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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Monticello Thomas Jefferson Foundation Notes Thomas Jefferson's Love of Dance

Even the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which maintains and administrates Monticello in Thomas Jefferson's home state of Virginia is getting in on the controversy after libertarian activists were arrested for dancing at the Thomas Jefferson memorial last month, writing in a recent update on the foundation's website:

'Dancing, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “is a healthy exercise, elegant and very attractive for young people.”

Dance is an aspect of Jefferson's legacy that we honestly had not considered in detail before. The recent events involving the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC provided an opportunity for the Washington Post's dance critic, Sarah Kaufman, to reflect on how Thomas Jefferson--especially through the Louisiana Purchase--contributed to the history of American dance.'

...and linking to a recent piece at The Washington Post entitled "Dancing in Jefferson Memorial? Our Founding Father would approve." In it, columnist Sarah Kaufman writes:

'Jefferson had long been fond of dancing — he was a fiddler and used to play duets with that other Virginia-born Founding Father, Patrick Henry. He was known to play his violin for parties at the White House. At one Christmas bash there in 1805, the president — a leader through and through — became Dancemaster in Chief by fiddling for the dancing of his six young grandchildren and 100 of their friends.

And why not? Dancing, Jefferson wrote, “is a healthy exercise, elegant and very attractive for young people.”'

It's odd how we "honor" our Founding Fathers. A city named after George Washington is constantly grasping for more power, Andrew Jackson's face is on a central banknote, and there's no dancing at the Jefferson Memorial.

Wes Messamore,
Editor in Chief, THL
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