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Parry writes: "On July Fourth, the people of the United States extravagantly celebrate the high-blown expressions on human rights that Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence especially the noble phrase 'all men are created equal.' But Jefferson really didn't believe that or much else that he said and wrote during his lifetime. He was, in reality, a skilled propagandist and a world-class hypocrite."

Painting detail, Thomas Jefferson by Charles Willson Peale, from life, 1791-1792. (photo: Independence National Historical Park)
Painting detail, Thomas Jefferson by Charles Willson Peale, from life, 1791-1792. (photo: Independence National Historical Park)


Thomas Jefferson: America's Founding Sociopath

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

04 July 16

 

When Robert Parry’s article was posted two years ago, the Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton debate vastly favored Jefferson, but the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” has brought new realism about Jefferson’s ugly side.

n July Fourth, the people of the United States extravagantly celebrate the high-blown expressions on human rights that Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence especially the noble phrase “all men are created equal.” But Jefferson really didn’t believe that or much else that he said and wrote during his lifetime. He was, in reality, a skilled propagandist and a world-class hypocrite.

Yet, rather than subject Jefferson to a rigorous examination for his multiple hypocrisies, many Americans insist on protecting Jefferson’s reputation. From the Left, there is a desire to shield the lofty principles contained in the Declaration. From the Right, there is value in pretending that Jefferson’s revisionist concept of the Constitution, one favoring states’ rights over the federal government was the “originalist” view of that founding document.

So, Jefferson perhaps more than any figure in U.S. history gets a pass for what he really was: a self-absorbed aristocrat who had one set of principles for himself and another for everybody else.

Beyond the glaring contradiction between his “all men are created equal” pronouncement and his racist views on African-American slaves, he also lectured others about the need for frugality and the avoidance of debt while he lived a life of personal extravagance and was constantly in arrears to creditors.

Jefferson also wrote provocatively that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” That is one of Jefferson’s famous quotes repeated endlessly these days by both the right-wing Tea Party and would-be leftist revolutionaries.

But Jefferson’s bravado was more a rhetorical flourish than a principle that he was ready to live or die by. In 1781, when he had a chance to put his own blood where his mouth was, when a Loyalist force led by the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold advanced on Richmond, Virginia, then-Gov. Jefferson fled for his life on the fastest horse he could find.

Jefferson hopped on the horse and fled again when a British cavalry force under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton approached Charlottesville and Monticello. Gov. Jefferson abandoned his neighbors in Charlottesville and left his slaves behind at Monticello to deal with the notoriously brutal Tarleton.

In other words, Jefferson may have been America’s original “chicken hawk,” talking cavalierly about other people’s blood as the “manure” of liberty but finding his own too precious to risk. Nevertheless, Jefferson later built his political career by questioning the revolutionary commitment of Alexander Hamilton and even George Washington, who repeatedly did risk their lives in fighting for American liberty.

But what Jefferson’s many apologists have most desperately tried to obscure was his wretched record on race. Some pro-Jefferson scholars still talk about his rhapsodic depictions of the natural beauty of Virginia in his Notes on the State of Virginia, but they skirt the book’s sickening racism, including his pseudo-science of assessing physiological and mental traits of African-Americans to prove that all men were not created equal.

A Question of Rape

For generations, these apologists also have challenged slave Sally Hemings’s late-in-life remembrance to one of her sons, Madison Hemings, describing how Jefferson had imposed himself on her sexually in Paris after she arrived in 1787 as a teen-age slave girl attending one of his daughters.

According to Madison Hemings’s account, his mother “became Mr. Jefferson’s concubine [in Paris]. And when he was called back home she was enciente [pregnant] by him.” Jefferson was insistent that Sally Hemings return with him, but her awareness of the absence of slavery in France gave her the leverage to insist on a transactional trade-off; she would continue to provide sex to Jefferson in exchange for his promise of good treatment and the freedom of her children when they turned 21, Madison Hemings said.

The traditional defense of Jefferson was to portray Sally Hemings as a promiscuous vixen who lied about her relationship with the Great Man to enhance her humble standing. After all, whose word would you believe, that of the estimable Jefferson who publicly decried race mixing or a lowly African-American slave girl?

For decades, the defenders stuck to that dismissive response despite the curious coincidence that Hemings tended to give birth nine months after one of Jefferson’s visits to Monticello and the discovery of male Jefferson DNA in Hemings’s descendants.

Still, the Jefferson apologists raised finicky demands for conclusive proof of the liaison, as if it were absurd to envision that a relatively young man then in his mid-40s, a widower since his wife died in 1782, would have initiated a sexual relationship with an African-American female, even an attractive light-skinned mulatto like Hemings (who was the illegitimate daughter of Jefferson’s father-in-law and thus Jefferson’s late wife’s half-sister)..

Though it’s true that unequivocal evidence does not exist — Hemings did not save a semen-stained blue dress so it could later be subjected to DNA analysis — historians have increasingly come to accept the reality of Jefferson’s sexual relationship with his young slave girl who was only 14 when she moved into Jefferson’s residence in Paris.

So, with this ground shifting under Jefferson’s defensive lines, his apologists retreated to a new position, that the relationship was a true love affair. Hemings was transformed into a kind of modern-day independent woman making her own choices about matters of the heart.

However, given her age and her status as Jefferson’s property the relationship could be more accurately described as serial rape.

But the reality may be even worse. Recent historical examinations of records at Jefferson’s Monticello plantation have provided support for contemporaneous accounts of Jefferson having sexual relations with at least one other slave girl beside Hemings and possibly more.

Fathering of Slaves

Some scholars, such as historian Henry Wiencek in his 2012 book, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, give credence to old reports about Jefferson having a direct role in populating Monticello by fathering his own dark-skinned lookalikes.

“In ways that no one completely understands, Monticello became populated by a number of mixed-race people who looked astonishingly like Thomas Jefferson,” wrote Wiencek. “We know this not from what Jefferson’s detractors have claimed but from what his grandson Jeff Randolph openly admitted. According to him, not only Sally Hemings but another Hemings woman as well ‘had children which resembled Mr. Jefferson so closely that it was plain that they had his blood in their veins.’

“Resemblance meant kinship; there was no other explanation. Since Mr. Jefferson’s blood was Jeff’s blood, Jeff knew that he was somehow kin to these people of a parallel world. Jeff said the resemblance of one Hemings to Thomas Jefferson was ‘so close, that at some distance or in the dusk the slave, dressed in the same way, might be mistaken for Mr. Jefferson.’”

During a dinner at Monticello, Jeff Randolph recounted a scene in which a Thomas Jefferson lookalike was a servant tending to the table where Thomas Jefferson was seated. Randolph recalled the reaction of one guest:

“In one instance, a gentleman dining with Mr. Jefferson, looked so startled as he raised his eyes from the latter to the servant behind him, that his discovery of the resemblance was perfectly obvious to all.”

In the 1850s, Jeff Randolph told a visiting author that his grandfather did not hide the slaves who bore these close resemblances, since Sally Hemings “was a house servant and her children were brought up house servants so that the likeness between master and slave was blazoned to all the multitudes who visited this political Mecca” and indeed a number of visitors did make note of this troubling reality.

Even Jefferson admirer Jon Meacham accepted the truth of the Hemings liaison in Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Meacham cited a quote from Elijah Fletcher, a visitor from Vermont: “The story of Black Sal is no farce That he cohabits with her and has a number of children by her is a sacred truth and the worst of it is, he keeps the same children slaves an unnatural crime which is very common in these parts This conduct may receive a little palliation when we consider that such proceedings are so common that they cease here to be disgraceful.”

Meacham observed that Jefferson “was apparently able to consign his children with Sally Hemings to a separate sphere of life in his mind even as they grew up in his midst. It was, to say the least, an odd way to live, but Jefferson was a creature of his culture.

“‘The enjoyment of a negro or mulatto woman is spoken of as quite a common thing: no reluctance, delicacy or shame is made about the matter,’ Josiah Quincy Jr. of Massachusetts wrote after a visit to the Carolinas. This was daily reality at Monticello.”

This “daily reality” was also a troubling concern among Jefferson’s white family though the Great Man would never confirm or deny his parentage of a number of Monticello’s slaves.

“Frigid indifference forms a useful shield for a public character against his political enemies, but Jefferson deployed it against his own daughter Martha, who was deeply upset by the sexual allegations against her father and wanted a straight answer Yes or no? an answer he would not deign to give,” wrote Wiencek.

