During one of our visits he spoke to us upon his return from presenting the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress. He read parts of the Declaration and referred to or explained other parts. During the course of his talk he spoke of Thomas Mann's influence and commented that Mann proclaimed that we all have the right to "life, liberty, ...." Before he could get the last two words out, the crowd completed the trio of rights with "the pursuit of happiness." Thomas Jefferson responded, "No! I said that!" (Mann proclaimed the rights: life, liberty, and property.)
During that presentation many in the crowd were moved to tears as Mr. Jefferson spoke of freedom and cautioned and encouraged us to guard the freedoms we hold so dear.
During our year of visits we never tired of hearing Thomas Jefferson speak. One week Bill Barker portrayed six different time periods in Jefferson's life. He took questions from the audience and never failed to respond true to the time period he was portraying. When a young lawyer, he would not answer questions based on experiences from later in life: he did not know he would become president and responded with surprise.
If you'd like to hear "Thomas Jefferson" read the Declaration of Independence, visit Mr. Jefferson Speaks.
Both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Happy Birthday, America!