The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson

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posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 09:43 AM
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The Little Known Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson

A new portrait of the founding father challenges the long-held perception of Thomas Jefferson as a benevolent slaveholder

This article is in the October 2012 edition of Smithsonian Magazine, and available free on their website for public viewing.
I was really surprised by a lot of the information in it. Jefferson was a slave-holder; this is not news......but, it is a myth that he was pro-emancipation for his whole life.


“One cannot question the genuineness of Jefferson’s liberal dreams,” writes historian David Brion Davis. “He was one of the first statesmen in any part of the world to advocate concrete measures for restricting and eradicating Negro slavery.”

But in the 1790s, Davis continues, “the most remarkable thing about Jefferson’s stand on slavery is his immense silence.” And later, Davis finds, Jefferson’s emancipation efforts “virtually ceased.”

Somewhere in a short span of years during the 1780s and into the early 1790s, a transformation came over Jefferson.

The very existence of slavery in the era of the American Revolution presents a paradox, and we have largely been content to leave it at that, since a paradox can offer a comforting state of moral suspended animation. Jefferson animates the paradox.

And by looking closely at Monticello, we can see the process by which he rationalized an abomination to the point where an absolute moral reversal was reached and he made slavery fit into America’s national enterprise.

We can be forgiven if we interrogate Jefferson posthumously about slavery. It is not judging him by today’s standards to do so. Many people of his own time, taking Jefferson at his word and seeing him as the embodiment of the country’s highest ideals, appealed to him. When he evaded and rationalized, his admirers were frustrated and mystified; it felt like praying to a stone. The Virginia abolitionist Moncure Conway, noting Jefferson’s enduring reputation as a would-be emancipator, remarked scornfully, “Never did a man achieve more fame for what he did not do.”

In fact, he backed off of it, and was the first to "monetize" the value of slaves mathematically.

The critical turning point in Jefferson’s thinking may well have come in 1792. As Jefferson was counting up the agricultural profits and losses of his plantation in a letter to President Washington that year, it occurred to him that there was a phenomenon he had perceived at Monticello but never actually measured.

He proceeded to calculate it in a barely legible, scribbled note in the middle of a page, enclosed in brackets. What Jefferson set out clearly for the first time was that he was making a 4 percent profit every year on the birth of black children. The enslaved 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.



“A child raised every 2. years is of more profit then the crop of the best laboring man. in this, as in all other cases, providence has made our duties and our interests coincide perfectly.... [W]ith respect therefore to our women & their children I must pray you to inculcate upon the overseers that it is not their labor, but their increase which is the first consideration with us.”

He and George Washington were at odds about it, too.


In the 1790s, as Jefferson was mortgaging his slaves to build Monticello, George Washington was trying to scrape together financing for an emancipation at Mount Vernon, which he finally ordered in his will. He proved that emancipation was not only possible, but practical, and he overturned all the Jeffersonian rationalizations. Jefferson insisted that a multiracial society with free black people was impossible, but Washington did not think so. Never did Washington suggest that blacks were inferior or that they should be exiled.

It is curious that we accept Jefferson as the moral standard of the founders’ era, not Washington. Perhaps it is because the Father of his Country left a somewhat troubling legacy: His emancipation of his slaves stands as not a tribute but a rebuke to his era, and to the prevaricators and profiteers of the future, and declares that if you claim to have principles, you must live by them.


Read more: www.smithsonianmag.com...

I know that many members of ATS are big fans of Jefferson; he has long been held up as the best dude ever. Now that there is evidence pointing to his duplicity --- he counted slaves as assets; and while he espoused hating violence, he hired very violent men to "oversee" his various projects, including very brutal floggings. from which he shrank, but did not order to cease.

In fact, when one of his "slave-drivers" got caught in the middle between profits and his own people (the slaves), and refused to whip them anymore, he was replaced...


