Category Archive 'Thomas Jefferson'
08 Jan 2021
“Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree, and in our states in a great one. 3. Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has it’s evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government.”
— Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, Paris, January 30, 1787
07 Jul 2019
I know, from Yale circles, a prominent and well-respected writer of books about American history. Several years ago, he repeated Nature magazine’s lie about Thomas Jefferson being the father of Sally Hemmings’ children. I called him on it, and tried explaining the many reasons these allegations were probably false. He wouldn’t hear any of it. The consensus of the Establishment said so, so it must be so.
Ann Coulter is smarter than my friend from Yale, and deserves applause for sticking up for Jefferson’s reputation.
This Fourth of July, letâ€™s look at the tactics used by the left to blacken the reputations of American heroes. To wit, the lie that the principal author of the declaration, Thomas Jefferson, fathered a child with his slave, Sally Hemings.
The charge was first leveled in 1802 by a muckraking, racist, alcoholic journalist, James Callender, who had served prison time for his particular brand of journalism. He had tried to blackmail Jefferson into appointing him postmaster at Richmond. When that failed, Callender retaliated by publicly accusing Jefferson of fathering the first-born son of Sally Hemings — or, as the charming Callender described her, â€œa slut as common as the pavement.â€
No serious historian ever believed Callenderâ€™s defamation — not Dumas Malone, Merrill Peterson, Douglass Adair or John Chester Miller. Not one. Their reasoning was that there was absolutely no evidence to support the theory and plenty to contradict it.
The Jefferson-Hemings myth was revived by feminists trying to elevate the role of women in history. …
Fawn M. Brodie got the ball rolling with her 1974 book, “Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History,” which used Freudian analysis to prove Jefferson kept Hemings as his concubine and fathered all six of her children.
Brodieâ€™s book was followed by Barbara Chase-Riboudâ€™s 1979 novel “Sally Hemings,” a work that imagines Hemingsâ€™ interior life. When CBS announced plans to make a miniseries out of the novel, Jefferson scholars exploded, denouncing the project as a preposterous lie. The miniseries was canceled.
Finally, a female law professor, Annette Gordon-Reed, wrote “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy,” which accused professional historians of racism for refusing to defer to the â€œoral historyâ€ of Hemingsâ€™ descendants.
She said â€œracism,â€ so the historians shut up.
In 1998, a retired pathologist, Dr. Eugene Foster, performed a DNA test on the Y-chromosomes of living male descendants of Sally Hemings, as well as those from Jeffersonâ€™s paternal uncle. The Y-chromosome is passed from male to male, so, if the story were true, Hemingsâ€™ male descendants ought to have the Y-chromosome of the Jefferson male bloodline.
What the DNA tests showed was that Hemingsâ€™ firstborn son, Tom — the Tom whose alleged paternity was the basis for Callenderâ€™s accusation — was not related to any Jefferson male.
Fosterâ€™s study did establish that Hemingsâ€™ last-born son, Eston, was the son of some Jefferson male, but could not possibly say whether that was Thomas Jefferson or any of the other 25 adult male Jeffersons living in Virginia at the time, eight of them at or near Monticello.
For Eston to be Jeffersonâ€™s son, we have to believe that five years after being falsely accused of fathering a child with Hemings, Jefferson decided, What the heck? I may be president of the United States, but I should prove Callenderâ€™s slander true by fathering a child with my slave! No one will notice.
It would be as if five years after the Duke lacrosse hoax, one of the falsely accused players went out and actually raped a stripper — in fact, the same stripper.
Nonetheless, Nature magazine titled its article on the study â€œJefferson Fathered Slaveâ€™s Last Child.â€ Hundreds of newspapers rushed to print with the lie, e.g.:
“Study: Jefferson, Slave Had Baby” — Associated Press Online, Nov. 1, 1998
“DNA Study Shows Jefferson Fathered His Slaveâ€™s Child” — Los Angeles Times, Nov. 1, 1998
“Jefferson Exposed” — Boston Globe, Nov. 3, 1998
Two months after these false â€œfindingsâ€ had been broadcast from every news outlet where English is spoken, Foster admitted that the DNA had not proved Jefferson fathered any children by Sally Hemings, merely that he could have fathered one child. Only eight newspapers mentioned the retraction.