Before his death, Jefferson did free several of Sally Hemings’s children or let them run away presumably fulfilling the commitment made in Paris before Hemings agreed to return to Monticello to remain his slave concubine. “Jefferson went to his grave without giving his family any denial of the Hemings charges,” Wiencek wrote.

The historical record increasingly makes Jefferson out to be a serial rapist, exploiting at least one and possibly more girls who were trapped on his property, who indeed were his property, and thus had little choice but to tolerate his sexual advances.

Whipping the Children

The evidence of Jefferson’s sexual predations must also be viewed in the context of his overall treatment of his slaves at Monticello. Though Jefferson’s apologists pretend that he was a kind master distressed over the inequities of a slave system that he could somehow neither correct nor escape, the latest evidence — much of it concealed for generations to protect Jefferson’s image — reveal him to be a cruel slave-owner who carefully calculated the net worth that his human chattel provided him and having boys as young as 10 whipped.

Some of Jefferson’s mistreatment of his slaves derived from another of his hypocrisies, his views about simplicity and solvency. As historian John Chester Miller wrote in his 1977 book, The Wolf by the Ears, “To Jefferson, the abandon with which Americans rushed into debt and squandered borrowed money upon British ‘gew-gaws’ and ‘trumpery’ vitiated the blessings of peace.

“From Paris an unlikely podium from which to sermonize Jefferson preached frugality, temperance, and the simple life of the American farmer. Buy nothing whatever on credit, he exhorted his countrymen, and buy only what was essential. ‘The maxim of buying nothing without money in our pocket to pay for it,’ he averred, ‘would make of our country (Virginia) one of the happiest upon earth.’

“As Jefferson saw it, the most pernicious aspect of the postwar preoccupation with pleasure, luxury, and the ostentatious display of wealth was the irremediable damage it did to ‘republican virtue.’”

But Jefferson himself amassed huge debts and lived the life of a bon vivant, spending way beyond his means. In Paris, he bought fancy clothes, collected fine wines, and acquired expensive books, furniture and artwork. It was, however, his slaves back at Monticello who paid the price for his excesses.

“Living in a style befitting a French nobleman, his small salary often in arrears, and burdened by debts to British merchants which he saw no way of paying, Jefferson was driven to financial shifts, some of which were made at the expense of his slaves. In 1787, for example, he decided to hire out some of his slaves a practice he had hitherto avoided because of the hardship it wreaked upon the slaves themselves,” Miller wrote.

Upon returning to the United States, Jefferson reinvented himself as a more modestly attired republican, but his tastes for the grandiose did not abate. He ordered elaborate renovations to Monticello, which deepened his debt and compelled his slaves to undertake strenuous labor to implement Jefferson’s ambitious architectural designs.

Needing to squeeze more value from his slaves, Jefferson was an aggressive master, not the gentle patrician that his apologists have long depicted.

According to historian Wiencek, Jefferson “directed his manager, Nicholas Lewis, to extract ‘extraordinary exertions’ of labor from the slaves to stay current with his debt payments. Some slaves had endured years of harsh treatment at the hands of strangers, for to raise cash, Jefferson had also instructed Lewis to hire out slaves. He demanded extraordinary exertions from the elderly: ‘The negroes too old to be hired, could they not make a good profit by cultivating cotton?’”

Jefferson was callous as well toward his young slaves. Reviewing long-neglected records at Monticello, Wiencek noted that one plantation report to Jefferson recounted that the nail factory was doing well because “the small ones” ages 10, 11 and 12 were being whipped by overseer, Gabriel Lilly, “for truancy.”

His plantation records also show that he viewed fertile female slaves as exceptionally valuable because their offspring would increase his assets and thus enable him to incur more debt. He ordered his plantation manager to take special care of these “breeding” women.

“A child raised every 2. years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man,” Jefferson wrote. “[I]n this, as in all other cases, providence has made our duties and our interests coincide perfectly.”

According to Wiencek, “The enslaved people were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. Jefferson wrote, ‘I allow nothing for losses by death, but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four per cent. per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers.’ His plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. The percentage was predictable.”

To justify this profiting off slavery, Jefferson claimed that he was merely acting in accordance with “Providence,” which in Jefferson’s peculiar view of religion always happened to endorse whatever action Jefferson wanted to take.

Twisting the Founding Narrative

Yet, while Jefferson’s rationalizations for slavery were repugnant, his twisting of the Founding Narrative may have been even more significant and long-lasting, setting the nation on course for the Civil War, followed by a near century of segregation and carrying forward to the present day with the Tea Party’s claims that states are “sovereign” and that actions by the federal government to promote the general welfare are “unconstitutional.”

The reason the Tea Partiers get away with presenting themselves as “conservative constitutionalists” is that Thomas Jefferson engineered a revisionist interpretation of the Founding document, which as written by the Federalists and ratified by the states created a federal government that could do almost anything that Congress and the President agreed was necessary for the good of the country.

That was the constitutional interpretation of both the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, who mounted a fierce though unsuccessful campaign to defeat the Constitution’s ratification because they recognized how powerful the Constitution’s federal government was. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Made-up ‘Constitution.’”]

Southern Anti-Federalists, such as Patrick Henry and George Mason, argued that the Constitution, though it implicitly accepted slavery, would eventually be used by the North to free the slaves. Or, as Patrick Henry colorfully told Virginia’s ratifying convention in 1788, “they’ll free your niggers!”

Though the Constitution eked through to passage, the fear of Southern plantation owners that they would lose their huge investment in human chattel did not disappear. Indeed, their trepidation intensified as it became clear that many leading Federalists, including the new government’s chief architect Alexander Hamilton, were ardent abolitionists. Hamilton had grown up poor in the West Indies and witnessed first-hand the depravity of slavery.

By contrast, Jefferson had grown up the pampered son of a major Virginia slave-owner, but he developed his own critical view of the evils of slavery. As a young politician, Jefferson had cautiously and unsuccessfully backed some reforms to ameliorate the injustices. In a deleted section of his draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson had denounced slavery, citing it as one of King George III’s crimes.

However, after the Revolution, Jefferson recognized that any anti-slavery position would destroy his political viability among his fellow plantation owners in the South. While in Paris as the U.S. representative, Jefferson rebuffed offers to join the abolitionist Amis des Noirs because by associating with abolitionists he would impair his ability to do “good” in Virginia, historian John Chester Miller noted, adding:

“Jefferson’s political instinct proved sound: as a member of the Amis des Noirs he would have been a marked man in the Old Dominion.”

Self-Interest Over Principle

With his personal financial and political interests aligned with the perpetuation of slavery, Jefferson emerged as the most important leader of the slave South, seeking to reinterpret the Constitution to blunt the potential that the federal government might eventually outlaw slavery.

So, in the 1790s, as Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists worked to create the new government that the Constitution had authorized, Jefferson’s counter-movement emerged to reassert states’ rights as defined by the earlier Articles of Confederation, which the Constitution had obliterated.

Jefferson skillfully reframed the Constitution’s powers not by asserting an explicit defense of slavery but by voicing resistance to a strong central government and reasserting the primacy of the states. Though Jefferson had played no role in drafting the Constitution or the Bill of Rights — he was in Paris at the time — he simply interpreted the Constitution as he wished, similar to his frequent invocation of Providence as always favoring whatever he wanted.

Most significantly, Jefferson developed the concept of “strict construction,” insisting that the federal government could only perform functions specifically mentioned in the text of the Constitution, such as coining money, setting up post offices, etc. Though Jefferson’s concept was silly because the Framers understood that the young country would face unanticipated opportunities and challenges that the government would have to address, Jefferson built a potent political party to make his idea stick.

Jefferson’s strategy was to simply ignore the Constitution’s clear language, particularly its mandate in Article I, Section 8 that Congress “provide for the general Welfare of the United States” and its grant to Congress the power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States.”

Jefferson simply insisted that the Framers hadn’t meant what the Framers had written. Jefferson went even further and reaffirmed the concept of state sovereignty and independence that George Washington, James Madison and other Framers had despised and intentionally expunged when they threw out the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution had shifted national sovereignty away from the states to “We the People of the United States.”

Despite the Constitution’s explicit reference to making federal law “the supreme law of the land,” Jefferson exploited the lingering resentments over ratification to reassert the states’ supremacy over the federal government. Often working behind the scenes even while serving as Vice President under President John Adams Jefferson promoted each state’s right to nullify federal law and even to secede from the Union.

Aiding Jefferson’s cause was the shifting allegiances of James Madison, an early Federalist who had been tapped by Washington to be the principal architect of the Constitution. However, like Jefferson, Madison was a major Virginian slaveholder who recognized that both his political future and his personal fortune were dependent on the continuation of slavery.

