Thomas Jefferson: not an enthusiastic, brutal slaver

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71 Responses to “Thomas Jefferson: not an enthusiastic, brutal slaver”

  1. Andreas Schou says:

    Sure. Except for the part where he held human beings as chattels, raped one of his slaves, and held his own children as property until the day he died. But other than that small moral bump in the road, he was fine.

    • Aloisius says:

      I knew he had sex with at least one of his slaves, but can you back up that it was rape? That’s not a word one should throw around lightly. And he freed his children as they came of age.

      From Wikipedia:

      Since about 2000, historians widely believe that the widower Jefferson started a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings while in Paris. According to her son Madison Hemings, she became pregnant and agreed to return with Jefferson to the US after he promised to free her children. After their return to the US, her first child died, but she had six more children at Monticello with Jefferson. Four survived to adulthood, and he freed all of them, informally and formally, as they came of age at 21.

      • Andreas Schou says:

        Sex with a person you own is rape. I can’t even begin to formulate what ‘consent’ might mean between a slave and their master.

        • Aloisius says:

          What she couldn’t love him?

          Also, her children with Jefferson were legally white under Virginia law (she was 3/4 white and her children, 7/8s which was legally white until 1924).

          • DewiMorgan says:

            Everyone knows that people are not capable of feeling real emotions towards you, if they are your slaves, employees, customers, students, patients, offspring, people outside the half-your-age-plus-seven bracket, and so on. If people in inferior social positions do claim to love people in superior ones, it’s just a crush, Stockholm syndrome, or something manipulated from them by their superior.

            Of course, this is a safe (and very necessary!) default position, from both a legal and a
            moral standpoint: it means that manipulative abuses of power can be dealt with. The problem is that such abuses can be assumed to exist even when they were neither intended, nor perceived, by either party.

            It’s very damaging. It puts as worthless, fake, and unreal, the very real emotions felt by those painted as the “victims” in these scenarios. It paints people as abusers just for the accident of being in a different social level than the one they love.

            In this case, he’s a dead white male, and so are any relatives that might’ve defended him. Of *course* people are rewriting him evilly.

          • Daemonworks says:

             More importantly, there’s no viable way to know if any feelings or opinions a slave expresses to their owner are real. That whole “power over life and death” thing kinda makes it impossible to determine if consent has actually been granted.

            I’ll grant you it’s possible, but it’s a safer bet to assume that she may have been a lot less willing if she wasn’t required to do what he said by virtue of being little more than a pet in the eyes of the law, and society at large at the time. Arguably less, as folks would look down on you for whipping a dog.

            Basically statuatory rape.

          • Children who are sexually abused by adults may love their abusers, and the abusers may rationalize the abuse. That doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as statutory rape.

            When one person owns another, there is no basis for meaningful consent. Sorry. You can point out that, as far as we know, TJ didn’t /forcibly/ rape any of his slaves, though he legally could have, being a slaveholder and all.

            TJ had the power to set Hemmings’ children free, or sell them to distant plantations, or kill them (or her). That is not a basis for a consensual relationship.

            Trying to cast a slaveholder/slave relationship in terms of the modern ideal of romantic love is a category mistake.

          • foljs says:

            “””What she couldn’t love him?”””

            No, it doesn’t matter if she could love him.

            Would you care if a 12-year old said it “loves” some 40 year old pedophile?

            Slave and master is even worse.

        • disillusion says:

          Just like sex with a student is always rape too huh?  I guess people just can’t legitimately like someone that just so happens to have a position of power above them.

          Was it mentioned that while this woman was in Paris she legally could have left him and became free?

          • LogrusZed says:

             Yeah, it’s exactly the same. I mean forget that he could have freed her legally first and then courted her, that probably just slipped his mind. Or maybe they were just really into the D/s scene and were the best roleplayers ever in the history of kink.

            As to leaving him in Paris, forget for a moment the whole “not legally emancipating her” part I mentioned and apply that mental process to her ability to leave him in Paris to every living human being today in a domestic violence situation; you know, living humans who were never actual slaves, probably had access to shelters or other non-slave family members, the possibility of having some kind of job, etc. Many don’t leave. Must be that they love being beaten and treated like shit, huh? Couldn’t be some psychological shit going on, no way.