Most likely he called in William Page, the white overseer who ran Jefferson’s farms across the river, a man notorious for his cruelty. Throughout Jefferson’s plantation records there runs a thread of indicators—some direct, some oblique, some euphemistic—that the Monticello machine operated on carefully calibrated brutality. Some slaves would never readily submit to bondage. Some, Jefferson wrote, “require a vigour of discipline to make them do reasonable work.” That plain statement of his policy has been largely ignored in preference to Jefferson’s well-known self-exoneration: “I love industry and abhor severity.” Jefferson made that reassuring remark to a neighbor, but he might as well have been talking to himself. He hated conflict, disliked having to punish people and found ways to distance himself from the violence his system required.

Thus he went on record with a denunciation of overseers as “the most abject, degraded and unprincipled race,” men of “pride, insolence and spirit of domination.” Though he despised these brutes, they were hardhanded men who got things done and had no misgivings. He hired them, issuing orders to impose a vigor of discipline.


Read more: www.smithsonianmag.com...
This is our greatest American hero and forefather?
Sounds like a typical corporation hell-bent on profit above all else to me. We haven't come all that far, folks. And in my mind, what he actually DID, as opposed to what he showed the public, is egregious in many ways.

Yes, he was a product of his time; but unfortunately (I held him as a hero, too, having been told of him from childhood), the myth of him does not stand up to study of the facts left behind. Something to consider.

What do you all think of this revelation? Is it propaganda preceding the election? Is it Smithsonian's own bias and appeal to authority? Or is it true, and Jefferson has been idolized for too long, when in reality, things were not so great at Monticello?

Anyone wish to discuss?
edit on 11-10-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)
edit on 11-10-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 09:51 AM
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Nothing new to see here, just a typical liberal article trying to smear the history of America... Don't worry they will find ways to kill the name of any white prominent figure in history and call them all racists, this is their whole agenda anyways.....



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 09:59 AM
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reply to post by jheated5
 


Are you saying that this story is a lie? What makes this racist smear? History?



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 09:59 AM
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reply to post by jheated5
 


just a typical liberal article trying to smear the history of America... Don't worry they will find ways to kill the name of any white prominent figure in history and call them all racists, this is their whole agenda anyways.....

Nothing new? It was news to me.
So, I take it you find Smithsonian to be biased. I've heard that before. Nevertheless, if the article holds up to scrutiny (based on extant records and original documents), it is a different view of Jefferson than has been held up in the past.

My fifth grade teacher, Val Reese Cheatham, back in 1965, (I remember his full name because I had a crush on him and our initials were the same) told us how wonderful Jefferson was. Ever since, I only read how wonderful Jefferson was.

The fact that he was duplicitous and hired brutes to manage his slaves and industries bothers me.



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:00 AM
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like most of history,it is written by the victors!
like other nations,america had to have its mythical heros.
when you look deeper into the real history of most 'heros', you come across a very
different picture of the actual person,and the 'real' life that was happening around them.
pick any well known character from history and do some real research on them.
study the day to day details,forget how history paints them,and you may be surprised
at what you find!
you may even find that your first president was black!
his name was john hanson!
look it up yourself. washington was # 8!!!!


Hanson established the Great Seal of the United States, which all Presidents have since been required to use on all official documents. President Hanson also established the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department. Lastly, he declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day, which is still true today. The Articles of Confederation only allowed a President to serve a one year term during any three year period, so Hanson actually accomplished quite a bit in such little time. Six other presidents were elected after him - Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788) - all prior to Washington taking office. So what happened? Why don't we ever hear about the first seven Presidents of the United States? It's quite simple - The Articles of Confederation didn't work well. The individual states had too much power and nothing could be agreed upon. A new doctrine needed to be written - something we know as the Constitution. And that leads us to the end of our story. George Washington was definitely not the first President of the United States. He was the first President of the United States under the Constitution we follow today. And the first seven Presidents are forgotten in history.



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:04 AM
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reply to post by jheated5
 


don't worry friend.
if ya dig deep enough into the root cellar of your own family tree,you'll find out how white you really are!
NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
the truth always hurts your kind eh.
check out my reply above.
deny ignorance will ya!!