The science alone puts the odds of Thomas Jefferson fathering Eston at less than 15% — less than 4%, if all living Jefferson males are considered, not just the ones at Monticello.
All other known facts about Jefferson make it far less probable still.
There are no letters, diaries or records supporting the idea that Jefferson was intimate with Hemings, and quite a bit of written documentation to refute it, including Jeffersonâ€™s views on miscegenation and his failure to free Hemings in his will, despite freeing several other slaves.
In private letters, Jefferson denounced Callenderâ€™s claim — a denial made more credible by his admission to a sexual indiscretion that would have been more shameful at the time: his youthful seduction of a friendâ€™s wife.
None of the private correspondence from anyone else living at Monticello credited the Hemings rumor, though several pointed to other likely suspects — specifically Jeffersonâ€™s brother, Randolph.
Eston was born in 1808, when Thomas Jefferson was 64 years old and in his second term as president. His brother Randolph was 52, and Randolphâ€™s five sons were 17 to 24 years old. All of them were frequent visitors at Monticello.
While Jefferson was busy entertaining international visitors in the main house, Randolph would generally retire to the slave quarters to dance and fiddle. One slave, Isaac Granger Jefferson, described Randolph in his dictated memoirs thus: â€œOld Masterâ€™s brother, Mass Randall, was a mighty simple man: used to come out among black people, play the fiddle and dance half the night.â€
There is not a single account of Thomas Jefferson frequenting slave quarters. Nor did Jefferson take any interest in Hemingsâ€™ children. Randolph did, teaching all of Hemingsâ€™ sons to play the fiddle.
Randolph was an unmarried widower when Eston was conceived. After Randolph remarried, Hemings had no more children.
In response to DNA proof that only one of Hemingsâ€™ children was related to any Jefferson male — and her firstborn son was definitely NOT fathered by any Jefferson — the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the Monticello Association and the National Genealogical Society promptly announced their official positions: Thomas Jefferson fathered all six of Hemingsâ€™ children! Guided tours of Monticello today include the provably false information that Jefferson fathered all of Hemingsâ€™ children.
So now you, at least, know the truth — not that it matters in the slightest. Happy Fourth of July!
15 Nov 2016
The Cavalier Daily reports that faculty and students at the University of Virginia signed a letter to that university’s president admonishing her for quoting Thomas Jefferson, who founded that university.
Several professors on Grounds collaborated to write a letter to University President Teresa Sullivan against the inclusion of a Thomas Jefferson quote in her post-election email Nov. 9.
In the email, Sullivan encouraged students to unite in the wake of contentious results, arguing that University students have the responsibility of creating the future they want for themselves.
â€œThomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students â€˜are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,â€™â€ Sullivan said in the email. â€œI encourage todayâ€™s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility.â€
Some professors from the Psychology Department â€” and other academic departments â€” did not agree with the use of this quote. Their letter to Sullivan argued that in light of Jeffersonâ€™s owning of slaves and other racist beliefs, she should refrain from quoting Jefferson in email communications.
â€œWe would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it,â€ the letter read. â€œFor many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.â€
The letter garnered 469 signatures â€” from both students and professors â€” before being sent out via email Nov. 11. Signees included Politics Prof. Nicholas Winter, Psychology Prof. Chad Dodson, Women, Gender and Sexuality Prof. Corinne Field, College Assistant Dean Shilpa DavÃ©, Politics Prof. Lynn Sanders and many more. Asst. Psychology Prof. Noelle Hurd drafted the letter. …
Politics Prof. Lawrie Balfour said she believes everyone who signed the letter, including herself, was grateful that Sullivan responded to anxiety following the election â€” however, many felt it was the wrong moment to turn to Jefferson, following incidents of identity-related hate speech.
