Ken Burns is a brilliant film maker, but his collection of historical "scholars" was worse than pathetic. They want to shoot beyond the mark. They want to make their own careers with their slighting and cryptic comments, their little digs at a man whose boots they aren't worthy to polish.
I've read enough of Jefferson myself to know that while he was a brilliant writer, one whose prose was lofty and grand, his writing was also plain language, more beautiful because it can be understood by all.
Mr. Burns soared when he let Jefferson speak for himself. Thankfully, there is enough of that to make this documentary well worth watching.
I'm always rankled by those who will criticize the founders because they didn't give us back The Garden of Eden, for this is what these "scholars" criticize them for. What generation has solved all of the problems encountered? There has never been a generation of people who have solved so many, freed so many.
When Jefferson wrote these sacred words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..." and then signed his name to that document. He risked his life. Had he been captured, his death would have been torture most painful and gruesome.
Certainly those words did not make men equal, they didn't make all men free at the time. But, they made freedom possible where it had never existed before. When that liberty took hold, it spread around the world. And, to the extent that the rest of the world has imitated the understanding of liberty and government these men created, is the extent to which they are free. To the extent that their ideas are rejected, even in the country they created, is the extent to which men are enslaved.
And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and libraries of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them. In short, the flames kindled on the fourth of July, 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these engines and all who work them. Thomas Jefferson - Letter to John Adams (12 September 1821)