So, Madison sold out his earlier Federalist allies and shifted his allegiance to his neighbor, Jefferson. Madison’s break with Washington and Hamilton gave Jefferson’s revisionist take on the Constitution a patina of legitimacy given Madison’s key role as one of the Framers.

Jefferson spelled out this political reality in a 1795 letter to Madison in which Jefferson cited what he called “the Southern interest,” because, as author Jon Meacham observed, “the South was his personal home and his political base.” It was the same for Madison. [For more on Madison’s role, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Dubious Claim to Madison.”]

Warring with the Federalists

In his rise to power, Jefferson waged a nasty propaganda war against the Federalists as they struggled to form a new government and endeavored to stay out of a renewed conflict between Great Britain and France. Jefferson secretly funded newspaper editors who spread damaging personal rumors about key Federalists, particularly Hamilton who as Treasury Secretary was spearheading the new government’s formation.

Jefferson’s governmental actions almost always dovetailed with the interests of slaveholders and his own personal finances. For instance, as Secretary of State during Washington’s first term, Jefferson protested the Federalists’ disinterest in pursuing compensation from Great Britain for slaves freed during the Revolutionary War, a high priority for Jefferson and his plantation-owning allies. Jefferson correctly perceived that Hamilton and John Jay, two staunch opponents of slavery, had chosen not to make compensation a high priority.

Also Jefferson’s interest in siding with France against Great Britain was partly colored by his large financial debts owed to London lenders, debts that might be voided or postponed if the United States went to war against Great Britain.

Then, in the latter 1790s with French agents aggressively intervening in U.S. politics to push President John Adams into that war against Great Britain, the Federalist-controlled Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which Jefferson’s political movement deftly exploited to rally opposition to the overreaching Federalists.

By the election of 1800, Jefferson had merged his political base in the slave-economy South with an anti-Federalist faction in New York to defeat Adams for reelection. The three-fifths clause, a concession by the Constitutional Convention to the South allowing slaves to be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of representation, proved crucial to Jefferson’s victory.

As President, Jefferson took more actions that advanced the cause of his slaveholding constituency, largely by solidifying his “states’ rights” interpretation of the Constitution. But Jefferson and his revisionist views faced a formidable opponent in Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, a fellow Virginian though one who considered slavery the likely ruin of the South.

As historian Miller wrote: “While Jefferson could account for Hamilton a West Indian ‘adventurer’ goaded by ambition, unscrupulous in attaining his ends, and wholly devoid of state loyalties he could not understand how John Marshall, a Virginian who, under happier circumstances, Jefferson might have called ‘cousin John,’ could cast off all feeling for his ‘country’ (i.e. Virginia) and go over to the ‘enemy’

“As Marshall saw it, Jefferson was trying to turn the clock back to the Articles of Confederation a regression that would totally paralyze the federal government. ‘The government of the whole will be prostrated at the feet of the members [the states],’ Marshall predicted, ‘and the grand effort of wisdom, virtue, and patriotism, which produced it, will be totally defeated.’

“The question of slavery never bulked larger on Jefferson’s horizon than when John Marshall, from the eminence of the Supreme Court, struck down acts of the state legislatures and aggrandized the powers of the federal government. For slavery could not be divorced from the conflict between the states and the general government: as the Supreme Court went, so might slavery itself go.

“States’ rights were the first line of defense of slavery against antislavery sentiment in Congress, and Jefferson had no intention of standing by idly while this vital perimeter was breached by a troop of black-robed jurists.”

Selling Out the Haitians

Jefferson also reversed the Federalists’ support for the slave rebellion in St. Domingue (now Haiti), which had overthrown a ruthlessly efficient French plantation system that had literally worked the slaves to death. The violence of that revolution on both sides shocked Jefferson and many of his fellow slaveholders who feared that the rebellion might inspire American blacks to rise up next.

Alexander Hamilton, who despised slavery from his experience growing up in the West Indies, assisted the black slave leader, the self-taught and relatively moderate Toussaint L’Ouverture, in drafting a constitution, and the Adams administration sold weapons to the former slaves.

After taking over the White House, however, President Jefferson reversed those Federalist policies. He conspired secretly with the new French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte on a French plan to retake St. Domingue with an expeditionary force that would re-enslave the blacks. Jefferson only learned later that Napoleon had a second phase of the plan, to move to New Orleans and build a new French colonial empire in the heart of North America.

Napoleon’s army succeeded in capturing L’Ouverture, who was taken to France and killed, but L’Ouverture’s more radical followers annihilated the French army and declared their independence as a new republic, Haiti.

The Haitians’ bloody victory had important consequences for the United States as well. Stopped from moving on to New Orleans, Napoleon decided to sell the Louisiana Territories to Jefferson, who thus stood to benefit from the Haitian freedom fighters whom Jefferson had sold out. Still fearing the spread of black revolution, Jefferson also organized a blockade of Haiti, which helped drive the war-torn country into a spiral of violence and poverty that it has never escaped.

However, Jefferson also faced a constitutional quandary, since he had espoused the ludicrous notion of “strict construction” and there was no specific constitutional language authorizing the purchase of new lands. The solution for Jefferson, the consummate hypocrite, was simply to violate his own principle and proceed with the Louisiana Purchase.

This vast new territory also opened up huge opportunities for Southern slaveholders, especially because the Constitution had called for the end of slave importation in 1808, meaning that the value of the domestic slave trade skyrocketed. That was especially important for established slave states like Virginia where the soil for farming was depleted.

Breeding slaves became a big business for the Commonwealth and enhanced Jefferson’s personal net worth, underscoring his notations about valuing female “breeder” slaves even above the strongest males.

Inviting the Civil War

But the danger to the nation was that spreading slavery to the Louisiana Territories and admitting a large number of slave states would worsen tensions between North and South.

As Miller wrote, “Jefferson might have averted the struggle between the North and South, free and slave labor, for primacy in the national domain the immediate, and probably the only truly irrepressible, cause of the Civil War. Instead, Jefferson raised no objections to the continued existence of slavery in the Louisiana Purchase.

“Had he the temerity to propose that Louisiana be excluded from the domestic slave trade he would have encountered a solid bloc of hostile votes from south of the Mason-Dixon line. Jefferson was fond of saying that he never tilted against windmills, especially those that seemed certain to unhorse him. Jefferson neither took nor advocated any action that would weaken slavery among the tobacco and cotton producers in the United States.”

Indeed, keeping the new territories and states open to slavery became a major goal of Jefferson as President and after he left office.

Miller wrote, “In the case of the federal government, he could easily imagine circumstances perhaps they had already been produced by John Marshall which justified [the South’s] secession: among them was the emergence of a central government so powerful that it could trample willfully upon the rights of the states and destroy any institution, including slavery, which it judged to be immoral, improper, or inimical to the national welfare as defined by Washington, D.C.

“Confronted by such a concentration of power, Jefferson believed that the South would have no real option but to go its own way.”

Miller continued, “As the spokesman of a section whose influence was dwindling steadily in the national counsels and which was threatened with the ‘tyranny’ of a consolidated government dominated by a section hostile to the institutions and interests of the South, Jefferson not only took the side of slavery, he demanded that the right of slavery to expand at will everywhere in the national domain be acknowledged by the Northern majority.”

In the last major political fight of his life, Jefferson battled Northern efforts to block the spread of slavery into Missouri. “With the alarm bell sounding in his ears, Jefferson buckled on the armor of Hector and took up the shield of states’ rights,” wrote Miller. “Jefferson, in short, assumed the accoutrements of an ardent and an uncompromising champion of Southern rights. Possessed by this martial spirit, Jefferson now asserted that Congress had no power over slavery in the territories.

“Now he was willing to accord Congress power only to protect slavery in the territories and he converted the doctrine of states’ rights into a protective shield for slavery against interference by a hostile federal government. He was no longer concerned primarily with civil liberties or with the equalization of the ownership of property but in insuring that slave-owners were protected in the full plentitude of their property rights.

“The Missouri dispute seemed to mark the strange death of Jeffersonian liberalism.”

Rationalizing Slavery

Jefferson’s fight to extend slavery into Missouri also influenced his last notable personal achievement, the founding of the University of Virginia. He saw the establishment of a first-rate educational institution in Charlottesville, Virginia, as an important antidote to elite Northern schools influencing the Southern aristocracy with ideas that could undermine what Jefferson dubbed “Missourism,” or the right of all states carved from the Louisiana Territories to practice slavery.

