“On most afternoons when he was in Washington, Jefferson received his dinner guests at the President’s House around three thirty or four o’clock. He entertained constantly, handsomely, and with a purpose…Jefferson believed, too, that sociability was essential to republicanism. Men who liked and respected and enjoyed one another were more likely to cultivate the virtuous habits that would enable the country’s citizens to engage in “the pursuit of happiness.” An affectionate man living in harmony with his neighbors was more likely to understand the mutual sacrifice of opinion of which Jefferson had spoken, and to make those sacrifices.
There was, of course, a more immediate point to frequent gatherings of lawmakers, diplomats, and cabinet officers at the president’s table. It tends to be more difficult to oppose—or at least to vilify—someone with whom you have broken bread and drunk wine. Caricatures crack as courses are served; imagined demonic plots fade with dessert.”