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:07 AM
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reply to post by reficul
 


when you look deeper into the real history of most 'heros', you come across a very
different picture of the actual person,and the 'real' life that was happening around them.

And this goes not just for "American heroes". But ALL heroes, including those from antiquity. Which leads one to cynicism. Disillusionment is not comfortable, ever.

But, is it not imperative that the real history be presented? The Founding Fathers were not the backbone of America; the slaves and the working classes built this country, while those guys took credit for it.

Honestly, I have seen so much bias and spin and backpedaling and omission/slant in MSM that it has destroyed my confidence in ANYTHING that comes to light. Being disabused of the ignorance imposed upon us by TPTB (both living and in the past) is a critical issue in today's world.

It is tempting to dismiss anything that refutes our long-held beliefs; I from time to time do so myself. But that is not open-mindedness. More and more, I force myself to read opposing or conflicting points of view and research, always keeping in mind that I may be mistaken, whether by deliberately ignoring what I don't want to hear/read, or by having been pumped full of bull-crap all my life.

Disheartening, to say the least.



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:08 AM
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reply to post by reficul
 


reficul, can you source what you posted, please? Very interesting!



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:14 AM
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reply to post by reficul
 


That's not accurate information....John Hanson of the Continental Congress was not black. The name is confused with a later John Hanson.

en.wikipedia.org...(Liberia)


John Hanson (d. c. 1860) was an African American associated with the American Colonization Society, which sought to relocate black Americans in Liberia. In Liberia, he served as a senator from Grand Bassa County.

Senator Hanson has recently been confused with an earlier John Hanson, a white politician from Maryland who served as President of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. According to this urban myth, John Hanson of Maryland was actually black, and also the first President of the United States. Internet sites promoting the hoax use the photograph of Senator John Hanson of Liberia to support the claim, even though photography had not yet been invented when the earlier John Hanson was living.


This is about John Hanson of the Continental Congress.

en.wikipedia.org...


Because Hanson was the first president elected under the Articles of Confederation, one of his grandsons later promoted him as the first President of the United States.[11][12] This ultimately resulted in Hanson's statue being one of two representing Maryland in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, even though, according to historian Gregory Stiverson, Hanson was not one of Maryland's foremost leaders of the Revolutionary era.[3] The idea that Hanson was the forgotten first President of the United States was further promoted in a 1932 biography of Hanson by journalist Seymour Wemyss Smith.[13] Smith's book asserts that the American Revolution had two primary leaders: George Washington in the military sphere, and John Hanson in politics.[14] This idea is sometimes paired with the claim that Hanson was actually a black man, using a photograph of Senator John Hanson of Liberia to support the claim

edit on 11-10-2012 by isyeye because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:14 AM
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How could everything have been good? He kept slaves. The 'Oh, he treated them nice' has been the old standby for many famous slave owners, and it is BS.

He also used his female slaves as his own 'comfort girls'.



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:16 AM
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reply to post by FreebirdGirl
 


Are you saying that this story is a lie? What makes this racist smear? History?

I agree, I don't think it's smear, it's truth revealed.

Sadly, what happened to that "slave-driver" who was replaced (for not being brutal enough to keep profits up) happened to me about 4 years ago, when I was championing the housekeeping staff at a major hotel, and I disagreed with the managers and refused to "condone" what they were insisting was "corporate orders".

This entailed forcing a pregnant worker -- who was in danger of miscarrying, and provided a doctor's note to that effect -- to work just as fast as ever, despite the risk to her unborn child and herself. Instead they said "Fine, she can work fewer rooms, but she has to do them in the same time (20 minutes), and then go home."

So, they punished her by cutting her hours, rather than alleviating her workload temporarily. I was furious. I was also systematically "documented" as being "insubordinate" and "not backing up management." I left the job -- with blessings, warm wishes, and tears from the front-line houskeeping staff of 75, and not so much as a "goodbye" from my bosses (middle-management).


edit on 11-10-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:22 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


It should surprise me, but it doesn't. Jefferson was a politician after all, and politicians are notorious for saying one thing and then doing the exact opposite. Jefferson just happened to be a politician during a day and age when the media wasn't advanced enough to "out" him on it!



