Sample Documentary on American Lives – Thomas Jefferson

American Lives – Thomas Jefferson, Part 1

The American Lives – Thomas Jefferson, Part 1 documentary is centered on the sophisticated life of Thomas Jefferson who pioneered and wrote the Declaration of independence; a document that saw the liberation of America. The documentary is a production of the renowned film producer, Ken burns. Just like many of his other documentaries, Ken Burns uses skills that his audiences are familiar with.

From the documentary, one realizes that Jefferson was born into a very wealthy family. His father was Peter Jefferson and the mother was Jane Randolph Jefferson. The father was a thriving planter as well as a cartographer. Peter Jefferson is famously known for drawing the first precise map of region of Virginia. His father passed away when Jefferson was of tender age. The producer skillfully uses the documentary to reveal both the private as well as the public life of Thomas Jefferson.

He spent many of his early days roving the woods as well as reading his literatures on a isolated plantation in Virginia. Due to the fact that his father was wealthy, he was able to acquire good education. He performed extremely well in classical language after which he joined William and Mary College. During his schooling years, he spent 62.5% of his time on books. This was contrary to his schoolmates who spent a great deal of their time on courting ladies, playing cards, as well as betting on horse competitions. A vast majority of the books he studied were on political and English literatures. The fact that he loved education led to his meeting of tutors, an aspect that prompted the receiving of his true education. After studying, he would spend more hours on his violin. In addition, Jefferson learnt horse riding. He would frequently take walks and slowly began appreciating nature.

Despite the fact that he was shy, Jefferson became a lawyer upon completing his education. He was acknowledged to the bar in a Virginian court in the April of 1767. Due to his competence, he was publicly appreciated as one of the country’s best legal brains.

He studied law under an esteemed attorney since there were no law schools then. Jefferson rose to popularity after writing a document outlining the rights of the British American citizens. This asserted that the parliamentary house in Britain did not have any privilege to exercise any authorities over the colonies they had acquired in America. To Jefferson American were supposed to be left alone to enjoy their freedoms. These freedoms included the freedom of speech as well as that of worship. The historians commenting on the documentary argue that Jefferson aired the aspirations of a novice American nation more than any other person who existed in his era.

When he was of age, he moved to Monticello, which means a little mountain. He carefully designed his mansion and his elaborate garden. With time, Jefferson redesigned and extended Monticello. He occupied it with art, fine furnishing as well as beautiful gadgets and architectural features. He consistently recorded the happenings around him. This included the weather, garden journal as well as the progress of his animals and slaves.

He inherited massive land from his rich father. He began constructing at Monticello at the age of twenty-six years. He maintained Monticello as his home throughout his lifetime.

Jefferson wedded Martha Wayles with whom they sired six children. Of the six children, only two survived into adulthood. These were Martha and Mary. Martha Wayles died at the age of 33 years following a birth complication. This was so hurting for Jefferson, an issue that led to his failure to remarry.

One of the commentators in the documentary in the film, Joseph Ellis asserted that Thomas Jefferson meant everything to all people. He further adds that if Jefferson would have been a painting he would have been Monalisa. This shows the worth that was attached to Jefferson by the American populace.

Footages of Monticello in a snow tempest that keep the audience watch the documentary gain and again. The civil war as portrayed in the documentary makes me yarn to pursue history as a subject. The documentary goes a long way in narrating where Americans have come in terms of democracy. It reveals the revisionism of history at its best.