          • disillusion says:

            Personally I don’t understand the whole people staying with people in domestic abuse cases, but then I also find it hard to empathise with real, living people at times so that can also add to my misunderstanding of Stockholm Syndrome.  Maybe it’s just cause I’m a born cynic and brutally honest with people that ask stupid questions.

            To be fair though, most criminals that are good at their jobs (I know, weird way to put it) tend to be people that are well liked outside of the crimes they commit.  This is more obvious with scammer since part of their “job” is to sell themselves to their victim so their victim trusts them.

          • foljs says:

            @boingboing-04babe9ebbc0f48f79abd7cb6191508e:disqus “””Maybe it’s just cause I’m a born cynic and brutally honest with people that ask stupid questions.”””

            No, maybe that you have no empathy, and wasn’t abused as a child/adult.

          • Daemonworks says:

             Few teachers can legally have you, your family and friends whipped to death.

            And no, sex with students isn’t always rape, sex with minors is. It’s just that a large percentage of students happen to be minors.

          • disillusion says:

            Excuse me, I worded it partially incorrectly.  While sex with a minor is statutory rape (unless it was forced rape), sex with a student under I believe the age of 21 is considered an abuse of the position and can get you fired, and this applies to uni students. Dewt actually drew out what I was meaning very well above.

          • foljs says:

            “””  I guess people just can’t legitimately like someone that just so happens to have a position of power above them.”””

            Slave owner is not just a “position of power”.

            You make it sound like they were a teacher and a co-ed in love…

            “””Was it mentioned that while this woman was in Paris she legally could have left him and became free?”””

            Yes, because the guy have had no power over her and her relatives. A black person in Paris in the 18th century, yes, she would have gotten very far… NOT.

      • novium says:

        It’s going to be problematic no matter how you cut it, because if you’ve got the power to legally sell/beat/kill someone, they don’t really have the option of “no”. 

        And on a tangential note, iirc, she was his wife’s half-sister, which…..yeah. On top of being immoral, slavery was bizarre. The mental gymnastics and social constructs it created were as absurd as they were obscene.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I knew he had sex with at least one of his slaves, but can you back up that it was rape?

        No more than I can back up the idea that fucking a five year-old is rape.  How is it that you are unable to understand the most basic idea of ability to give consent?  That’s despicable.

        • jerwin says:

          Are you suggesting that Sally Hemmings was intellectually incapable of understanding what she was consenting to?

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            You cannot give consent if you are not free.  It’s not possible.  Nothing else matters in this discussion.  Nothing.

          • Ghrety Hyutop says:

            Which brings into question the definition of freedom.  It would seem that Sally Hemmings was psychologically capable of saying “yes, I’ll have sex with you” or “no, I won’t have sex with you”. This of course completely ignores the fact that TJ was legally allowed to rape his slaves, and that SH may have consented purely based on the idea that either she would “consent” or be raped.  Whatever side lf the issue you are on, it is an interesting discussion.  I just wish that Antinous would restrain from the hyperbolic dogmatism that he is so fond of.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            There’s no grey area in the subject of African slavery in the US. That’s not hyperbole; that’s fact. They were at the whim of their owners up to and including life or death. There’s no nuance there and no amount of trying to jam it in from the 21st century will create it.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            @google-1a4484c3aa0b8b5de9f37b19299acfe1:disqus  I don’t. The notion that she was on even remotely equal footing in such a situation is despicable and the motivation to defend it strikes me as something rooted in racism and entitlement.

            It is like your boss asking you to have a drink after work when they’re bored. You may have the right to say yes or no, but you know that they’re may be actual consequences for refusing.

        • Ghrety Hyutop says:

          Disregarding all aspects of law, logic would dictate that Sally Hemmings was able to give consent.

      • Mitchell Glaser says:

        So he only kept his children as slaves until they were 21? That’s your argument that he wasn’t a bad guy?

