As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
This Week in History
January 16, 1979 – Overthrown Shah of Iran Departs
Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, titled the Shahamshia – “Emperor” of “King of Kings” – came to power during World War II after an Anglo-Soviet invasion forced the abdication of his father. Under his reign, Iran marked the anniversary of 2,500 years of continuous monarchy since the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great.
But opposition had arisen in the land, clashing significantly with what was the U.S. and U.K. support for the Shah’s regime. The clashes were led by Islamists and increased communist activity. By 1979, political unrest had transformed into a revolution, which forced the Shah to leave Iran.
Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic Republic led by Ruhollah Khomeini.
Recently, the Shah’s reputation has experienced something of a revival in Iran. On October 28, 2016, thousands of people in Iran celebrated Cyrus Day, chanting slogans in support of the Shah and against the current regime and Arabs generally. Many of the celebrants were subsequently arrested.
Presidential Quote of the Week
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), 3rd President of the United States
May that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity. I shall need, too, the favor of the Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessities and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship and approbation of all nations. … We ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Thomas Jefferson, March 4, 1805, from A National Prayer for Peace.
Thomas Jefferson was born in April 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia, of Welsh, English and Scottish descent. In his early years, he studied at a school run by a local Scottish Presbyterian minister. He studied Latin, Greek and French, and learned the appreciation of nature, while mastering equestrian skills. His father died when he was 14 years old, and he inherited about 5,000 acres of land and dozens of slaves. He built his home there, which eventually became known as Monticello. After his father’s death, he was taught at the school of another minister, receiving a classical education in studies of history and science.
At the age of 16, Jefferson attended the College of William & Mary, studying mathematics, physics and philosophy. Ever learning, he studied John Locke, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, perfected his French, read Tacitus and Homer, and played the violin. After graduating with highest honors, he read law at William & Mary and was admitted to the Virginia bar at age 24. He practiced law, handling more than a hundred cases a year in colonial Virginia.
Besides his law practice, Jefferson represented Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Burgesses where he offered the radical notion that colonists had the natural right to govern themselves. He was not elected to serve in the Virginia delegation of the First Continental Congress, because his views were too radical.
Jefferson served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. When Congress began considering a resolution of independence in 1776, Jefferson was appointed to a five-man committee to prepare a declaration.
Jefferson served as governor of Virginia for two years, overseeing the transfer of the state capital from Williamsburg to a more central Richmond. Virginia was invaded twice by the British during Jefferson’s term as governor – first by Benedict Arnold and then by Lord Cornwallis. He and Patrick Henry narrowly escaped capture by a British colonel. He later became a delegate from Virginia to the Congress of the Confederation.
In 1785, he was named United States Ambassador to France. Under the presidency of George Washington, Jefferson served as the first United States Secretary of State. When John Adams was elected President, Jefferson became the second Vice President of the United States. He became President in 1801 and served until 1809.
He was married to Martha Wayles Skelton. They had six children, including those who were stillborn or died within a few years of birth. Martha died after the birth of her sixth child, and Jefferson never remarried. He had a long-term relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings, and they had six children.
The religious views of Thomas Jefferson diverged from the orthodox Christianity of his day. He is most closely connected with the Episcopal Church, Unitarianism, and the religious philosophy of Deism. He believed the moral teachings of Christ, but not His miracles. He was quick to acknowledge God as the Bestower of all freedoms upon mankind.
Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. He is buried on his Monticello estate.