Jefferson complained that Southern men, who traveled North for their college education, were infused with “opinions and principles in discord with those of their own country,” by which he meant the South, Miller wrote, adding:

“Particularly if they attended Harvard University, they returned home imbued with ‘anti-Missourism,’ dazzled by the vision of ‘a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions and moneyed corporations’ and utterly indifferent to or even contemptuous of the old-fashioned Southern patriots who still manned the defenses of freedom, equality, and democracy”, revealing again how words in Jefferson’s twisted world had lost all rational meaning. Slavery became “freedom, equality, and democracy.”

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 that barred slavery in new states north of the 36-degree-30 parallel “made the creation of such a center of learning imperative” to Jefferson, wrote Miller, thus driving his determination to make the University of Virginia a Southern school that would rival the great colleges of the North and would train young Southern minds to resist federal “consolidationism.”

Even the Jefferson-admiring Meacham noted the influence of the Missouri dispute in Jefferson’s zeal to launch his university in Charlottesville. “The Missouri question made Jefferson even more eager to get on with the building of the University of Virginia for he believed the rising generation of leaders should be trained at home, in climes hospitable to his view of the world, rather than sent north,” Meacham wrote.

In short, Jefferson had melded the twin concepts of slavery and states’ rights into a seamless ideology. As Miller concluded, “Jefferson began his career as a Virginian; he became an American; and in his old age he was in the process of becoming a Southern nationalist.”

When he died on July 4, 1826, a half century after the Declaration of Independence was first read to the American people, Jefferson had set the nation on course for the Civil War.

However, even to this day, Jefferson’s vision of “victimhood” for white Southerners seeing themselves as persecuted by Northern power — yet blinded to the racist cruelty that they inflict on blacks — remains a powerful motivation for white anger, now spreading beyond the South.

Today, we see Jefferson’s racist legacy in the nearly deranged hatred directed at the first African-American president and in the unbridled fury unleashed against the federal government that Barack Obama heads.

As unpleasant as it may be for Americans who prefer especially on July Fourth to ponder the pleasant image of Jefferson as the aristocratic republican with a taste for fine art and a fondness for free-thinking, it is well past time to look at the Declaration’s author as the person he really was, America’s founding sociopath.



Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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+35 # ericlane 2016-07-04 15:41
Perry makes good points, with the benefit of hindsight. That same hindsight should also allow us to view some of the positive points of Jefferson's life. For example, before the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson drafted the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom that passed the Virginia legislature in 1786. This singular event was the forerunner to the first clause of the First Amendment separating church from state and making freedom of conscience real as opposed to imagined. Without separation of church and state or liberty of conscience, I would argue that slavery would still exist today, women would still be property, and only propertied white men over 35 would be able to vote. Why? Because the state religion would have demanded complete obedience or banishment or death. Hindsight can't be used simply as a cudgel. It needs to be more nuanced. Jefferson was a southerner and, unlike most southerners then and today, didn't use religion to beat citizens into submission.
 
 
+18 # Farafalla 2016-07-04 22:17
But the religious window opens the door to irrational justifications for positions that diverge from the democratic paradigm, such as owning people.
 
 
+66 # newell 2016-07-04 16:13
Hindsight is just an excuse. All humans know that rape and slavery are wrong--at any point in history. Whether or not they will admit it is another thing.
 
 
+3 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2016-07-06 13:09
Quoting newell:
Hindsight is just an excuse. All humans know that rape and slavery are wrong--at any point in history. Whether or not they will admit it is another thing.
So, David knew it. All the Old Testament writers knew it. Jesus and his disciples knew it. All the kings of Europe knew it.

And yet, despite knowing that slavery was wrong, throughout the bulk of recorded history, "all humans" who were in a position to own slaves condoned it.

Hindsight is not just an excuse. The culture of each Time frames right and wrong as much as empirical truths because what is obvious today may not have been so obvious thousands of years ago. Much of today's sin was yesterday's daily life. And, oddly, today's virtues were often castigated as sin in centuries past.
 
 
+55 # Ken Halt 2016-07-04 20:41
In US public schools I was taught to revere TJ as an eloquent man who stood for freedom and equality, the fact that he championed slavery was not an issue. As I've learned more about him my respect has dwindled. He was an avowed anti-federalist and as Sec'y of State under Washington, a strong federalist, he employed a man in the state dept whose sole responsibility was to produce scurrilous pamphlets maligning GW. John Adams and GW came to know him as a treacherous friend, could there be any worse evaluation from two of the most principled founding fathers ? Perhaps the most damning evidence was published in the Oct 2012 issue of Smithsonian Magazine: TJ's revolutionary friend Thaddeus Kosciuszko bequeathed him $20,000 to free TJ's slaves and purchase land and farming equipment for them. TJ refused the gift because his financial calculations expected a higher yield from keeping them as slaves. TJ was a talented but unscrupulous man of flexible moral character, Parry's reevaluation is well-justified.
 
 
+44 # Farafalla 2016-07-04 22:14
This is more awesome than I expected. I'm glad I read it today. I knew bits and pieces, never the whole narrative. With "Hamilton" as a major Broadway hit, I wonder if we will start to see history differently. I sure am after reading this.
 
 
+8 # jdd 2016-07-05 05:36
Maybe, but the truth about Hamilton and Jefferson should have been revealed long ago, as a simple read of the "Federalist Papers" would make clear. Jefferson was a spokesman for the Southern slavocracy that feared a strong national government would intrude upon their slave system. Thus Hamilton, who created the American economic and constitutional system, was opposed by Jefferson at every turn. The great ideas of the Declaration were long abandoned by Jefferson who, under the direct tutelage of Benjamin Franklin, had been inspired by Franklin to author them in 1776. The issue is not merely history as the legacy of Jefferson, and his wretched followers such as the treasonous Aaron Burr and the vile Andrew Jackson, continue to plague the Democratic Party, where Jefferson, not the great Hamilton (FDR excepted), is looked to a an intellectual model.
 
 
+12 # Radscal 2016-07-05 15:30
Hamilton was not without blemish. He maneuvered the payment of the debt the Colonies had accumulated in the Revolutionary War such that the soldiers who fought the war were left unpaid, while the financial interests who floated loans were fully compensated with handsome profits.

Then, he pushed for the Whisky Tax which was specifically designed to drive small farmers into debt, resulting in their farms being foreclosed by those same financial interests. And many of those small farm owners were actual Revolutionary War veterans.

And he knew all along that this tax (which the farmers could never afford to pay) would be rejected, and so his goal of creating a standing army was made manifest by the need to suppress the "insurrection."

BTW: I find no evidence that Hamilton ever personally fought in the Revolution. He was as much a "chicken hawk" as was Jefferson.

Yes, he favored urban manufacture over rural plantations. But he was all about enriching the elite by breaking the backs of the working classes.

I highly recommend William Hogeland's excellent book, "The Whisky Rebellion" to get a more rounded view of Hamilton.
 
 
-67 # babaregi 2016-07-04 22:52
Oh Joy!!

Another White male icon righteously neutered by a SJW to demoralize the rest of the White boys.

So gratifying, so gratifying to you SJWs, isn't it?

Who is the next evil target? (must be a White male to be accepted on this site).

---------------------------------------

Do you want the blue pill or the red pill? --Morpheus, The Matrix


"What Pisses Me Off About Social Justice Warriors"--a Youtube video about the War on Men by Stefan Molyneux


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyrF25ZDG5E
 
 
+29 # jsluka 2016-07-04 23:27
A sh_thead is a sh_thead, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or 'race.' I don't think Jefferson's gender or 'race' (that is, his skin color) has anything to do with telling the truth about him, or anything to do with this story. Babaregi seems to be suggesting that 'white' males should be immune from telling the truth about them because they are soooo 'picked on'. My heart bleeds for them (not).
 
 
-49 # babaregi 2016-07-04 23:33
Quoting jsluka:
A sh_thead is a sh_thead, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or 'race.' I don't think Jefferson's gender or 'race' (that is, his skin color) has anything to do with telling the truth about him. Babaregi seems to believe that 'white' males should be immune from the telling the truth about them.


Of course, you're correct but my point is that it's been open season on white men for nearly 50 years and SJWs are mindlessly leading the charge without assessing the damage it's causing to our society.

You guys never voluntarily bring up the subject and carefully frame all posted discussions so the subject never comes up for honest debate.

What white men feel is deemed immaterial and dismissed among the leftist cognoscenti that only cater to women's needs (for a variety of reasons).

The video, you didn't watch (naturally), explains this further.
 
