Thomas Jefferson: Scientist

Thomas Jefferson: Scientist

Thomas Jefferson: Scientist

Thomas Jefferson: Scientist

Excerpt

Thomas Jefferson had a great personal love for science. He regarded science as one of the surest means of advancing social progress and human happiness. There is no period in his life, even through the most pressing trials of private affairs or of public office, when one does not find him occupied with some scientific or technological problem, or pondering over some practical application of scientific knowledge.

Jefferson had a remarkably receptive mind. He was ready to accept any new truths based upon sufficient fact or experiment, and aid in the discovery of new scientific knowledge even where it might contradict his own beliefs. In his wish to dispel the clouds of obscurantism and the mist of error, he assisted any and all individuals and learned societies interested in science and its applications. He made a patriotic use of his scientific knowledge to give the outside world a truer understanding of actual conditions in his native country, while seeking, untiringly, to bring scientific learning to his own countrymen. And one hears his persistent demand that the benefits of science be made available to the common man so that his lot might be progressively bettered.

Jefferson's scientific knowledge was not always exhaustive. His facts were not always right, nor his conclusions always correct. He could not keep sufficiently abreast of the more rapid developments in certain scientific fields in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. There were times when he perhaps over-stressed immediate, utilitarian values. And certain of his preconceptions obscured his grasp of scientific truth.

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