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:25 AM
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reply to post by littled16
 

Sigh.
I know, right? The truth will out, as they say. But -- will it "out" in time to stop the worst of consequences from happening?
Apparently not yet.



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:26 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


i hear ya friend! most people only want to hear what sounds good for them!
alexander the great was gay(probably bi,like most royalty)
hitler's family was clinically insane,and may have been of jewish blood/ties
napolian was a womanizing,spoiled ,angry little cook.
king henry VIII couldn't have children.
queen victoria was really a man,thats why she had no children.
bill clinton didn't inhale,or have sex 'with that woman'.
george bush was oil partners (etc) with the bin laden family.
charles darwin wrote his whole book on evelution while on a short stay in the galapagos islands!
mr darwin even quoted,while studying the natives of north america,that he thought these people were lost
in the pool of evelution,and would never be as 'superior' to europeans!
the list is endless about the lies our history books tell us.
next thing they will tell us is that jesus wasn't just a man, - but the son of GOD!!!!



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:26 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


Yes, the "benevolent slaveholder" is one of the most idiotic pieces of propaganda in history. The reverence for the "founding fathers" is always questionable, in my view.



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:31 AM
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reply to post by reficul
 

While I agree with you completely that the real "dirt" is usually glossed over by the authors, I have to disagree with this one:

charles darwin wrote his whole book on evelution while on a short stay in the galapagos islands!

Not true, based on what I recently read about him in a book called "The Moral Animal", by Robert Wright. He was sickly, and had lots of anxiety, and it took him years to get the book written....

but, that' a topic for another thread.
Cheers,
and thanks for participating all the same!



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:34 AM
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reply to post by trysts
 


Yes, the "benevolent slaveholder" is one of the most idiotic pieces of propaganda in history.

The article describes how carefully orchestrated Monticello was to present the illusion of perfection, but had an underground system of tunnels that kept the slaves hidden from view...

it's a long article (took me 3 sittings to get through it in the hard-copy issue I have)....but was quite enlightening.

So much of the Founding Fathers' (and other historical notables') myths and legends have been distorted for so long, it's just mind-blowing.



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:39 AM
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It's always hard for many to hear that our "founding fathers" were corruptible humans who very much had self interest as a motivation from the start of all that they "accomplished". They were no different than those running this country today. And old newspapers from that time show our country was dealing with many of the same issues we are dealing with today. Any real research always paints a different story of our history than what we're spoon fed in the classroom.

But it's hard to raise generation after generation of patriotic citizens with the truth. Lies sound so much better, and the government has been in the business of creating heroes for the people since the beginning.

BTW. Have you seen this thread? It will most certainly add to your disillusionment. S&F.
edit on 10/11/2012 by Klassified because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 11 2012 @ 10:50 AM
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reply to post by Klassified
 


Wow, I had not, but it certainly ties in nicely with the article in the OP, eh?

It is all an illusion. Or, is it?



posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 04:18 AM
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Patrick Henry could not stand Jefferson. He thought Jefferson was a coward as governor of Virginia, who ran away from fighting the British, rather than defending his home state. millercenter.org...
Gore Vidal's book "Burr", started addressing the real Jefferson some decades ago. Jefferson was very popular in the US in his first term as President because of the Louisiana Purchase, but became very unpopular in his second term. Jefferson, in his naivete, thought the British were the root of all evil, and that Napoleon was good. As the true nature of Napoleon dawned on Jefferson, Jefferson became terrified of a possible French invasion and ordered a trade embargo against both Britain and France, which threw the US economy into a depression. Jefferson was afraid that if he only embargoed trade with France, that would give Napoleon an excuse to conquer the US.
Washington towards the end of his life has split from Jefferson and would not talk to him. www.amnation.com...





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