â€œIâ€™ve been here 15 years,â€ Balfour said. â€œAgain and again, I have found that at moments when the community needs reassurance and Jefferson appears, it undoes I think the really important work that administrators and others are trying to do.â€
Not all signees believe the University should move away from quoting Jefferson in all email correspondence, including Balfour.
â€œI think we have an opportunity to think about the contradictions that Jefferson embodied,” Balfour said. “The point is not that he is never appropriate, but the point is that the move that says, he owned slaves, but he was a great man, is deeply problematic, and I think it will continue to prevent us from being the kind of inclusive, respectful community that President Sullivan and the rest of us envision.â€
I’m a Jeffersonian Libertarian, but this one is too much for me. I would fire every one of those faculty members and expel every insolent and ungrateful student.
23 Jul 2015
It was widely predicted that historical purging would proceed farther when recently a nation-wide campaign of execration broke out targeting the Confederate flag.
The Connecticut Post confirms the accuracy of those predictions, reporting that:
Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are history in Connecticut.
Under pressure from the NAACP, the state Democratic Party will scrub the names of the two presidents from its annual fundraising dinner because of their ties to slavery.
Party leaders voted unanimously Wednesday night in Hartford to rename the Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner in the aftermath of last monthâ€™s fatal shooting of nine worshipers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.
The decision is believed to be unprecedented and could prompt Democrats in other states with similarly named events to follow suit.
â€œI see it as the right thing to do,â€ Nick Balletto, the partyâ€™s first-year chairman, told Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday night.
â€œI wasnâ€™t looking to be a trailblazer or set off a trend thatâ€™s going to affect the rest of the country. Hopefully, theyâ€™ll follow suit when they see itâ€™s the right thing to do.â€
Democrat Party annual dinners nationally have long been named the Jefferson and Jackson Dinner, since Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are, historically speaking, indisputably the two greatest presidents and the two greatest American leaders associated with that political party. Unless, of course, you are a contemporary subscriber to the Marxist “critical studies” approach to history. In which case, you recognize the democrat party’s notoriously libertarian early icons stood for essentially everything you are against: particularly limited government and individual and states’ rights. Worse yet, both were Southerners and thus slave owners. And General Jackson was notoriously unsympathetic to Native American Rights, defeating the Creek Indians in war and deporting the Cherokee to a designated Indian Territory which would one day become Oklahoma.
What do you do, if you are a radical left-wing democrat obliged to face the reality that your party’s two greatest leaders were ultra-libertarians with little to no commitment to equality-at-any-cost? Obviously, you vote that history out of existence.
16 Jul 2013
Whole Foods produce section, Reno, Nevada
Venkatesh Rao (as is becoming ever more frequent these days, we Americans get our explanations about ourselves from Indians) describes a longstanding American cultural pattern of concealing out Hamiltonian realities behind more pleasing Jeffersonian facades.
Every time you set foot in a Whole Foods store, you are stepping into one of the most carefully designed consumer experiences on the planet. Produce is stacked into black bins in order to accentuate its colour and freshness. Sale items peek out from custom-made crates, distressed to look as though theyâ€™ve just fallen off a farmerâ€™s truck. Every detail in the store, from the font on a sign to a countertopâ€™s wood finish, is designed to make you feel like youâ€™re in a country market. Most of us take these faux-bucolic flourishes for granted, but shopping wasnâ€™t always this way.
George Gilmanâ€™s early A&P stores are the spiritual ancestors of the Whole Foods experience. If you were a native of small-town America in the 1860s, walking into one of Gilmanâ€™s A&P stores was a serious culture shock. You would have stared agog at gaslit signage, advertising, tea in branded packages, and a cashier’s station shaped like a Chinese pagoda. You would have been forced to wrap your head around the idea of mail-order purchases.