        • jerwin says:

          Between 1782 and 1806, the following law was in effect

          May 1782 – ACT XXI. An act to authorize the manumission of slaves.I. WHEREAS application hath been made to this present general assembly, that those persons who are disposed to emancipate their slaves may be empowered so to do, and the same hath been judged expedient under certain restrictions: Be it therefore enacted, That it shall hereafter be lawful for any person, by his or her last will and testament, or by any other instrument in writing, under his or her hand and seal, attested and proved in the county court by two witnesses, or acknowledged by the party in the court of the county where he or she resides, to emacipate and set free, his or her slaves, or any of them, who shall thereupon be entirely and fully discharged from the performance of any contract entered into during servitude, and enjoy as full freedom as if they had been particularly named and freed by this act.II. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That all slaves so set free, not being in the judgment of the court, of sound mind and body, or being above the age of forty-five years, or being males under the age of twenty-one, or females under the age of eighteen years, shall respectively be supported and maintained by the person so liberating them, or by his or her estate; and upon neglect or refusal so to do, the court of the county where such neglect or refusal may be, is hereby empowered and required, upon application to them made, to order the sheriff to distrain and sell so much of the person’s estate as shall be sufficient for that purpose. Provided also, That every person by written instrument in his life time, or if by last will and testament, the executors of every person freeing any slave, shall cause to be delivered to him or her, a copy of the instrument of emancipation, attested by the clerk of the court of the county, who shall be paid therefor, by the person emancipating, five shillings, to be collected in the manner of other clerk’s fees. Every person neglecting or refusing to deliver to any slave by him or her set free, such copy, shall forfeit and pay ten pounds, to be recovered with costs in any court of record, one half thereof to the person suing for the same, and the other to the person to whom such copy ought to have been delivered. It shall be lawful for any justice of the peace to commit to the gaol of his county, any emancipated slave travelling out of the county of his or her residence without a copy of the instrument of his or her emancipation, there to remain till such copy is produced and the gaoler’s fees paid.III. And be it further enacted, That in case any slave so liberated shall neglect in any year to pay all taxes and levies imposed or to be imposed by law, the court of the county shall order the sheriff to hire out him or her for so long time as will raise the said taxes and levies. Provided sufficient distress cannot be made upon his or her estate. Saving nevertheless to all and every person and persons, bodies politic or corporate, and their heirs and successors, other than the person or persons claiming under those so emancipating their slaves, all such right and title as they or any of them could or might claim if this act had never been made.

          An act to authorize the manumission of slaves So there were financial reasons to wait until the slave had turned 21. In 1806, Virginia required that the slaves be exiled, which would perhaps not be in the best interests of the child.

          •  Interesting that 45 is considered old enough that there was a good chance that that the freed slave would unable to support themselves.  Sounds like slave was a petty tough occupation.

          • jerwin says:

            One might imagine a situation in which a master, caring not a whit for the well being of an old slave, manumits him in order to escape the burdens of providing food and shelter. Still, the laws of manumission were often enacted under the presumption that lenient standards would encourage slave revolts and upset the institution of slavery. It was though convenient, for instance, that a black man could be presumed to be a slave, and not merely a potential slave deserving of a fair hearing.

      • foljs says:

        “””I knew he had sex with at least one of his slaves, but can you back up that it was rape?”””

        Seriously? Sex with a person you keep as slave is STATUTORY rape. Even if the person consents.

        Also, take note: “agreed to return with Jefferson to the US after he promised to free her children”. 

        Disgusting.

        • Aloisius says:

          Seriously? Sex with a person you keep as slave is STATUTORY rape. Even if the person consents.

          Then we must consider that the majority of marriages from the 18th to mid-19th century US culminated in rape as women were effectively owned by their fathers then husbands, were barred the right to own property, has limited legal rights and could be legally beat in most states. They held a legal status equivalent to children and criminals.

          I dismiss the idea that any union between two people of vastly different amounts of power is always rape. That seems too simplistic. We would have to consider every King having raped his Queen and every lord having raped their wives throughout history. To extend rape this far seems to devalue what rape is. Rape requires force and certainly, implied force that can exist, but it doesn’t mean that it does exist in every single case.

          Thomas Jefferson was certainly a hypocrite, his holding of slaves was disgusting and he very well may have taken advantage of the young girl. But calling him a rapist without evidence seems unfair.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            The position of women in that time was deplorable. It wasn’t even dimly comparable to slavery. Legal separation and divorce were available at the time. Men could not kill their wives with impunity.