 
+24 # Missrayraythegreat 2016-07-05 00:52
But it's been literal open season on every other effing race of people....men,w omen,and children for centuries. Miss me with that sh*t
 
 
-28 # babaregi 2016-07-05 09:58
Quoting Missrayraythegreat:
But it's been literal open season on every other effing race of people....men,women,and children for centuries. Miss me with that sh*t


Little Miss Feminist doubling down on your hatred of white men and enjoying your justifications and privileges granted in modern times. Working over men is a very effective tool that western women employ to get resources.

Many men are disgusted with your ways and are opting out from relating to you. You still have the State to provide for you so enjoy your freedom to bash men and still get the goodies. You go girl!

An enlightened woman's point of view:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlvMAS_20K4
 
 
+11 # Missrayraythegreat 2016-07-05 12:36
I hate white men not....so kindly excuse the hell out of yourself. Privileges. Where, may I inquire? I am a black, college educated woman in the fukking American south. I Possess no privileges. Most people can NOT relate to me. Don't assume. It makes you look feeble.
 
 
+4 # Pickwicky 2016-07-05 14:04
Can we also hate TJ because he passed off Mozart's music as his own? Oh, yes we can!!
 
 
+16 # Merlin 2016-07-05 02:04
babaregi 2016-07-04 23:33

"The video, you didn't watch (naturally), explains this further."

Well, I managed to stomach about half (12 mins) of this "preacher" talking nonsense derived from his screwed up psychology. The only thing I gained is a better idea of where you are coming from if he is your guru. There was nothing of value in his message.

So who are you? A white or Asian male? Describe yourself. Be personal and specific.
 
 
-21 # babaregi 2016-07-05 09:56
Quoting Missrayraythegreat:
But it's been literal open season on every other effing race of people....men,women,and children for centuries. Miss me with that sh*t


Quoting Merlin:
babaregi 2016-07-04 23:33

"The video, you didn't watch (naturally), explains this further."

Well, I managed to stomach about half (12 mins) of this "preacher" talking nonsense derived from his screwed up psychology. The only thing I gained is a better idea of where you are coming from if he is your guru. There was nothing of value in his message.

So who are you? A white or Asian male? Describe yourself. Be personal and specific.



You can't stomach the truth, I got it!
That's the problem with SJWs.

Why should I provide you with personal information that you can further target when it's clear that you aren't interested in or capable of considering another point of view?

I don't expect to convince a politically-cor rect bigot that his prejudice is his own construction and not based on reality (but rather on group-think).
 
 
+5 # meanstreak 2016-07-05 11:12
what does SJW stand for?
 
 
-7 # babaregi 2016-07-05 12:01
Quoting meanstreak:
what does SJW stand for?


Social Justice Warrior

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/social-justice-warrior
 
 
+5 # ericlipps 2016-07-05 13:16
Quoting babaregi:
Quoting meanstreak:
what does SJW stand for?


Social Justice Warrior

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/social-justice-warrior

Not, by any chance, "single Jewish woman"?

And oh, yes, exactly what's wrong with "social justice"?
 
 
-12 # babaregi 2016-07-05 14:42
Quoting ericlipps:



And oh, yes, exactly what's wrong with "social justice"?


Nothing is wrong with social justice; just as long as it isn't at the expense of someone else. SJWs don't believe in that concept but want to convince others that they do.
 
 
0 # JJS 2016-07-07 05:35
Sounds like babaregi is trying to promote a new derogatory label to replace "Liberal".
 
 
+6 # Radscal 2016-07-05 15:37
Uh huh. After 500 years of world domination, I finally became a middle-aged white male just in time for that to become an oppressed minority.

Oh how I wish I'd been born a poor, black lesbian with disabilities so I could take advantage of all the great perquisites they get.

Give me a frigging break! We must all face reality and admit the truth. My ancestors came to the US to flee hundreds of years of oppression, and arrived just in time to fight in the War Between the States. Some died fighting for the liberty of people they'd never met, nor had any role in subjugating.

And yet, I openly acknowledge that, while my ancestors and I had nothing to do with the "peculiar institution," except to help end it, I have benefitted personally from the good fortune of having won the sperm and egg lottery.
 
 
+11 # jdd 2016-07-05 07:58
Nobody is demonizing "white males," just Thomas Jefferson, and rightly so. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Ben Franklin, John Q. Adams, Abraham Lincoln, FDR and JFK were all "white males," among others, worthy of our admiration and respect. Just because he's carved into Mt. Rushmore doesn't make him great, after all arch-racist and imperialist Teddy Roosevelt is there too. Perhaps they could be re-carved into Frederick Douglass and MLK.
 
 
-17 # babaregi 2016-07-05 11:04
Quoting jdd:
Nobody is demonizing "white males," just Thomas Jefferson, and rightly so. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Ben Franklin, John Q. Adams, Abraham Lincoln, FDR and JFK were all "white males," among others, worthy of our admiration and respect.



Are you kidding me? Putting down white males is pervasive in our culture and has been for decades:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URs_gh-QNN8

RSN didn't feature good examples (like you mentioned) but chose to focus on the negative example, albeit factual.

I merely wedged in my commentary since you folks would NEVER bring up the subject of Men's issues otherwise. It's such a toxic culture for men because our culture doesn't even recognize the problem.

SJWs are the cheerleaders to hold this insanity in place.

This may be partially the result of Cultural Marxism (communist strategy to undermine USA stability through support of feminism); not to mention the elite's intention to break up the family unit in order to replace it with the State:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCpjmvaIgNA

SJW manginas hop on board immediately to show solidarity with women's wishes in order to get laid. Smart men are waking up to this so there is the beginning of some long overdue push-back. Regressive SJWs may be the last to wise up.
 
 
+1 # PCPrincess 2016-07-07 08:43
Although some of what you post seems a bit like overkill, I can relate to what you are saying. I am a woman, have never related to women and because I don't care much for the self-inflicted tamping down on speech that is political correctness, I can say that I think many women at times are vengeful, hateful, judging, jealous creatures.

Now, I can say that because I believe that the percentage of women who seem to be this way is roughly equivalent to the percent of all humans I find to be somewhat ignorant, which in my estimation is likely 75% of the human population. By ignorant, I mean grossly unaware and lacking in critical thinking skills and/or lacking in any measurable levels of empathy which is required for successful human interaction.

Why do I feel the need to cringe when this fact pertains to women? Having been no stranger to social discussions over the last few decades, a child growing up hearing about supposed women's empowerment, I would have expected more of women, so, as a women, it may frustrate me more. However, as I just previously mentioned, there remains a good %25 of citizenry that possesses intelligence, thoughtfulness, ethics, empathy, and respect for others, etc.

So, although I might like to spout off from time to time because the idiots always seem to have control of the media and government, etc. there always remains a few good exceptions. In short, we shouldn't generalize about whole populations.
 
 
+4 # meanstreak 2016-07-05 11:11
Realize that Washington had slaves. Lincoln wrote about black inferiority. Human beings are multifacted and change in behavior with influence and education.

Jefferson with Benjamin Franklin distilled all the thinking of the enlightenment philosopers into the most important scripture of all. Our constitution and Declaration of Independence.
 
 
+22 # lfeuille 2016-07-04 23:18
Jefferson has always been my least favorite founder specifically because of states right and slavery. That the man who wrote the Declaration Of Independence chose to be a slave owner was too much of an hypocrisy flag. But it didn't know how cruel he was as a slave owner. He was really a pretty despicable character.
 
 
+16 # Dred Pierce 2016-07-05 01:07
Being raised in the South, I was always amazed at the way the people there regard themselves as very Christian to the point of chosen yet are apologists for the worst abuses of human beings on record. I have often compared the 'slavery' of the Jews by Egypt with the slavery of Blacks by the Southern Christians. I had to come to the conclusion that to enslave a Jew is an entirely different matter than enslaving a Black person among Southern Christians. Jefferson was a POS and hopefully the South will NEVER rise again.
 
 
-1 # Glen 2016-07-05 06:36
What part of the South? There are sections in the South that do not meet the stereo type so hated today. The Deep South is just a cluster of states, such as Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, that are historically at variance with those farther to the north, such as Virginia. I don't know any Southerner today that considers Virginia or Texas as Southern.

Religion in the South is required, and that applies to the oldest generation, the younger ones not so much. It is just one more badge of separation, not a spiritual exercise that follows the teaching of Jesus.

Enslaving blacks was not at all limited to the South, but yes, blacks were helpless and abused a long time before they were brought ashore in the U.S.
 
