Discovering the Preeminent Revolutionary

If you’re interested in the history of the French Revolution and want to know more about the man who laid the foundation for the French Republic, this is the video for you.

The ninth season of the PBS series, “Revolution,” kicked off today, giving you a brief history of the French Revolution and painting a portrait of the first American citizen to lose his life in the French Revolution. MySpace user leopoldwaiapp found the video from Tuesday and decided to share it here. It’s up to 16 seconds long.

Thomas Jefferson was born to an American family and moved to France when he was six years old. He stayed there for several years and was eventually drawn back to the U.S. in 1775. Jefferson’s plan to put a tax on luxuries, in exchange for giving one’s organs, feet and blood to certain causes, was rejected by the Massachusetts Senate. In 1781, the Pennsylvania State Senate also rejected Jefferson’s plan.

Jefferson returned to Paris and was imprisoned, but spent one winter at a home called “Dromeille Josephine” (French for “A House of Death” because it was used to kill the guilty on the first day).

After receiving word of his mother’s death, Jefferson eventually returned to Virginia and the Virginia Company, but the prisoner was still considered a British loyalist.

In his first year back from his mother’s funeral, the 22-year-old Jefferson faced off against a murderous baron who murdered an uncle. Jefferson was named Commodore in his regiment, and he proved himself willing to fight to the death to defend himself, his men and his country.

Jefferson may have originally wanted to be a “togallopedier” – an assassin who lay a trap for other assassins, but his British captors refused him asylum. But Jefferson was able to hold out and create his own anti-immigrant militia, the “Jeffersonians.” Jefferson was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death in February 1781.

In an act of desperation, Jefferson and about a dozen other patriots tried to escape across the border into Canada. Jefferson stabbed a Frenchman in the back as they crossed the river and escaped to England in the French Navy.

It was only two months later that French officials offered a last chance to try Jefferson in prison, which the French took. He was moved to the tiny cell of the Bastille, which is now the French Embassy in London.

Jefferson escaped the Bastille by shooting his way out of the prison and into the Parisian forests, where he was captured and sent back to Britain. Following his ordeal, he traveled to Europe and stayed until his death on April 25, 1826. He would have been 225 years old today.

This fascinating video is an example of how our culture can span the course of time, showing how technology and new formats can illuminate distant years.

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