    • boffer says:

      Did you read the review? She isn’t arguing that Jefferson was a saint or that slavery didn’t happen. The problem with the book is that it manipulates evidence to put forward a simplistic and misleading thesis. Jefferson was a complex man who did very bad things, being a slave owner chief among them. There is no need for any writer to overstate the case with poor analysis and selective editing of the facts. Or, to state it differently, writing false things about a bad man to make him look worse does not make a good book.

      • Jameson Ahern says:

        If Jefferson was a “bad man” then what does that make the rest of us?  I like how we can look back on people then and condemn them from some supposed moral high ground because we were born in an age where slavery is condemned.  Who’s to say in 200 years people won’t look down on us because of how we treat animals?  Or the atrocities we commit daily to the environment?  Give me a break.  We are the product of our environments.  Simple as that.  Those who feel strongly enough about animal rights and the environment are looked on as unbalanced and fringe groups.  Just as anyone who strongly opposed the convention of slavery was.  That’s a key word: convention.  As sociatal norms change, it is unfair for those in the newer norm to sit in judgement of those in the former norm.

        • LogrusZed says:

           An evolved human being should be capable of bearing the intellectual burden that they may have been the beneficiary of the misdeeds of our ancestors. If you’re a non-Native American citizen of the Western Hemisphere (European or even African ancestry to a lesser extent) you almost certainly benefit from a genocide perpetrated which was in many ways more effective than that perpetrated on Jews and Roma by the Nazis.

          Knowing and accepting that our preceding generations were wrong and not being some apologist for them might be uncomfortable but it allows you the further ability to consider that some things you believe to be right and good at the moment might actually not be so; this allows you the mental flexibility to change. Being wrong is part of the human condition, I’d say it’s so common as to be a natural state; being inflexible and unwilling to examine ourselves, however, seems antithetical to life. If we are willing to accept the wrongness of the past then the present follows and change for the better is more easily facilitated.

          If you don’t feel like a hypocrite at least once and a while you’re probably not practicing much self examination or introspection. Or you’re a complete shitheel.

        • Mitchell Glaser says:

          Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung – they were all products of their environment, all with many supporter in their day and today, all psychotic murdering bastards. It’s no excuse.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I like how we can look back on people then and condemn them from some supposed moral high ground because we were born in an age where slavery is condemned.

          There were others at the time who strongly condemned slavery and tried to keep it out of the nascent US, so your argument is a failure. He was a bad man who did something which more ethical people of the time strongly opposed.

        • Boris Bartlog says:

          The problem is that others alive even at that time were able to cleave to a higher standard of behavior. Washington and Franklin owned slaves – but both at least freed them on their deaths (well, in Washington’s case on his wife’s death). Jefferson didn’t. Adams, Franklin and Washington all worked to end slavery, even if the latter two showed some hypocrisy in their actions. Jefferson did nothing to end slavery.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          I think you’re downplaying the objection to slavery at the time.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abolition_of_slavery_timeline

        • AnthonyC says:

          I take the opposite view: they will look down on us, and they will be right. Conversely, they will raise up those among us who are ahead of our time. Where do my moral principles actually come from? Where would they lead, if I followed them to their natural conclusion? My life certainly doesn’t look the way it would if I lived so strictly, but with social and technological advances I can realistically anticipate, it would move in that direction.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          I don’t know which is more nauseating, that you are trying to divert the blame from (and essentially excuse) the affront to humanity that was/is slavery by bringing up animal rights, or that 14 users “like” that comment.

          *edit*
          Oh, but look, he’s long gone now. It would almost seem that his only purpose was to try to cast doubt on the ugliness of slavery and the suffering of people under the *ownership* of white heroes like Jefferson. And *poof* they’re gone…….

          • foljs says:

            That. And being a citizen of a country in which animals have it better than anywhere else, at that, with more money than the entire GDP of tens of African states being spent on feeding them makes it even more ironic.

        • foljs says:

           I like how we can look back on people then and condemn them from some supposed moral high ground because we were born in an age where slavery is condemned.  

          You forgot the part that even AT THAT TIME, and actually much earlier, both in America and in other countries, people found slavery abhorrent, and fought against it.

          Not to mention that he already had something called the “New Testament”, that, even lacking of anything else, would be all the justification one would need to condemn slavery.

