Thomas Jefferson is widely acclaimed as one of the most brilliant men in history. Not only was the man a Founding Father of our country, but he was basically a super genius freak of the colonial era. But after doing a lot of reading about this guy’s life, I’ve come to two conclusions. Either Jefferson was one of those people who was so smart that he forgot how to function around other human beings, or he was kind of a hipster.
Jefferson dressed like a straight up weirdo. There’s a ton of historical evidence where people would meet up with Jefferson and then go home and write in their diaries about how weird he looked. His stuff never matched, for starters. And it was usually really worn down and kind of frayed. This points to nonfunctioning super genius who never learned to dress himself when his mom stopped picking out his clothes. BUT– People always remarked on the fact that while he dressed like a weirdo and had holes in his pants, they were always made of nice fabric and clearly cost a lot.
Jefferson started the (now dead) tradition of delivering the State of the Union address to Congress via writing, instead of as a formal speech. One of those “my thoughts are more poetic and elegant on paper” things. Pretty hipster, right? But according to historians, Jefferson also suffered from a tragic case of shits-his-pants-when-he-speaks-in-public-itis. Apparently he may have even had a pretty bad stutter. His hatred of public speaking so bad that he only gave two speeches during his time in office, and both of them were inaugural addresses, and both were incredibly short. However, when talking to crowds, or even strangers, this prolific and genius man literally couldn’t manage to say hello.
CONSENSUS: Nonfunctioning super genius
Jefferson is also widely known for the role he played in the creation and shaping of the University of Virginia. UVA is a well respected school, that is made up of approximately three groups: Fraternities, hipsters, and nonfunctioning super geniuses.
Jefferson and his bros decided to go do the touristy thing when they were over in England, having a good time. Jefferson was very vocal about his great love and respect of Shakespeare, so while in England he grabbed John Adams and was like “let’s v-v-v-vist St-st-stratfor-d-d upon Av-av-o-on.” So they went, they had a killer time, and before they left they were like “dude, I wish they had overpriced souvenirs that I could buy and bring home and show off.” Unfortunately for them, overpriced, tacky souvenir shops weren’t exactly common back then. But they didn’t want to leave empty handed. So they took a pocket knife and hacked up one of Shakespeare’s chairs and took home the wood chips.
CONSENSUS: Hipster. No, not even. Just douche.
If you’ve ever seen the musical 1776, then you probably know that Jefferson played the violin. A lot. When he was a kid, his mom made him practice up to three hours a day, and he was supposedly really good at it. His little brother had to practice too, but apparently he preferred to play jazz fiddle. But that’s a whole other story. Anyway, when Jefferson was courting his wife, he would show up at her house with his violin and wow her with his mad fiddle skills. An (unproven) story says that Martha had two other guys on the line in case the guy with the stutter and weird clothes didn’t work out. Those two guys came to the house to woo her, heard Jefferson playing his new Leonard Cohen cover, and promptly left because they couldn’t compete. Fortunately he managed to bag a wife before Jefferson infamously lost his violins.
Jefferson, like all good founding fathers, was raised in an Anglican family. He wasn’t very secretive about his faith, and openly discussed his belief in God and moral law. However, Jefferson committed a big hell no when he began talking about his belief that Jesus Christ was not the divine son of man. Jefferson believed that Jesus was a prophet and a moral role model, but he defied the idea that he was anything more than human. He believed in this so strongly that the dude wrote his own Bible.
In this Bible — nicknamed Jefferson’s Bible — Jefferson basically copy and pasted the parts of the King James Bible that he liked, and then left out all the parts that mentioned Jesus being God or any of his miracles. He never called it a Bible though — instead, he gave it a title so long that Patrick Stump would be envious. (The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, being Extracted from the Account of His Life and Doctrines Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Being an Abridgment of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians, Unembarrassed with Matters of Fact or Faith beyond the Level of their Comprehensions). Later he decided this crazy ass long winded book wasn’t the best, so he redid it and called it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.
When I say that the guy cut and pasted… I mean it literally. He took a razor, carved up the King James, and then pasted the pieces into another book to make it look the way he wanted. He would even edit it for grammar, so that he wouldn’t have sentences with too many prepositions or anything that started with ‘because.’ He would show it to people occasionally, but refused to have the book published until after his death.
I think TJ has spoken…
FINAL TALLY? Hipster
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