a time of reckoning would come and America would have to renounce the institution. In this he was clearly correct.
6. You may know that Jefferson served as governor of Virginia. During what tempestuous time was he in this office?

Answer: He served from 1779 to 1781 toward the end of the Revolutionary War

Toward the end of the Revolutionary War things were not going well for the American side, especially for Virginians. The British overran the state capital, Richmond, and marched on to Jefferson's home at Monticello, forcing Jefferson to flee twice.
7. The Battle of Yorktown was in 1781 but the Constitution was not accepted until 1789. What was the Federal Government doing during the intervening time?

Answer: Not much

We may well be disappointed with the pace of our current Congress but this holds not a candle to the first Congress. The treaty that ended our war with Britain and established our nation required ratification within six months. They almost missed the deadline because they could not get the needed quorum of nine states to even get together to vote on it.
8. There are those who might say our current two political party system is not serving us well. What did Jefferson think of political parties?

Answer: He thought that each individual should seek their best course without consideration of political parties

The following quote captures his feeling on the topic.

"...because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was cable of thinking for myself...If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."
9. With the Constitution established and General Washington installed as President how might we describe the nature of the young nation?

Answer: Fragile and uncertain

It was pretty much a mess and the future of the young nation in serious question. Wars with Spain, Britain, and even our prior ally France were real possibilities. Then, by current comparisons, modest efforts at taxation instigated an armed revolt. Throughout there was a strong undercurrent of politicians who sought to retreat from our government of the people and establish a hereditary monocracy, a trend Jefferson fought tirelessly against. Washington deserves a lot of credit for holding the nation together during this difficult time.

Many problems still faced the nation after Washington's eight years in office and he was quite ready to leave it to others to carry on.
10. In 1796, Jefferson stood for president. He came in second to John Adams. At that time the second place finisher got the job of Vice-President. At least based on his writings from the time, how did Jefferson feel about his second place finish?

Answer: He thought it the best possible out come

Jefferson had watched Washington struggle with the vast challenges facing the infant nation and was not disappointed that he would not be placed under that pressure. While John Adams had been a great friend and ally to Jefferson in the early days of the Revolution as time went on their political views diverged significantly. Adams supported a strong executive and in Jefferson's view was treading on the democratic goals of the Revolution.

As Vice-President Jefferson felt himself out of the pressure of the Presidency but close enough to the seat of power to mitigate Adams' excesses.
Source: Author MicjealS

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