I've been blessed over the years to have worked with some incredible talent on stage, whose ability to communicate holds me in awe. J. D. Sutton is a gifted actor who, for two and a half hours, so completely commands your attention, you don't realize the time has elapsed. Ten years ago my wife saw his original 45 minute performance of Twilight at Monticello at a bookstore which included dinner. She immediately called me and said "this is a play you've got to produce." I called J.D. and we got together and discussed expanding the play to two acts. I booked him to open a week before July 4th with a special performance on that day. We ran for five weeks and J.D. and I were able to pay a few of our bills (not all) from the profits.
Twilight at Monticello opens on a private dinner at Monticello (where you are his dinner guest) circa 1820, give or take a couple of years. Jefferson died on July 4th 1826 as did John Adams, 50 years to the day after the popular version of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of the American Revolution. During the course of the evening Mr. Jefferson talks about his life, loves, his long career, his close associations, his inventions and what he believes to be his greatest failures as well as his greatest accomplishments. Oddly enough, he didn't consider his political career to be a worthy accomplishment; he felt that it was a duty and responsibility that all citizens should take part in. The hook in the evening is at the end of the performance when Sutton, still in character, dressed as Mr. Jefferson will take questions from the audience. You will be astounded at the facility and ease with which your questions will be answered. After about twenty minutes J. D. Sutton comes back on stage sans costume and wig and answers the questions you REALLY want answered (you know where I'm going with this). This three hour evening is well worth it.
This morning I received an e-mail from him reminding me that Jefferson only won the 1800 election by one vote, and it was cast in the House of Representatives due to a tie in the Electoral College. I'm offering his letter to me as a morale builder for all of the hard working volunteers who are giving of their time. We need more GOTV volunteers on the street and behind the phones. We need to get everyone to vote. Can you imagine what this country would look like today, or if we would even be here today had John Adams (the Royalist) or Aaron Burr won in 1800? I shudder to think of the consequences. Barack Obama has been right all along; this election is not about him at all-it's about us and the changes we can effect.
Thomas Jefferson Elected President by One Vote
In the election of 1800 ~ the first between two well-defined parties ~Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams, only to find himself pitted against his own running mate, Aaron Burr, who had received an exactly equal number of votes in the Electoral College. This threw the election into the House of Representatives, where it took 36 separate ballots before Mr. Jefferson was chosen as our nation's third president ... and then by only one vote! Of course, Mr. Jefferson knew the value of a single vote; his 1784 proposal to prevent the spread of slavery into the new western territories had failed by one vote.
Two weeks from today citizens across the country will head to the polls for one of the most important elections in recent memory. Regardless of which candidate you support, PLEASE DO VOTE! Each vote can make a difference.
In his First Inaugural Address, Mr. Jefferson set forth his understanding of the founding principles of our nation ~ the nation whose founding document, the Declaration of Independence, he had written. As we enter on this critical election, these core beliefs of governance are certainly worth our review
J.D. Sutton as "Thomas Jefferson"
Thomas Jefferson's Essential Principles of Government
Friends and Fellow-Citizens:
CALLED upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, it is proper that you should understand what I deem to be the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration.
~ Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political;
~ Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none;
~ The support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies;
~ The preservation of General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and our safety abroad;
~ A jealous care of the right of election by the people - a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided;
~ Absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism;
~ A well-disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war till regulars may relieve them;
~ The supremacy of the civil over the military authority;
~ Economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened by taxation;
~ The honest payment of our debts, and sacred preservation of the public faith;
~ Encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid;
~ The diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason;
~ Freedom of religion;
~ Freedom of the press;
~ And freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus;
~ And trial by juries impartially selected.
These principles form the bright constellation which has lighted our way, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes has been devoted to its attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of our civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust. And should we wander from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, and to regain that road which alone leads to peace, and liberty, and safety.
~ First Inaugural Address, Wednesday, March 4, 1801