Before Gilman, pre-industrial consumption was largely the unscripted consequence of localised, small-scale patterns of production. With the advent of A&P stores, consumerism began its 150-year journey from real farmersâ€™ markets in small towns to fake farmersâ€™ markets inside metropolitan grocery stores. Through the course of that journey, retailing would discover its natural psychological purpose: transforming the output of industrial-scale production into the human-scale experience we call shopping.
Gilman anticipated, by some 30 years, the fundamental contours of industrial-age selling. Both the high-end faux-naturalism of Whole Foods and the budget industrial starkness of Costco have their origins in the original A&P retail experience. The modern system of retail pioneered by Gilman â€” distant large-scale production facilities coupled with local human-scale consumption environments â€” was the first piece of what Iâ€™ve come to think of as the â€˜American cloudâ€™: the vast industrial back end of our lives that we access via a theatre of manufactured experiences. If distant tea and coffee plantations were the first modern clouds, A&P stores and mail-order catalogues were the first browsers and apps. …
The American cloud is the product of a national makeover that started in 1791 with Alexander Hamiltonâ€™s American School of economics â€” a developmental vision of strong national institutions and protectionist policies designed to shelter a young, industrialising nation from British dominance. Hamiltonâ€™s vision was diametrically opposed to Thomas Jeffersonâ€™s competing vision based on small-town, small-scale agrarian economics. Indeed, the story of America is, in many ways, the story of how Hamiltonâ€™s vision came to prevail over Jeffersonâ€™s.
By the early 19th century, Hamiltonâ€™s ideas had crystallised into two complementary doctrines, both known as the â€˜American systemâ€™. The first was senator Henry Clayâ€™s economic doctrine, based on protectionist tariffs, a national bank, and ongoing internal infrastructure improvements. The second was the technological doctrine of precision manufacturing based on interchangeable parts, which emerged around Springfield and Harpers Ferry national armouries. Together, the two systems would catalyse the emergence of an industrial back end in the countryâ€™s heartland, and the establishment of a consumer middle class on the urbanising coasts. But it would take another century, and the development of the internet, for the American cloud to retreat almost entirely from view.
By the 1880s, the two American systems had given rise to a virtuous cycle of accelerating development, with emerging corporations and developing national infrastructure feeding off each other. The result was the first large-scale industrial base: a world of ambitious infrastructure projects, giant corporations and arcane political structures. Small farms gave way to transcontinental railroads, giant dams, Standard Oil and US Steel. The most consequential political activity retreated into complex new governance institutions that few ordinary citizens understood, such as the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the War Industries Board. Politics began to acquire its surreal modern focus on broadly comprehensible sideshows.
Over the course of two centuries, the Hamiltonian makeover turned the isolationist, small-farmer America of Jeffersonâ€™s dreams into the epicentre of the technology-driven, planet-hacking project that we call globalisation. The visible signs of the makeover â€” I call them Hamiltonian cathedrals â€” are unprepossessing. Viewed from planes or interstate highways, grain silos, power plants, mines, landfills and railroad yards cannot compete visually with big sky and vast prairie. Nevertheless, the Hamiltonian makeover emptied out and transformed the interior of America into a technology-dominated space that still deserves the name heartland. Except that now the heart is an artificial one.
The makeover has been so psychologically disruptive that during the past century, the bulk of Americaâ€™s cultural resources have been devoted to obscuring the realities of the cloud with simpler, more emotionally satisfying illusions. These constitute a theatre of pre-industrial community life primarily inspired, ironically enough, by Jeffersonâ€™s small-town visions. This theatre, which forms the backdrop of consumer lifestyles, can be found today inside every Whole Foods, Starbucks and mall in America. I call it the Jeffersonian bazaar.
Read the whole thing.
10 Jun 2011
A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.
–From a letter to John Taylor of Caroline (June 1798)
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