No one questions TJ’s intelligence or writing ability. I concede those points. I don’t know much about his But his character was abhorrent. He was an amoral monster. The more I learn about him the more I see him as the first monster, shameless Republican that populates the vast majority of the modern GOP.
What makes Jefferson so morally repugnant is that he espoused, in writing and in quoted speech, noble, moral principles and ideals but practiced unarguable evil.
Which is pretty much the modern GOP’s modus operandi.
What TJ said:
“Slavery is an abomination and must be loudly proclaimed as such, but I own that I nor any other man has any immediate solution to the problem.”
(I dunno. You could free them and treat them like human beings and citizens of your new idealistic American democracy. Just spitballing here, you piece of shit.)
So TJ’s words are pretty clear. Well, the first part is clear. The 2nd part about an unknown solution is buried in a baked and transparent desire to protect his and his ilk’s economic model and standard of living, regardless of whether it employs an atrocity to fill its labor needs.
Oh and this incredible piece of shit only freed 5 of his slaves as part of his will. At the time of his death, he owned 130 slaves.
And please do not bring that he was a man of his time bullshit. He was well aware that he was conducting an immoral business. But instead of changing his material lifestyle and fighting and using his profound influence, he never freed the vast majority of his slaves and his early legislative attempts to legally abolish slavery in a prescribed progression of milestones, he abandoned these pursuits and eventually became just another rich southern asshole who railed against the north trying to force the south to abolition.
There aren’t many modern Republicans who will go on record supporting slavery (except Roy Moore). But I’ll take another of their intellectually dishonest positions as an example of a Jeffersonian paradox of word and deed:
The GOP’s official platform is “pro-life” (which actually means anti-choice if you have an IQ of over 60 and have any respect for basic women’s rights). But the GOP approves of capital punishment. In fact, Republican-controlled states have by far the highest rates of death penalty executions.
So pardon me, Republican Assholes, I have a little bit of a problem with your espousal of the sanctity of life.
I could name many other contradictory dynamics but I would be writing forever.
So let’s summarize on why the writer of some of the most egalitarian words in American history was amoral:
He knew slavery was immoral.
He wrote and said as much on multiple occasions.
He justified the existence of slavery because he could not, despite his rather famous intelligence, find a solution.
He freed less than 5% of his slaves at the time of his death (there were legal reasons for this but they are not sufficient. Basically, some historians note, that he could not free his slaves because they were collateral for debts he owed. But don’t let this vile human hide behind that transparent veil. He had those debts because he was an incompetent or overreaching (or both) businessman and because he wanted to maintain the economic standard of living he enjoyed.
Despite his public condemnation of slavery, he entered a relationship with Sally Jennings, one of his slaves, and had at least one child with her. If someone ever tells you that they’ve read somewhere that Sally Jennings wanted to be in that sort of relationship with her master and that her desire to enter said relationship constituted some sort of “choice” or “Free will” on her part, you really should stop speaking to that person because they are either amoral or stupid or both.
Oh and if you’re inclined to give TJ some credit for going on record condemning slavery, you might want to read Notes on the State of Virginia. In it, the great TJ comes to the conclusion that African Americans are inferior to whites and he reaches this conclusion by relying on white supremacist rationale at the time that was neither logical nor scientific nor sane.
I love history. I loved history as a kid and in high school and college and I read books about history and famous figures in history often.
I remember as a kid and high school student in Northern Virginia very little if any attention or time was paid to the paradox that men who were fighting and dying for freedom held on the anathema of freedom until their dying days. I am not saying to discount their accomplishments but tell their stories in full. Don’t hide their abominations because all that does is create mythological creature stories, not true human portraits.
And mythology belongs to the English majors, not the historians.
Fuck Thomas Jefferson and I hope he’s working an eternal cotton field in hell with Rasputin as his overseer.