 
+17 # ericlane 2016-07-05 08:58
I would take Texas out of your non-slave South. Texas is extremely racist. It was one of the 7 original states to secede. And it is the state where the wealthy southern slave owners sat out the Civil War in safety. Many are still here today and when you go toward Dallas and East, there you run into strong Southern Baptists, the religion of the old slave owners.
 
 
+1 # Glen 2016-07-05 14:10
Correct, but as far as today's assessment of The South, Texas has a style of its own, regardless of Civil War days. Not too many folks in Birmingham AL regard Texas as a partner.

Don't forget the number of people who have immigrated into the South, from many countries. Atlanta is the perfect example of modern transformation into a newer era.
 
 
+5 # Patriot 2016-07-05 01:36
News flash: Many of the men who helped to develop the Constitution in its final form were slave-owners, then and for decades afterward. If you are disillusioned by learning this, I can only surmise that

(1) you were never taught these facts in grammar school or high school, nor the rest of the story, which was that, from Washington onward, most Southern colonists who represented their colonies and towns in deliberative/le gislative bodies also were slave-owners, and most of them were well aware of the hypocrasy of espousing a free nation, yet "owning" humans. They also were trapped in an economic system of agriculture that could not support scarce, paid (free white) labor, yet found slave labor very, very expensive even if more readily procurable.

or that (2) you are prepared to judge a society of more than 200 years past by today's terms, an inexcusable and intellectually arrogant exercise. Suppose you reverse the view, and consider what our society is like, compared to theirs:

We have millions of illegitimate children, even in "respectable" families, and millions of unmarried couples openly, permanently living together, despite the fact that such unions are unstable and provide neither party, nor their illegitimate children, any protection under the law, conduct that would have rendered colonials pariahs by their communities.

[continued]
 
 
+11 # Patriot 2016-07-05 01:45
[continued]

Our record on the treatment on non-whites is even worse than theirs, especially the treatment of Native Americans, who still live on reservations without adequate plumbing, medical care, schools, or law enforcement--no t to mention jobs and hope for the future.

We have the greatest freedom in the world, a right Jefferson and his generation--and all the succeding generations until the middle of the 20th centure--did not have: the right to vote, yet less than 25% of eligible voters even bother to do so.

Jefferson and the men of his generation risked their lives to free themselves and their fellow colonists from the tryanny of the English Crown, then applied their brilliant but very human and fallible minds to the problem of creating a form of government that had never before existed, hoping that succeeding generations would improve upon it as necessary, yet afraid that future generations might let it degrade into what we have today: an oligarchy, about to choose between two of the worst candidates who have ever stood for the office of the Presidency.

They tried, they fought, they hoped for the nation they founded and left to us.

You are very critical, but what have YOU done for the United States? What are you even qualified to do? What are you wlling to do?
 
 
+3 # newell 2016-07-05 05:12
Right to vote?-- for a rich dude or a wantabe rich dude. Maybe if we had a direct democracy we could vote on war, income, education, health, climate change or endangered species. ......And what would "YOU" have done to stop rape and slavery? vote for slaveholder #1 or slaveholder #2?
 
 
+7 # RMDC 2016-07-05 06:09
Patriot -- yes, you are right. Most people were not taught that in school THe "founding fathers" created a slavocracy, not a democracy. Slavey was the key to the wealth of the new nation. The South was the richest part of the country. Three commodities were the biggest money makers on earth, more valuable than gold -- tobacco, cotton, sugar.

The Constitution -- which Jefferson did not have a hand in writing -- was a slavocrat document. It made sure the South would dominate the central regime. From Washington to Lincoln, all presidents except for two were slave owners. That was the intention.
 
 
+9 # Salus Populi 2016-07-05 12:06
Actually, depending on the defining circumstances, either four or five presidents prior to Lincoln owned no slaves: in addition to the Adamses, both Fillmore and Pierce never owned slaves, and Buchanan purchased the two his brother-in-law owned, and immediately made them indentured servants [hence the question of whether he was "technically" a slave owner or not].
 
 
+21 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2016-07-05 03:08
I wonder if Jefferson didn't also influence, albeit from afar, the inclusion of the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights. That Amendment was promoted by Southern slave owners desirous of suppressing possible slave rebellions. It has of course in modern times become the source of this country's epidemic of gun violence.
 
 
+9 # tigerlillie 2016-07-05 04:14
I was aware that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, but I had not realized the extent to which he was a complete and unrepentant asshole. It would be very interesting to learn more about his daughter, Martha, who was surrounded by the physical evidence of her father's sexual activity, but still found it necessary for him to confirm or deny the rumors.
 
 
+18 # Timshel 2016-07-05 06:01
If nothing else, the flaws of Jefferson do not make Hamilton a good person. He was a monarchist and apparently did not like or respect other people very much. Idealizing Hamilton is as much hooey as idealizing Jefferson.
 
 
+11 # Salus Populi 2016-07-05 12:14
None of the so-called "founding fathers" [or coupsters, to put it in plain English] withstands much scrutiny; the reverence with which they are discussed in the mainstream history books and taught in school makes for good propaganda and a reactionary outlook -- its intention, afaics -- but teaches next to nothing about real history. But then, USians are in general among both the most self-satisfied and smug and the most abysmally ignorant people of any industrialized country on Earth, as well as the most boastful of their imagined own knowledge and insight.
 
 
+8 # Radscal 2016-07-05 15:57
Thomas Paine was probably the most revolutionary of the "Founding Fathers." His conviction to justice nearly got his head lopped off in France, and resulted in his being ridiculed and left impoverished in the US.

While he served the goals of the elite by rousing the rabble, and convincing them to take up arms to fight the palace revolution for the elite, he was never a member of "The Big Club" as George Carlin defined it.
 
 
+1 # Salus Populi 2016-07-08 19:07
Nor was John Adams's cousin Sam Adams, a bar owner and rabble rouser who readily signed the Declaration, but had no use for the coupsters' "Constitution."
 
 
+7 # RMDC 2016-07-05 06:06
Thanks for this. I've always though better of Jefferson -- his contradictions and all. I think he is a stereotypical aristocrat. They always have contradictory positions. They say nice things but do horrible things.

I did read a book on the Jefferson Hemmings relationship a dozen years ago. It was more than just rape. He was with her for the rest of his life. They were partners in some says, even though she was still his slave. We have to remember that slaves are pretty smart at working many slave owners.

Some of the things in the Dec. of Independence are good, esp. the point about the right of a people to alter or replace a bad government. The "all men are equal" part is a nice thought but it takes a lot of work. Jefferson did not believe it very far.
 
 
+25 # guomashi 2016-07-05 06:35
What Jefferson did was the norm, not just for his time, and not just for African American slaves.

Sexual abuse of female slaves was routinely practiced upon white women who had come to America as indentured servants, with the added benefit that any time they spent pregnant was added to their years of service, since they weren't capable of working at full capacity during those years. A large number committed suicide before earning their freedom.

Sexual abuse of slaves of both genders was common all the way back to Roman times. Any slave could be used in any way possible at any time, or put to death for resistance, or for nothing for that matter.

And let's not even begin to discuss the Biblical attitude towards slavery...

Under the circumstances, it is all the more miraculous that the words "all men are created equal" could come from his pen.

No one is perfect, and everyone is a product of their time. America is still dependent upon slave labor, we just export slavery to Asian sweatshops and pretend our hands are clean.
 
 
+3 # newell 2016-07-05 14:08
I take exception, not that slavery was singular to the U.S., but that it was legal to rape indentured servants--it was not. They were not kept in chains and they could runaway as they were easier to blend in than blacks. Abuse was common, but it is not comparable to U.S slavery. Many people knew slavery was wrong and voiced that, but all people know rape and putting others in chains is wrong, even though because of greed or selfishness, they wouldn't admit it. No, the founding fathers that were slaveholders did so because they thought, being part of the 1%, the landed gentry, that they were entitled. The 1% today, the entitled, would rape and own slaves today if they could get away with it. And "all men are created equal" was meant for white male landowners. They never meant for the working class to govern itself, anymore then, than now. It's why we get to vote for a rich politician or a wantabe rich politician. And dropping bombs on civilians or raping the planet may be the norm for our time--but it is not what I will accept. Neither will Bernie Sanders, a real father to our nation, which is why we support him.
 
 
+5 # guomashi 2016-07-05 16:44
Quoting newell:
I take exception, not that slavery was singular to the U.S., but that it was legal to rape indentured servants--it was not. They were not kept in chains and they could runaway as they were easier to blend in than blacks. Abuse was common, but it is not comparable to U.S slavery.


