Super excited to attend the Gilder Lehrman Summer Institute at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. After diving into my required reading: Emperor of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson's Foreign Policy by Francis D. Cogliano, I just read a chapter about Jefferson as a Wartime Governor. I have read a lot about Jefferson, but had never run across such a detailed chapter devoted to Jefferson as governor of Virginia and how that experience would shape the rest of his career. I honestly found it fascinating, how much he struggled with the Virginia Constitution of 1776 and its lack of executive power during times of crisis. According to the book, Jefferson struggled to protect Virginia from the advancing forces of the British led by Benedict Arnold (Cogliano, 21). The chapter includes the arguments made by Jefferson for executive emergency powers. The real argument is whether giving powers over to an executive in wartime would be in line with Republican Government. Surprising to me, Jefferson would be in favor of such a measure according to Cogliano (36). Jefferson believed such power would be relinquish, of course, when the crisis and threat was over. Jefferson said a moral and "good man" would not usurp such power and would give it back to the legislative body (40).
My question: Do you think Jefferson would have been proud of our leadership in times of crisis throughout history? In times of emergency, have leaders used their emergency powers for our survival and relinquished this power when the threat was over? Or are we in a perpetual state of war for a reason?