          It’s not a mere “different age, different ethics” thing.

          • wysinwyg says:

             new testament was also cited to support slavery.  Religious people sometimes have the right idea; religious texts never do.

          • foljs says:

            “””new testament was also cited to support slavery”””

            Yes, but with much, and evident, hypocrisy.

            Like those bible-belt “Christians” touting Old Testament quotes, when the whole idea behind Christianism is that it brought a ***New*** Testament.

      • foljs says:

        Jefferson was a complex man who did very bad things, being a slave owner chief among them. 

        Yes, being a rich guy in power enables him to be a “complex man”.

        Whereas, if somebody poor (and/or black) did the same sort of things, he would be labelled a “monster” or a “criminal”…

    • Clara Noomah says:

      Annette Gordon-Reed, quoted above, actually wrote an entire book about the historical context and complex moral issues surrounding Thomas Jefferson and his treatment of his slaves, particularly Sally Hemings. It’s a subject that deserves a lot more than a sentence or a blog post and “The Hemingses of Monticello” is a fantastic treatment of it. Gordon-Reed does history really well and I found it to be an eye-opening read.

  2. BombBlastLightingWaltz says:

    It is written on the Rag, all men created equal. At the time, the whites did not consider non-white equals or men, not to mention women of any colour as equal.

  3. Abdul Alhazred says:

    Jefferson took Sally Hemmings with him to France. She could have stayed there, but she returned with him to Virginia.

    This doesn’t excuse slavery, but it does show that she loved him.

    • Andreas Schou says:

      In other words, she could have stranded herself in a country where she didn’t know the language and was not a citizen, far away from her family and everyone she loved, and the fact that she didn’t was indisputable proof that she loved the man who had enslaved their mutual children.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        In other words, she could have stranded herself in a country where she didn’t know the language and was not a citizen

        And had no money or means of support.

      • jerwin says:

        There was some evidence that she spent some of her meager income (Jefferson paid her shit wages, compared to his French servants) on language lessons. Perhaps they didn’t take.

  4. Sally Hemings was the real deal,her sister the pale imitation of life.

  5. arp says:

    With out a doubt the owner slave component to whatever sort of relationship they had is extremely negative. More than likely she did not feel she could with hold consent or leave him either in Paris or anywhere else. My question is wouldn’t the same be true of the vast majority of women at that time? It’s not very likely any woman would be able to leave her husband, or bring about a successful claim of marital rape. All women were more or less property of their husbands or fathers. I don’t think that necessarily means all women were incapable of having consenting, voluntary, and loving relationships with men who were by default in a position of power over them. Unless some first hand documents of her side show up, I don’t think we can know exactly what the relationship was between them or what her feelings were.

  6. Mongrove_Moone says:

    Oh, so he wasn’t an enthusiastic slaver? Well… nothing to see here, then. Carry on. 

    • puppybeard says:

       Yeah he probably just did it so he could get richer at less cost, and because he thought black folk are subhuman.

      It’s not as if he was some kind of monster.

  7. awjt says:

    If you’ve been to Monticello, at least a couple things will strike you. One: the living quarters were small. People were pretty hemmed in together in the main house, and the slave quarters even smaller. Second, it was far removed from town. It would be hours before any authorities could appear for any reason. The white people would have enjoyed near absolute immunity from any prying eyes. Third, the place was pretty delicate. Lots of manicured shrubs and fine wood and Jefferson’s contraptions everywhere. My guess is that the place was full of extreme rule-mongering, lots of don’t do this do do that, never do this or look so and so in the eye, etc. IOW, complete MISERY for anyone living there who wasn’t giving orders.

  8. tomrigid says:

    It’s exhausting to read all of Jefferson’s words on freedom and liberty and rights while remembering the generations of ruined lives that funded his privilege. Clearly his position in history is somewhat elevated by the abundance of total bastards in the antebellum south. We can do better now.

  9. yam the ham says:

    Excerpts from Thomas Jefferson’s “Notes on the State of Virginia”

    THOMAS JEFFERSON

    JEFFERSON COMPARES WHITES AND BLACKS

    “Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of color in the white race, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immovable veil of black that covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, and their own judgment in favor of the whites, declared by the preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Orangutan for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs and other domestic animals; why not in that of man? . . .