You are mistaken.
Check your history.
Pregnancy = 3 more years service.
Claims of rape were routinely dismissed due to the fact that persons of that class were considered to be inherently immoral.
Running away resulted in extension of the contract if caught.
Flogging was perfectly legal.
This system started already by 1619, among the first African slaves.
Permanent slavery only became a legal doctrine in the 1640s.
etc.
 
 
-2 # Pickwicky 2016-07-07 15:07
Do we excuse terrorists because attacking people is the "norm" for them? Where did you learn how to think, quomashi?
 
 
+11 # geohorse 2016-07-05 06:56
Comparing what is possible in different ages is not really fair. Thankfully, much of humanity has evolved positively while those who have been militarily trashed by the powerful big money people (the middle east) are fighting back the only way they know how, with total brutality. What would we do if China walked in, killed our leaders, took over our lands and said you gotta be nice to us cause we know the best way to run societies?

So much has been written about Jefferson from today's perspective that you can take your pick as to what opinions to hold. For instance, there was a report in Nature on the DNA results concerning the Hemmings family. It turned out that Sally's oldest child (the one who historians said for sure was Jefferson's) turned out to be not. Several of the others turned out to have Jefferson DNA yet there was a cautionary fact to consider that Jefferson's nephews were known to be constant party guys in the slave quarters suggesting that there were no definitive answers as to which individual was responsible. Of course science is falsifiable, unlike faith in whatever narrative suits the purpose of the times.
 
 
+5 # Radscal 2016-07-05 16:12
Slave owners of the 18th century were generally quite aware of the powerful arguments against it. Thomas Paine wrote eloquently about the equality of the races. Earlier abolitionists had already banned slavery in several of the colonies. The fact that Great Britain was banning the slave trade could have had more to do with the revolution than the tax on paper.
 
 
+1 # John S. Browne 2016-07-07 03:07
#

Exactly, Peggy ("GeoHorse"), I was hoping someone would make this distinction (hopefully so I wouldn't have to). But I would add that the "truth" on such matters as this particular subject matter depends on what "historians" one believes. Most people are liars, but to varying degrees, so I don't trust ANY "historians". They usually write "history" for powerful elitist "oligarchists" who seek to rewrite history to benefit their cause(s), in most cases the cause(s) of a banded-together oligarchy, such as through the secret societies, and mostly to benefit that minority majority's [sic(k)] obscene profiting off the backs of others, their wealth, their power, and their maintaining their obscene wealth and power at all costs (no matter how many people and species "have to" die, and how much the environment "has to be" destroyed), exploitation at its most extreme, as well as so they can propagandize the masses, keep them dumbed-down about true history and the real, most-important truth(s), and thus by and large conquered and subservient, and so they won't rise up and take their power back from the mass-murdering oligarchy, thus disempowering the latter.

(Continued below)
 
 
+1 # John S. Browne 2016-07-07 03:08
#

Again, think George Orwell's '1984'. Sending true history down the "memory hole" (aka, no memory of it), and creating a mostly false "history" that keeps the majority of the people disempowered, and enslaved, and that paints the totalitarian government in the best possible, most "Orwellian", "double-speak" light even though they're horrendous.

Thus, who knows what we can believe about Jefferson and "Jeffersonianis m", what the real truth is concerning him and his "ideals", and what is nothing but fraudulent propaganda seeking to discredit him and his history and/or "legacy". Like most human beings, he likely stood for some evil(s), but may have been seeking enlightened, righteous goals (in his case, laudably seeking to limit the size and power of the federal government and prevent it from becoming an all-powerful central government despotism and tyranny (as it has become today) like the U.S. founders escaped Europe to get away from, and to escape its oppression and repression, and its opposite of liberty and freedom.

(Continued below)
 
 
0 # John S. Browne 2016-07-07 03:10
#

Therefore, it is my belief that Jefferson's reinterpretatio n of the U.S. Constitution, though at least partly for an evil purpose (continuing slavery), and "state's rights" and sovereignty from federal government overreach and abuses, was an admirable cause. We let the U.S. federal government become much too big and powerful, to the detriment of all of us, and to the demise of the entire world; i.e., an increasingly totalitarian corporate-fasci st oligarchy, the antithesis of what it was ONLY meant to be. So, Jefferson had some of the right ideas, though partly for the wrong purpose.

(Continued below)
 
 
0 # John S. Browne 2016-07-07 03:10
#

On the other hand, Robert Parry and his ilk believe wholeheartedly in an all-powerful centralized federal government, damn-the-conseq uences. Evidently he and they see that government as a utopian "savior", refusing to face what a colossal monster it has become. In short, they have completely drank the "Kool-Aid", are completely brainwashed, and are willing false-propagand ists for the monstrous U.S. and global government oligarchy. How do we know what is true and is not true in his representation of "history", and how do we know that he knows what he's talking about? It all depends on if what he and his fraudulent-prop agandist kind say is what you want to hear or not, and/or if it fits with what you already falsely believe and are thus brainwashed by, making you falsely feel "justified" and "content" in your "manufactured-h istory" view of the world, keeping you thinking in the channels that the powers-that-be want you to think in, and only in, and thus kept enslaved and a willingly-blind member of the panopticon control grid "matrix" and fantasy world.

In other words, "frack" Parry and all of his history-rewitin g, false-propagand ist, brainwashing ilk who mix just enough truth in with just enough lies in order to keep you corralled, to corral you more and more, and to lead you by the nose over the edge of the cliff to your complete destruction.

#
 
 
+1 # JJS 2016-07-10 05:46
"Thankfully, much of humanity has evolved positively ..."-geohorse

Good post but I would qualify this statement with 'humanity's institutions have evolved'. The bulk of humanity as individuals is still being dragged kicking and screaming into a civilized, enlightened society.
 
 
+7 # RMDC 2016-07-05 07:54
"Jefferson’s fight to extend slavery into Missouri also influenced his last notable personal achievement, the founding of the University of Virginia. He saw the establishment of a first-rate educational institution in Charlottesville , Virginia, as an important antidote to elite Northern schools influencing the Southern aristocracy with ideas that could undermine what Jefferson dubbed “Missourism,” or the right of all states carved from the Louisiana Territories to practice slavery."


And this is still the culture of UVA today. The frat gang rape story published by Rolling Stone is a good example. The aristocrats came together with lawyers, the WaPo, and supporters and crushed the woman who was raped and Rolling Stone.
 
 
+7 # Trish42 2016-07-05 08:59
So whether TJ is admirable comes down to which TJ you are reading about: the Virginian, the American, or the Southern nationalist. This article has laid out very precisely why Hamilton should be the Democrat's role model, not TJ. However, it also make the point that the same person who does the best of things can also be the one who does the worst of things. When will America every grow up and realize that all their "heroes" have feet of clay? It's called being human!!
 
 
+2 # reiverpacific 2016-07-05 09:16
"All men are created equal".
-Or by the Lord Harry, I'll damn-well see that they toe the line right fast!
 
 
-12 # jazzman633 2016-07-05 09:25
The problems with the "general welfare" loophole are that it is open-ended and undefinable. Politicians can enact anything that anybody thinks is in the general welfare, just because it seems like a good idea and/or will benefit them and their cronies.

There is no requirement that unconstitutiona l actions be revisited to see if they really did improve the general welfare.

How exactly do farm subsidies improve the general welfare?

The war on drugs ($40 billion and 10,000 lives/year and no end in sight)?

The Department of Education? American education is among the worst in the industrialized world - how was the general welfare improved?

Social Security? A lousy investment which is going bankrupt.

The income tax? Costs billions of dollars and hours, compromises our privacy, and provides govt. with the money to do more feckless, unconstitutiona l things.

War on poverty? Thomas Sowell shows that black incomes and educational test scores were actually RISING before the govt. decided to "improve" their welfare by destroying vibrant Black neighborhoods and herding the people into housing projects.

And don't get me started on Obamacare or the endless foreign wars that breed anti-American hatred around the world and saddle us with an impossibly expensive empire.

General welfare, my ass. It's all about politicians and money.
 
 
0 # WaaDoo 2016-07-05 09:45
A socio-path today is far different than the "socio-path" of the days of the Rev. War. There is no perfect human being - this writer included !! Aha, that includes Robert Parry also.

For example, Parry writes of Jefferson that he was a "skilled propagandist and a world-class hypocrite". Perhaps. However, go back over the writings of Robert Parry on a search of the Internet. Let's determine if Mr. Parry wrote words that could be formulated in laws that establish the most prosperous and free-speech society ever in human history.

GOOD GRIEF !!
 
