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Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3122
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. equality 

In the previous post I mentioned re-reading the [Deleted] thread begun by Shroomy, and how it prompted me to consider once again what I had written about racism in the USA. I also ran across an interview on Christiane Amanpour's news program about Thomas Jefferson. Walter Isaacson intervews Annette Gordon Reed, a Harvard history professor, and Jon Meacham, another historian, on the subject, "How Could a Slaveholder Write, 'All men are created equal'? "

I know one of Jefferson's and Sally Hemmings' descendants. When I met her she was the Superintendant of Public Schools in Santa Clara County in the Bay Area of California. I have never asked her about her views of her famous ancestors. I found Reed's and Meacham's expert views interesting.



RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2020 0:01:11
 
edguerin

Posts: 1558
Joined: Dec. 24 2007
From: Siegburg, Alemania

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Just read Jill Lepore's These Truths: A History of the United States, and found it quite enlightening (I now better understand how and why the US has changed so much in the last 40 years...)

_____________________________

Ed

El aficionado solitario
Alemania
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2020 10:43:28
 
mark indigo

 

Posts: 3308
Joined: Dec. 5 2007
 

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

an interview on Christiane Amanpour's news program about Thomas Jefferson. Walter Isaacson intervews Annette Gordon Reed, a Harvard history professor, and Jon Meacham, another historian, on the subject, "How Could a Slaveholder Write, 'All men are created equal'? "

Thanks for posting that video, which i found interesting. The issue of statues is relevant in the UK too.

_____________________________

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2020 21:03:15
 
dartemo1

Posts: 71
Joined: Apr. 21 2010
 

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

To your question in the other thread: youtube.com/watch?v=OunVHCbHFhI
Thanks
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2020 21:17:45
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3122
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to dartemo1

Many thanks, dartemo1!

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2020 21:41:30
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3122
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to mark indigo

quote:

ORIGINAL: mark indigo

quote:

an interview on Christiane Amanpour's news program about Thomas Jefferson. Walter Isaacson intervews Annette Gordon Reed, a Harvard history professor, and Jon Meacham, another historian, on the subject, "How Could a Slaveholder Write, 'All men are created equal'? "

Thanks for posting that video, which i found interesting. The issue of statues is relevant in the UK too.


Lucian K. Truscott IV, a white descendant of Jefferson, published an editorial in the New York Times on July 6 advocating removal of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC. It is one of the most prominent in a city of many memorials. In Truscott's opinion, Monticello, Jefferson's home outside Charlottesville, Virginia, is the appropriate memorial. It has been updated in recent years to more fully display the roles enslaved people played in supporting Jefferson's country gentleman lifestyle.

Interestingly enough, the black Harvard professor Annette Gordon-Reed joins Meacham in pointing out that Jefferson was far more than just a country gentleman. When we lived in Washington DC during my high school years, I knew nothing about Jefferson's slave ownership. I found his quotations on the walls of the Memorial to be inspiring. I wonder whether the Memorial is offensive to many black people? Maybe I'll ask Sally Hemmings' great-great-many times-great-grandaughter if I see her again in the next year or so.

Once I had my driver's license I was the tour guide for the many visitors we had in DC. One of my favorite stops was Mount Vernon. Even in the 1950s Mount Vernon clearly showed how Washington's life style was supported by more than 200 enslaved people. Washington also profited greatly from investments in land in the developing western parts of the country.

Half of the Mount Vernon people were part of the dowry of Washington's wife, Martha Custis. Washington provided in his will for the others to be freed when he died. His will provided that Marha's people should be freed upon her death. In fact she freed them only a few years after Washington's death. Washington set up training courses to teach trades to able bodied men, and a trust to provide pensions for the elderly. Washington wrote and spoke far less less of the evils of slavery than Jefferson did, but did more about it.

Another tour stop was the church in Old Town Alexandria, which Washington attended every Sunday when he was at Mount Vernon. He always left before communion. As far as I know he never publicly stated that he was not a Christian. Jefferson made a point of it.

Sally Hemmings was no doubt far lighter skinned than my friend, her descendant. She had three white grandparents, and was the half-sister of Jefferson's wife, who died at an early age, before he took up with Hemmings. She had at most 1/8th African ancestry.

Jefferson took Hemmings with him when he went to France as U.S. Ambassador. She was only 17. More than one French writer commented on her beauty and refinement. Since slavery was not legal in France both Hemmings and her brother James, Jefferson's chef were automatically freed upon their arrival.

Jefferson arranged for James Hemmings to be trained in French cuisine, no doubt incurring some expense. When Jefferson returned to America, James opted to remain in France as a free man.

Sally returned with Jefferson to Virginia, reportedly on the condition that their children should be freed at adulthood, a promise that Jefferson kept. Sally had no clear means of supporting herself in France, but perhaps she might have relied upon her brother, who found employment in Paris?

Many, if not most white Southern admirers of Jefferson stoutly denied his relationship with Hemmings until just a few years ago, when DNA evidence definitively settled the issue.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2020 22:44:20
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1728
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

This may be of interest:

quote:

Jefferson has been indicted for not freeing his own slaves. This overlooks the barriers Southern states had erected. Virginia law stated that if slaves were freed, anyone who found them could take possession. Jefferson was not willing to see his slaves fall into the hands of someone less benevolent. He would have to pay to transport them outside the boundaries of the South, and provide each with ample funds to get established, and even this would not ensure their survival given what they would face in eighteenth-century America.


James R. Flynn Where Have All the Liberals Gone? p. 17
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 14 2020 0:39:31
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3239
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a white descendant of Jefferson, published an editorial in the New York Times on July 6 advocating removal of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.


I think everyone should sit back and take a deep breath before fulminating about our Founding Fathers being less than perfect. To characterize Washington and Jefferson as being defined by holding slaves without balancing the equation with the very substantial contribution they made to creating a (less than perfect) nation that historically has been a light in a sometimes dark world is as bad as defining them as perfect without mentioning slavery.

We currently appear to be suffering a paroxysm of "presentism," i.e., the practice of judging the past by today's standards. Easily done, and of course it leads to a sense of moral superiority on the part of those judging the past using today's standards. To note this is not to absolve the Founding Fathers of the abomination of slavery, some of whom recognized it for what it was, but it is to exhibit a modicum of humility as we think where we might have stood on the issue had we lived in their era.

To conflate memorials of Jefferson, Washington, and other Founding Fathers with the memorials and statues of the Confederacy that are being removed is to fail to make a very important distinction. For all their faults, the Founders created a nation and a document (The Declaration of Independence) that, while falling short in execution, remains a beacon of light in principle. The memorials to the Confederacy, on the other hand, represent treason.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 14 2020 2:58:02
 
Auda

 

Posts: 209
Joined: Sep. 28 2019
 

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Here is link to a 38 part concise history of the US that touches on some of the issues brought up previously. The article contains the links to the other parts.

Cheers

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/american-history-for-truthdiggers-a-once-always-and-future-empire/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 14 2020 13:59:03
 
DerrenCline

 

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul. 14 2020
 

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Auda

Thank you @Auda I was actually looking for articles related of that. I will start reading it right now!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 14 2020 23:11:39
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12958
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Thomas Jefferson: slavery vs. eq... (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Many also forget that the Indians also owned black slaves, the Cherokee and others. But I hadn’t heard how they did this back in 2011:

https://www.npr.org/2011/09/19/140594124/u-s-government-opposes-cherokee-nations-decision

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 15 2020 4:43:46
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