Week Ending Friday, April 18, 2008

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Author: George W. Bush  | Date: April 14, 2008

Remarks Honoring President Thomas Jefferson’s 265th Birthday,
April 14, 2008

Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. Laura and I are so honored you are here. I welcome members of my Cabinet, Members of the United States Senate, folks who work in the White House, the Governor of Virginia and Anne Holton. Thank you all for coming. We’re really happy you’re here.

We’re here tonight to commemorate the 265th birthday of Thomas Jefferson, here in a room where he once walked and in a home where he once lived. In this house, President Jefferson spread the word that liberty was the right of every individual. In this house, Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark off on the mission that helped make America a continental nation. And in this house, Jefferson was known to receive guests in his bathrobe and slippers. [Laughter] Laura said, "No." [Laughter] I don’t have a bathrobe. [Laughter]

With a single sentence, Thomas Jefferson changed the history of the world. After countless centuries, when the powerful and the privileged governed as they pleased, Jefferson proclaimed as a self-evident truth that liberty was a right given to all people by an Almighty.

Here in America, that truth was not fully realized in Jefferson’s own lifetime. As he observed the condition of slaves in America, Jefferson said, quote, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just [and] that His justice cannot sleep forever." Less than 40 years after his death, justice was awakened in America and a new era of freedom dawned.

Today, on the banks of the Tidal Basin, a statue of Thomas Jefferson stands in a rotunda that is a memorial to both the man and the ideas that built this Nation. There, on any day of the week, you will find men and women of all creeds, colors, races, and religions. You will find scholars, schoolchildren, and visitors from every part of our country. And you will find each of them looking upward in quiet reflection on the liturgy of freedom, the words of Thomas Jefferson inscribed on the memorial’s walls.

The power of Jefferson’s words do not stop at water’s edge. They beckon the friends of liberty on even the most distant shores. They’re a source of inspiration for people in young democracies like Afghanistan and Lebanon and Iraq. And they are a source of hope for people in nations like Belarus and Burma, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Zimbabwe, where the struggle for freedom continues.

Thomas Jefferson left us on July 4th, 1826, 50 years to the day after our Declaration of Independence was adopted. In one of the great harmonies of history, his friend and rival John Adams died on the very same day. Adams’s last words were, "Thomas Jefferson survives." And he still does today, and he will live on forever, because the desire to live in freedom is the eternal hope of mankind.

And now it’s my pleasure to welcome Wilfred McClay to the stage.

Note: The President spoke at 6:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia and his wife, Anne Holton; and Wilfred M. McClay, SunTrust Bank chair of excellence in humanities and professor of history, University ofTennessee at Chattanooga. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of the First Lady.

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Chicago: George W. Bush, "Remarks Honoring President Thomas Jefferson’s 265th Birthday, April 14, 2008," Week Ending Friday, April 18, 2008 in United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, April 18, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), 44:520-521 Original Sources, accessed July 18, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NF58EWU7U4U8HR9.

MLA: Bush, George W. "Remarks Honoring President Thomas Jefferson’s 265th Birthday, April 14, 2008." Week Ending Friday, April 18, 2008, in United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, April 18, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), 44:520-521, Original Sources. 18 Jul. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NF58EWU7U4U8HR9.

Harvard: Bush, GW, 'Remarks Honoring President Thomas Jefferson’s 265th Birthday, April 14, 2008' in Week Ending Friday, April 18, 2008. cited in , United States. Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Week Ending Friday, April 18, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008), 44:520-521. Original Sources, retrieved 18 July 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NF58EWU7U4U8HR9.