When should we stop learning?

One time it is said that President John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: “This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

President Kennedy said this because he knew Thomas Jefferson studied the previous failed attempts at government more than any other documented person. He understood actual history, and the nature of man. Could it be that he even knew more than what most understand today?

Just look at a portion of Jefferson’s lifelong learning:

  • At 5, began studying under his cousin’s tutor.
  • At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
  • At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
  • At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
  • At 19, studied law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
  • At 23, started his own law practice.
    At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
  • At 31, wrote the widely circulated “Summary View of the Rights of British America” and retired from his law practice.
  • At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
    At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence.
  • At 33, took three years to revise Virginia’s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
  • At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia, succeeding Patrick Henry.
    At 40, served in Congress for two years.
  • At 41, was the American minister to France, and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
  • At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
  • At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
  • At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions, and became the active head of Republican Party.
  • At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
  • At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation’s size.
  • At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
  • At 65, retired to Monticello.
  • At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
  • At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia, and served as its first president.
  • At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, along with John Adams.

Maybe that’s why he is so often quoted, like below:

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Thomas Jefferson

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  • Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager


    Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager

    Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.