    “They secrete less by the kidneys and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odor. They seem to require less sleep. . .. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. In general their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labor. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to whites; in reason, much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless and anomalous. . . . The Indians will astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason and sentiment strong, and their imagination glowing and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration. . . .

    “In music, they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time. . . . I believe that disposition to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed to their situation, and not to any depravity of the moral sense. The man, in whose favor no laws of property exist, probably feels himself less bound to respect those made in favor of others. . . Notwithstanding these considerations which must weaken their respect for the laws of property, we find among them numerous instances of the most rigid integrity, and as many as among their better instructed masters, of benevolence, gratitude, and unshaken fidelity. The opinion that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination must be hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations . . . where our conclusion would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them.”
    –From Notes on Virginia, 1785

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      That only makes his keeping of slaves more heinous, since he freely admits that they’re not inferior.

  10. IanM_66 says:

    Actually, I’m not sure that Gordon-Reed does anything here to disprove that Jefferson was brutal, or tries to – mainly, she points out that incidences of whipping, etc., were already known among scholars. Some specific conclusions, like the use of iron collars, that Wiencek draws, she exposes as flimsy inferences, and she dismantles the notion that Jefferson had some sudden change of heart on slavery later in life. Rather, it seems he was consistently hypocritical throughout.

    It’s a strong critique, until the final, weirdly harsh and personal jab she makes at the end, where she seems to say that it’s actually Wiencek who’s the evil racist, just to further take him down. Sure, I have no idea whether Wiencek’s assumption that slaves would have stolen nicer clothing, etc. from another slave is correct, but I also have no idea that Gordon-Reed’s assumption that they wouldn’t is correct, because neither provide any evidence. But the suggestion that poor, uneducated people might covet the items of others doesn’t seem that insane, so it seems a little unfair for GR to twist Wiencek’s point around and present it as evidence that he’s the one who’s mistreating Monticello’s slaves – not to mention an example of exactly the sort of flimsy inference she’s just trashed. Yeesh, academia can be an ugly business.

  11. Petzl says:

    OK, so it should not be “Thomas Jefferson: not an enthusiastic, brutal slaver”

    It should just be “Thomas Jefferson: slaver.”

    Got it.

  12. ChickieD says:

    I thought I’d pop in on the discussion here of Sally Hemmings and whether she was raped or consenting. I heard an interview with the author of Master of the Mountain on Fresh Air and apparently there were lots of light-skinned young slave kids not born of Sally Hemming but of other slaves. 

    I know that people have romanticized the relationship with Sally Hemmings, but it seems that Jefferson was sharing the love. I wonder if this changes people’s views of their relationship.

    Here’s the link to the podcast with text:

    http://www.npr.org/2012/10/18/163025651/master-jefferson-defender-of-liberty-then-slavery

    Here is the quote about Jefferson’s fathering lots of children by slaves:

    “Many of those slaves were related to each other; some were related — by marriage and blood — to Jefferson himself. Jefferson’s wife had six half-siblings who were enslaved at Monticello. To add to the Gothic weirdness, Jefferson’s own grandson, Jeff Randolph, recalled a number of mixed-race slaves at Monticello who looked astonishingly like his grandfather, one man “so close, that at some distance or in the dusk the slave, dressed in the same way, might be mistaken for Mr. Jefferson.” According to this grandson, Sally Hemings was only one of the women who gave birth to these Jeffersonian doubles.”

  13. Jen Onymous says:

    The moral relativism somersaults that some people are doing to try to “prove” that Jefferson didn’t rape one of his slaves is astonishing.

    And no, I am not putting the word rape in air quotes.

  14. acerplatanoides says:

    Oh, an overheated revisonist biography which aims to destroy, through misrepresentation and falsehood, the life story of an American historical figure who held generally progressive ideals?

    And penned by a conservative? Shocking.

  15. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Utterly irrelevant. His sentiments about emancipation are meaningless given that he kept humans enslaved throughout his lifetime.

    You know who else said that he wanted to make things better for people?

  16. acerplatanoides says:

     Jesus? I mean, his own words were never twisted or used to cast doubt on his legacy, right?

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