While in France, Jefferson liked the Adams family. She was the wife of one of the diplomatic they had met in Philadelphia and with whom they had developed a strong liking. They would take walks together. While still here Jefferson met Maria Cosway and the two developed a strong liking and friendship. Mariah was an accomplished musician as well as a painter. Despite the fact Jefferson loved Mariah; he did not know that this love would thrive since Mariah was a married woman. The documentary reveals that the tours and walks were done using the horse. When she left for London with her hubby, Jefferson sat down and drafted the famous heart and head letter. From the dialogue in the letter, we deduce that Jefferson praises the lady who made him stray all the earthly possessions. He further blames himself for giving in to his emotions. He seems to be struggling with maintaining his integrity and the desire of having Cosway to himself. On returning to America, he slowly stopped writing to her. This could have been prompted by the fact that he was so involved in serving the state in a higher office. Cosway would frequently write and complain of his failing communication. However, her writing did not bear fruits because the more time progressed, Jefferson slowly drifted away from her.

In Jefferson’s push for democracy, he was not out to put liberty and governance in irreconcilable oppositions but to rather push on the conviction of a free democratic society. Thomas Jefferson dreamt of the strongest government in the planet. The strongly believed and argued that the fact all men all equal and that they are all owned by their maker with particular unalienable privileges. This to him was a truth that self-evident.

One aspect proved controversial in Jefferson’s life. Although he was a strong advocate for the freedom of people, he at some point promoted a strategy to gradually emancipate slaves in America. He possessed very many slaves. Some of the slaves were inherited from his father and father-in-law. This seems to contradict the nature of a person who fights for the freedom. However, he acquired a good deal of others in the course of his life. In addition, despite the fact he wrote the Declaration of independence, he ardently considered that African Americans were naturally inferior to the white race. His view was that the two races; that is the whites and the African Americans could not exist in peace. A small group of his slaves were lucky to be freed in his will. The greatest preponderance were sold after his death. According to Jefferson, the only remedy to American’s racism problem was the abolishing of slavery.

The documentary goes on to reveal that Jefferson rose to popularity at the time of American Revolution when he became a public personality. Writers and historians show on camera speaking about the subject of the documentary. A cast of artists read the words by Jefferson as well as words by other people. Such include the African American Historian John Hope Franklin. The commentators keep grappling with the peculiarities surrounding Jefferson’s life.

The visuals entail gorgeously photographed scenes of Jefferson’s famed manor, Monticello. In addition, other locations where Jefferson resided or worked are also shown.

Jefferson’s perception was that the central government should have limited control over the lives of its subjects. He advocated for individual autonomy despite that he owned a high number of slaves.

While serving the state, Jefferson was undergoing many tragedies in his life. His adored wife passed away on the 6th September, 1782 at the age of 34 years.  He went to Philadelphia the following year after spending months mourning her death. At the time when Jefferson served as the minister of United States to France, he had left his young surviving daughter behind. This prompted her to write him a letter. The content of the letter triggered Jefferson to organize for her to be taken to France so that she could stay with Jefferson. In addition, during his service to the state he lost four of his children. This was such a big blow to man who had given his life for the service of mankind.

He developed some affection with one of his slaves; Sally Hemmings; with whom they had an affair. Unfortunately, there does not exist a conclusive proof that Jefferson sired children with sally. Even as he related with Sally, Jefferson did not rewed after the death of his darling wife. According to the documentary, sally Hemmings was of mixed-race as she was three-quarters a white.  The historians argue that Jefferson would not have been involved with sally Hemmings. According to John Hope Franklin who is an historian, interracial liaisons were part of the Virginian landscape then and there was no way that Jefferson would relate with the people he completely exploited.

The documentary triggers within me a desire that creates an interest for the studying of History. For example, the documentary highlights on Jefferson diplomatic visit in France. It reveals the events that took place while he was there. One will want to know what happened after the diplomatic visit and what the impacts of the visit were.

While serving the congress, Jefferson suffered an inquiry into his conduct. This inquiry was conducted during the last year of his tenure. This left him in the face of massive criticism. This was despite the fact that he was finally entirely repudiated. After this incident, he made a reemergence in the political scene and won the favor of many people. The documentary is relevant for catalyzing the inner conviction that political leaders should pursue the good of others and not their won. This is because it provides an exemplary personality that should ne emulated by all.