Jefferson Memorial

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701 E Basin Dr. SW, Washington, DC 20242

In Advise and Consent:

“Now who’s being corny?” Crystal asked with an attempt at a smile that almost succeeded and would in another moment or two. “Let’s go see old Tom and stand by his statue and think Big Thoughts, no doubt. Now who’s corny?”
“We won’t be able to stand by his statue,” Hal said. “Walter and Mimi will be there having their picture taken. However, it doesn’t hurt to think Big Thoughts once in a while. That’s what places like this are for, I gather, so that we can occasionally.”
Above them loomed the statue of the President who announced to the world that he had sworn eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man, staring across the water at the city where quite a few people still tried quite conscientiously to remain true to his principles.
“I wonder,” Crystal said, “what he would have thought of all this.”  Page i1299

In Real Life:

In Advise and Consent, the Orrin Knox and his wife Hal rolled up to the Jefferson Memorial so Knox could invite President Thomas Jefferson’s spirit into the consideration of fairly hefty political conundrum.  On the steps, they ran into some tourists – Mimi and Walter – who barked orders at each other while they took pictures.   They considered going up to the monument to have big thoughts – but decided against it. You, however, shouldn’t follow that cue. You should take the opportunity to step inside.

One of the first things I noticed inside the memorial was the quote by Jefferson rolling around the inside of the rotunda. Allen Drury wrote, in Advise and Consent, “…the President who announced to the world that he had sworn eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind.”   I’m not trying to be picky or anything but I don’t think President Jefferson announced his hostility to the world. I know Advise and Consent, is fiction, but Drury is known for his research and accuracy.  So I was surprised that the line didn’t come from a famous speech but rather Jefferson wrote the line – in a letter to his friend, Benjamin Rush. It says it right here.  Then it was selected to appear inside the rotunda, along with other quotes from Jefferson’s writings – including the work he is most remembered for – the Declaration of Independence.

Our visit to the monument was the end of a very long walk in which we enjoyed the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and then the Jefferson Monument.  Interestingly, that’s the order in which they appeared on the scene. The Washington Monument opened in 1888, the Lincoln in 1922 and the Jefferson in 1943.  The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission started its work in 1934.  It picked an architect, John Russell Pope, who died of cancer but his associates swooped in and finished the job. Then just nine years later, President Roosevelt dedicated the memorial on what would have been Jefferson’s birthday, April 13th.

We arrived the memorial just as Drury described it. We didn’t see Mimi and Walter but the tourists were definately there. Those taking up the most space were the members of a fully uniformed ROTC troop posing for pictures. And there were also what seemed like a hundred more tourists milling about speaking many languages.  I got to thinking about Jefferson and the “…tyranny over the mind ” thought. While he may have written it in a private letter to his friend, the declaration actually is announced to the world every single day as people from around the globe fill the rotunda to get a look at the guy.  And then, I thought,  maybe that’s what Drury meant.

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