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Knowledge Is Power

"A Room Without Books Is Like A Body Without A Soul" - Cicero

Thomas Jefferson's collection of books on display at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.


The saying, "Knowledge is Power" is often attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, an English

philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England. Bacon has been called the father of empiricism. In philosophy, empiricism emphasizes the role of empirical evidence in the formation of ideas, rather than innate ideas or traditions. In one of his writings, Meditationes Sacrae (1597), we find the closest expression in the Latin "ipsa scientia potestas est", which is translated as "knowledge itself is power".

Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "Knowledge is Power" on multiple occasions when writing about creating a public university in Virginia. Jefferson believed in the power of

the written word and the world of knowledge that it opened. In cognitive science, its said that reading and increasing your knowledge base has an exponential effect. The more you know the easier it is to learn additional information. You also develop critical thinking skills. You can intelligently contemplate the things you've read. Jefferson used the knowledge he gained from books to help him become one of the greatest minds among the Founding Fathers. He wrote the Declaration of Independence. He founded the University of Virginia and he drafted the Religious Freedom Statute for the state of Virginia which was the forerunner for the American Constitution's first amendment protections for religious freedom.

Jefferson LOVED books. Some say he was obsessed with books. The proof for that statement would be that he spent a lot of money buying books from book sellers in Europe, creating his own incredibly large library at Monticello. He sold a large portion to the Library of Congress in Washington DC in 1815 for $23,500 after the fire that claimed much of the Library of Congress' collection.

This book, Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library is about Jefferson's library at his home in Monticello and is for kids ages 7 to 10. I think the cover is a great visual representation of the work he put into building his incredible collection of books.

If you'd like to learn more about Thomas Jefferson, his life and love of books, I recommend Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power by Jon Meacham.

A favorite author of Jefferson was Roman philosopher, orator and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero. He wrote, "A room without books is like a body without a soul,"

Power to the People and Where It All Began

Pictured at left is one of the original Gutenberg Bibles on display at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

None of the knowledge from books would be possible without the invention of the mechanical movable-type printing press by Johannes Gutenburg of Mainz, Germany. The first printed Bible in Latin took three years to print 200 copies, but that was quick compared to the monks that transcribed books. One scribe could write out one to two books each year. And things have only improved from there.

Today you can download the Bible or any other book by just touching a screen on a mobile device or laptop computer. It's amazing how far we've come since the 1400's.

I love the title of this children's book about Gutenberg! Indeed, If You Love Reading, Thank Johannes Gutenberg! And what's really great about this book is that it costs you nothing to download and read if you are a member of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program. It's currently just $9.99 a month to read as many Kindle Unlimited books as you'd like. If you or a member of your family are voracious readers, it's a deal!

Another adult book about Gutenberg that is free on Kindle Unlimited is Johannes Gutenberg: A Renaissance Man by Tony Sumner.

And just for fun, here's a picture from one of our family's visits to the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The Library of Congress is the national library of the United States of America, has 158 million documents and is the largest library in the world! You have to be pre-approved to enter the Main Reading Room, which is located in the Thomas Jefferson Building. It's beautiful and it's on my bucket list to actually gain admittance someday! This view is from the glassed-in tourist overlook room.

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