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Old November 14th, 2012, 02:35 PM   #161

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I just finished the Thomas Fleming book about the Louisiana Purchase and was caught off guard by Jefferson's original reason to Charge Pichon in which he was going to support a French conquest of Santo Domingo for fear that the slave population may look at the free blacks of Santo Domingo. If Napoleon had not have dashed Jefferson's naive view of the French Revolution, then he may have supported it.

There is a lot to like about Jefferson, but his behavior on the issue of slavery is hypocrisy in its purest form. Many founders did not like slavery and freed them after they died, but Jefferson who seemed to champion emancipation in his early years not only was a slave owner but kept them in bondage after his death.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 03:17 PM   #162

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Quote:
Originally Posted by The History Junkie View Post
I just finished the Thomas Fleming book about the Louisiana Purchase and was caught off guard by Jefferson's original reason to Charge Pichon in which he was going to support a French conquest of Santo Domingo for fear that the slave population may look at the free blacks of Santo Domingo. If Napoleon had not have dashed Jefferson's naive view of the French Revolution, then he may have supported it.
Don't happily place all the blame for the American policy at Jefferson's feet.
The US did not recognize Haiti as an independent nation till 1862.
President Washington even sent funds to help support the white inhabitants of
the island.

Quote:
There is a lot to like about Jefferson, but his behavior on the issue of slavery is hypocrisy in its purest form. Many founders did not like slavery and freed them after they died, but Jefferson who seemed to champion emancipation in his early years not only was a slave owner but kept them in bondage after his death.
Many? Of the 56 men who singed the DOI, about six of the men freed
their slaves only after they died; Washington comes to mind.
Not all delegates owned slaves.
Yes, Jefferson tried to stop the importation of slaves and the spread of
slavery, even officially as president stopping the importation of slaves
into the US. Washington, Adams, Madison nor Monroe did as much.
Besides, Jefferson freed at least two males, Robert Hemings for one, I can't
think of the other and he allowed at least three slaves to runaway without
going after them. The Founding generation and Founding Fathers are a
complex topic, not just Jefferson.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 08:31 AM   #163

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This was an opinion piece in today's (12/01/12) NY Times. Jefferson's reputation takes another hit:

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The Monster of Monticello

Durham, N.C.

THOMAS JEFFERSON is in the news again, nearly 200 years after his death — alongside a high-profile biography by the journalist Jon Meacham comes a damning portrait of the third president by the independent scholar Henry Wiencek.

We are endlessly fascinated with Jefferson, in part because we seem unable to reconcile the rhetoric of liberty in his writing with the reality of his slave owning and his lifetime support for slavery. Time and again, we play down the latter in favor of the former, or write off the paradox as somehow indicative of his complex depths.

Neither Mr. Meacham, who mostly ignores Jefferson’s slave ownership, nor Mr. Wiencek, who sees him as a sort of fallen angel who comes to slavery only after discovering how profitable it could be, seem willing to confront the ugly truth: the third president was a creepy, brutal hypocrite.

Contrary to Mr. Wiencek’s depiction, Jefferson was always deeply committed to slavery, and even more deeply hostile to the welfare of blacks, slave or free. His proslavery views were shaped not only by money and status but also by his deeply racist views, which he tried to justify through pseudoscience.

There is, it is true, a compelling paradox about Jefferson: when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, announcing the “self-evident” truth that all men are “created equal,” he owned some 175 slaves. Too often, scholars and readers use those facts as a crutch, to write off Jefferson’s inconvenient views as products of the time and the complexities of the human condition.

But while many of his contemporaries, including George Washington, freed their slaves during and after the revolution — inspired, perhaps, by the words of the Declaration — Jefferson did not. Over the subsequent 50 years, a period of extraordinary public service, Jefferson remained the master of Monticello, and a buyer and seller of human beings.

Rather than encouraging his countrymen to liberate their slaves, he opposed both private manumission and public emancipation. Even at his death, Jefferson failed to fulfill the promise of his rhetoric: his will emancipated only five slaves, all relatives of his mistress Sally Hemings, and condemned nearly 200 others to the auction block. Even Hemings remained a slave, though her children by Jefferson went free.

Nor was Jefferson a particularly kind master. He sometimes punished slaves by selling them away from their families and friends, a retaliation that was incomprehensibly cruel even at the time. A proponent of humane criminal codes for whites, he advocated harsh, almost barbaric, punishments for slaves and free blacks. Known for expansive views of citizenship, he proposed legislation to make emancipated blacks “outlaws” in America, the land of their birth. Opposed to the idea of royal or noble blood, he proposed expelling from Virginia the children of white women and black men.

