Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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April 13th
Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States, was born this day in 1743 in Goochland (now Albemarle) County, Virginia. One of the most eloquent tributes to Jefferson came on this same day in 1943, during World War II, when Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.:

Today, in the midst of a great war for freedom, we dedicate a shrine to freedom. . .

[Jefferson] faced the fact that men who will not fight for liberty can lose it. We, too, have faced that fact. . . .

He lived in a world in which freedom of conscience and freedom of mind were battles still to be fought through – not principles already accepted of all men. We, too, have lived in such a world. . . .

He loved peace and loved liberty – yet on more than one occasion he was forced to choose between them. We, too, have been compelled to make that choice. . . .

The Declaration of Independence and the very purposes of the American Revolution itself, while seeking freedoms, called for the abandonment of privileges. . . .

Thomas Jefferson believed, as we believe, in Man. He believed, as we believe, that men are capable of their own government, and that no king, no tyrant, no dictator can govern for them as well as they can govern for themselves.

He believed, as we believe, in certain inalienable rights. He, as we, saw those principles and freedoms challenged. He fought for them, as we fight for them. . . .

The words which we have chosen for this Memorial speak Jefferson’s noblest and most urgent meaning, and we are proud indeed to understand it and share it:

“I have sworn, upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

American History Parade
1743
Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, is born in Albemarle County, Virginia.

1830
In Washington, President Andrew Jackson gives a famous toast during a time of sectional strife: “Our Federal Union: It must be preserved.”

1861
After 33 hours of bombardment, Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, surrenders to Confederate forces.

1970
The moon-bound Apollo 13 spacecraft is crippled when an oxygen tank explodes.

1997
Tiger Woods, age twenty-one, becomes the youngest person to win the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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