 
+4 # meanstreak 2016-07-05 11:04
It is time to realize that science and religion were converging. This period of the enlightenment asked questions of everything (maybe it should be called the period of rationalization ). For the first time we were responsible not by our values of religion;but by our logic. The terrible idea of enslaving others had to be grounded in science. The term eugenics comes from the man who gave us linear regression and other scientific tools.Therefore ,a new construct could rationalize ideas of genetic superiority.
Sally Hemmings was not just his slave, but she was his wifes half-sister.He vowed to his wife that he would never take another wife. He also stated that Sally was his family and that her freedom would be short-lived in a society that would recapture and enslave her and her children (his family) again. This is very complex. Is he interested in her sexually only? Is love and safety of a family member holding both parties together? He lived by his times and gave us his mind through his writings and the real scripture of America the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
 
 
+5 # johnborksales 2016-07-05 12:44
Since Jefferson is dead: what we are left to admire and aspire to are his words, just as we are those of Benjamin Franklins, George Washington,and Abraham Lincoln. It has taken us over 200 years to both live up to those words as a nation and a people Yet, we still have many miles to travel. But, the words of Jefferson and Lincoln are what uplift us. In Discovering and admitting their shortcomings however, agregious, we may be holding a mirror to our own selves. Buck
 
 
-13 # babaregi 2016-07-05 12:52
Quoting Missrayraythegreat:
I hate white men not....so kindly excuse the hell out of yourself. Privileges. Where, may I inquire? I am a black, college educated woman in the fukking American south. I Possess no privileges. Most people can NOT relate to me. Don't assume. It makes you look feeble.


I stand corrected, maybe you have a problem with men in general.

I find the things black men are saying to be fascinating. I'm concerned with what's going on in my own tribe but I can learn from the example of others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14g67bLNPKU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwBDE_jY7X0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR7EyZaxkFM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlSQAmSqSik
 
 
+7 # Missrayraythegreat 2016-07-05 14:03
I don't hate men at all. Again, your assumptions are woefully inadequate. Seeing as though the videos in your previous posts seemed to make other commenters hurl at their computer screens, I'm not entirely bothered that all but one of the links you posted actually (barely) works. I'm not certain what your ethnic background consists of, but my guess is you're not an individual of color. Because if you were, you more than likely would refrain from posting such elementary drivel. I'm sure you genuinely believe women (especially black women) possess advantages and privileges (according to your link) over everybody else. What planet again are we talking about? Because it can't be Earth. If being a woman (or black for that matter) has so many advantages, how come everybody isn't rushing breaking down walls trying to become such? I'll take poor assumptions for 800 Alex....
 
 
-13 # babaregi 2016-07-05 18:17
Miss rayray:

You're not a man so it's not surprising that you have little sympathy or understanding of what the average guy has to deal with. Women never needed to.

OK, you personally don't hate but you have an attitude that you have no advantages over men and that men are simply whining about nonsense.

If I were Black I might choose being a woman over being a brother in jail. The black women seem to be doing better, such as yourself (a college graduate).

You can point to white men running the world but they're a tiny minority (1%) at the top. Who populates the legions of the homeless at the bottom? Men.

Men are considered expendable. If the Titanic is sinking, men are expected to sacrifice themselves. The same goes with war and other hazardous activities.

I assume you are on the same planet but playing victim only really works for women. No one cares about saving men but at least we used to get a modicum of respect before feminism. And you certainly haven't got a clue about being a white man or boy in this toxic American culture these days.

Lots of men are refusing to get married because it's a bad deal for them. It used to be worth the effort but smart guys are taking a dim view of it and the women that expect them to play the role of suckers. 50% divorce rate with women instigating the divorce 70% of the time and taking the man's money and children by court order (no reason needed).

You can do the research yourself to verify. Try links now.
 
 
-8 # babaregi 2016-07-05 23:05
Here's what another brother has to say about women killing your dream:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT-0d-4i_f0
 
 
0 # PCPrincess 2016-07-07 08:55
Again, agreed. I've brought the subject up many times to people in conversations about how men get completely screwed in family court. It's gross actually. There a few enlightened women out there!
 
 
0 # babaregi 2016-07-07 18:40
Quoting PCPrincess:
Again, agreed. I've brought the subject up many times to people in conversations about how men get completely screwed in family court. It's gross actually. There a few enlightened women out there!


You may be among the few women that care about what is going on with men and what effect it has on everyone.
 
 
+3 # MDSolomon 2016-07-06 08:40
The international banks that own almost all key corporate and governmental assets on the planet have been waging a desperate propaganda campaign to build up their man, Hamilton.

Hamilton was a traitor. His First Bank of the U.S. sold the fledgling nation back to the British bankers whose mercenaries the colonists has just defeated on the battlefield. The private Bank of England wholly owned the 1st and 2nd Banks of the U.S.

Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson all opposed the banking cartel, which is why they are being denigrated.

As far as racism goes, yes, Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson were slaveholders, as were many northerners and southerners.

So, here we have one more prostituted historian trying to sell us on judging people on standards that we, as a nation, don't even meet today, all to distort history and justify the banking industry's removal of its opponents from their private currency.

http://coloradopublicbanking.blogspot.com/2014/08/restoring-democracy.html
 
 
+2 # anarchteacher 2016-07-06 13:22
Investigative journalist Robert Parry is an unabashed progressive. Normally his excellent pieces involve uncovering secret machinations of the deep state and the resulting corruption these endeavors engender.

However he took the occasion of the 4th to savagely attack the person of Thomas Jefferson as “America’s Founding Sociopath.”

If Jefferson was this criminally aberrant and hypocritical racist being, then his product, the Declaration of Independence, and its consequence, the founding of the American nation-state, was equally aberrant and hypocritically racist.

Parry, the progressive and enemy of the concept of a decentralized federal republic of independent sovereign states, attacks in his select revisionist history, the repeated efforts to restrain the egregious growth and power of the centralized Leviathan state, as destructive and racist attempts to thwart the will of the nationalists (especially Hamilton) who at Philadelphia in 1787 established a coup d’etat to forcibly impose their designs of consolidation and control upon the American people.

The faux history he outlines is one of the most profoundly anti-libertaria n screeds I have ever encountered.
 
 
-3 # PCPrincess 2016-07-07 09:02
I'm still wondering why it is wrong to be anti-libertaria n? Human beings show themselves time and time again to be incapable of making good, rationale, ethical, healthy choices and do so on enough occasions that to allow complete abandon would ensure a very unstable living situation and would make for very unsuitable communities.

You know, like, allowing human beings to brandish firearms after downing a six-pack. That always makes for fun times. I'm just saying.....

The problem isn't government, it is corrupt government and human apathy.
 
 
-1 # pernsey 2016-07-06 23:04
If your another race people go after you with a vengence, but keep your mouth and attitude away from white people...really ? White people kill someone its an isolated incident...any other race does, its terrorism. Yeah boo hoo for the white people...get grip Baba. The white race has had it so good for so long that any little injustice sends them off bawling poor me poor me. If any other race tries to point out injustice they are called names, beat by the police, and mocked. Im white, but my adopted son isnt, I see it all the time. Seeing what he goes through and other people of color, the white man has nothing to whine about. Poor poor slave raping Jefferson, such a victim.
 
 
+1 # rhgreen 2016-07-07 09:12
I usually like Robert Parry but this piece is inexcusably ahistorical. To say that everyone at all times and places knew that slavery was wrong is naive in a Wizard of Oz sort of way. The Greeks? The Romans? The African tribes who enslaved each other after wars? All the founding fathers with the exception of Tom Paine, and to some extent Ben Franklin, were in favor of keeping the rabble down, settling Indian lands (it was the British who had treaties with the tribes protecting their lands), and keeping women in their place (and keeping slaves). The founding fathers were mostly wealthy property owners who wanted to replace the British wealthy property owners. Most colonials were Loyalists or neutral until they saw which way the rebellion was going. Those who became American patriots were often in debt to British property owners and saw a successful revolution as a good way of escaping their debts. At Yorktown Washington and Cornwallis agreed that Loyalists would be protected. They weren't, and they had to flee north carrying what they could. Few of the "founding fathers" were admirable from a modern perspective, but to focus on Thomas Jefferson's blemishes is ahistorical silly special pleading. He did some good things too, more so than some of them. Only an excess of mindless patriotism (which Americans have aplenty) justifies any hero-worship of any of them.
 
 
0 # henry8 2016-07-07 23:31
What a magnificent essay!!!!! Thank you, Mr. Parry for writing it and thank you RSN for publishing it.
 

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