Jefferson also dodged opportunities to undermine slavery or promote racial equality. As a state legislator he blocked consideration of a law that might have eventually ended slavery in the state.

As president he acquired the Louisiana Territory but did nothing to stop the spread of slavery into that vast “empire of liberty.” Jefferson told his neighbor Edward Coles not to emancipate his own slaves, because free blacks were “pests in society” who were “as incapable as children of taking care of themselves.” And while he wrote a friend that he sold slaves only as punishment or to unite families, he sold at least 85 humans in a 10-year period to raise cash to buy wine, art and other luxury goods.

Destroying families didn’t bother Jefferson, because he believed blacks lacked basic human emotions. “Their griefs are transient,” he wrote, and their love lacked “a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation.”

Jefferson claimed he had “never seen an elementary trait of painting or sculpture” or poetry among blacks and argued that blacks’ ability to “reason” was “much inferior” to whites’, while “in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.” He conceded that blacks were brave, but this was because of “a want of fore-thought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present.”

A scientist, Jefferson nevertheless speculated that blackness might come “from the color of the blood” and concluded that blacks were “inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind.”

Jefferson did worry about the future of slavery, but not out of moral qualms. After reading about the slave revolts in Haiti, Jefferson wrote to a friend that “if something is not done and soon done, we shall be the murderers of our own children.” But he never said what that “something” should be.

In 1820 Jefferson was shocked by the heated arguments over slavery during the debate over the Missouri Compromise. He believed that by opposing the spread of slavery in the West, the children of the revolution were about to “perpetrate” an “act of suicide on themselves, and of treason against the hopes of the world.”

If there was “treason against the hopes of the world,” it was perpetrated by the founding generation, which failed to place the nation on the road to liberty for all. No one bore a greater responsibility for that failure than the master of Monticello.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/01/op...ef=global-home
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Old December 1st, 2012, 09:01 AM   #164

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I dropped by this morning to link the "Monster of Monticello" Op-Ed piece, but I see that Aulus Plautus has beaten me to it. It is one of the most broad-ranging pieces I've yet seen in the anti-Jefferson genre. Yet Dr. Finkelman has perhaps taken too large a broadside and been somewhat vague in this Op-ed. I should like to check out his book “

Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson: Paul Finkelman: 9780765604385: Amazon.com: Books
Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson: Paul Finkelman: 9780765604385: Amazon.com: Books

.”

I do like to read both sides of a story and for those with similar interests I do recommend another book by the same author:

Amazon.com: Defending Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford Series in History & Culture) (9780312133276): Paul Finkelman: Books
Amazon.com: Defending Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford Series in History & Culture) (9780312133276): Paul Finkelman: Books


For the time being, however, my interests have shifted to Social Justice because my daughter is writing some stuff for release next February.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 09:22 AM   #165
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That Op-Ed seems to entirely ignore Jefferson's role as the flint and tinder of the Free Soil movement. I'm reluctant to read the book on that account.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 09:23 AM   #166

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aulus Plautius View Post
This was an opinion piece in today's (12/01/12) NY Times. Jefferson's reputation takes another hit:



The Real Thomas Jefferson - NYTimes.com
Long on rhetoric. Short on evidence. A waste of electrons.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 09:51 AM   #167

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Originally Posted by Rongo View Post
Long on rhetoric. Short on evidence. A waste of electrons.
That was my first impression too. But then I considered that he has launched a fairly broad criticism of Jefferson, and in an Op-ed, not in a formal paper. That's why I thought I'd like to read the book mentioned in the credits following the article.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 09:55 AM   #168

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patito de Hule View Post
That was my first impression too. But then I considered that he has launched a fairly broad criticism of Jefferson, and in an Op-ed, not in a formal paper. That's why I thought I'd like to read the book mentioned in the credits following the article.
Well, let us know your impressions if you do. Good to see you back, by the way.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 03:23 PM   #169

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Finkelman needs to stick to what he knows best and obviously it
isn't biographical History. As far as "Master of Mountain", I've read
most of it, but didn't want to start defacing it in the book store, then
I'd have to buy it. Wiencek's work is something I'd expect from a high
school book report. It is dripping with agenda-hate and nothing more and
it proves once again, that Lindsay Lohan sensationalism-writing will get a book
noticed and he laughs all the way to the bank. The book brings absolutely nothing
new to the field of history and one needs a pale and broom to walk behind this
ridiculous trash. Even Annette Gordon-Reed, who has written her own Jefferson
book, blasted the book and author.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 03:32 PM   #170

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It's fair to judge Jefferson but all too often historians or pretenders do it without any context whatsoever.
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