annual Gallup poll released around "President's Day" each year
consistently shows a half-dozen 20th century presidents ranked
higher than Jefferson (who's always at bottom) and even
Washington. In the poll, Americans are asked to name the greatest
U.S. president and Jefferson typically comes in around 1 percent.
Even scarier is the fact that Clinton, Carter and FDR come in near
the top. These polls are designed to instruct the bovine followers
and sheep amongst us to believe as the majority reportedly
believes. Taken without any critical skepticism, the polls should
scare the heck out of any rational thinking person.
I believe this overlooking of Jefferson is due in
large part to the de-emphasis of the Founding period in American
History education which in turn is due in large part to the
scourge of "political correctness" which is opposed to truth when
truth contradicts a certain pre-determined mindset. Some see it as
a deliberate attempt to prevent Americans from gaining insight
into how much liberty we've lost since Jefferson's day. The
government we have today ain't even close to what our Founders
You'll recall that Kathy Cox, the Georgia
proposed in January 2004 to change the curriculum for Georgia
kids to cover early American history in elementary school (you
know, Washington never told and lie and he cut down cherry
comic book version.) In high school, they proposed to BEGIN
American History in 1876. That's no typo...1876...just as
"Reconstruction" was ending. With this approach, it's a sure bet
that three fourths of high school graduates, if asked, would say
they've never heard of Thomas Jefferson. "Ain't he the dude on
the nickel?" Most will not have seen a $2 bill.
There has been a concerted effort on the part
of anti-American heritage-haters to "tear down" and besmirch our
especially the Southern ones such as Jefferson, Madison,
Washington, Mason, etc.
Cleon Skousen, in his 1958 book "The
Naked Communist," listed
45 Communist Goals to destroy America from within. Number 30
on the list is "Discredit the American Founding Fathers.
Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the
"common man." Of course, number 30 goes hand-in-glove
with number 29 (discredit the U.S. Constitution) and number 31
(discourage the teaching of American History).
More recently with the rise of "political
correctness," there have been repeated uses of phrases like "dead
white men" to refer to the Founders and efforts to
discredit these men who may have owned slaves or who advocated
States rights. "Those guys held slaves, they didn't let women
vote and to prove them completely irrelevant, they didn't wear
their pants with a "sag" and they didn't like rap music..."
(Yes, I know that the phrase "rap music" is an oxymoron.)
Obviously, efforts to measure these men by today's social
"standards" is inappropriate and unfair.
The ongoing efforts to discredit the Founders
(specifically Jefferson) is well illustrated by the events
beginning in 1998. A "study" was published suggesting that DNA
evidence "proved" that Thomas Jefferson fathered a child by one of
his slaves named Sally Hemings. The story was trumpeted by every
large newspaper in the country and spawned volumes of commentaries
in non-daily publications. It was a "hot" national story for a few
weeks. The important part of the story is next.
The story was and is a gross distortion at
best, but it would be fair to call it a "bold-faced lie." The
evidence basically showed that the father of Hemings' child was
one of 25 Jefferson males living within twenty miles of
Monticello, most likely Jefferson's younger brother Randolph or
one of Randolph's sons. Thomas Jefferson was 64 years of age when
this alleged love-child was conceived.
A group of thirteen Jefferson scholars studied
the evidence and issued a 550-page report in 2001. Of those 13
scholars, 11 wrote that allegations of Thomas Jefferson's
paternity was "almost certainly false," one expressed "strong
skepticism" [that Thomas Jefferson was the father] and one
dissenter stated his belief that Thomas Jefferson was the father.
The BIG DIFFERENCE is that this 2001 report
refuting the 1998 "story" went almost completely unreported.
Samuel Francis pointed out the double standard in his
syndicted columns (links to two below) and the
Wall Street Journal published a story several months later in
A columnist for the Macon Telegraph published a
column slamming Jefferson as a hypocrite in 1998 but when I
contacted him to publish a retraction in 2001, he was too busy
investigating the scandals of Macon's mayor. Months later I
contacted the columnist a second time to remind him about the
Jefferson slander he needed to correct. Nope. He simply wasn't
interested in the publishing the truth.
The suggestion is not new, in fact, allegations
suggesting Jefferson fathered many children by his slaves were
published numerous times while Jefferson was still President.
Jefferson never responded to these personal attacks by his
political enemies. Wow...times have changed, huh? And I recall
reading the suggestion while a student in middle school (we called
it junior high in those days). It was in a Gore Vidal 'historical'
novel, Burr, on vice-president Aaron Burr (1801-1805) best
known for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel.
Even socialists and liberals cannot openly
bad-mouth the ideas expressed in the Declaration....so they just
snipe about the fact that Jefferson owned slaves and repeat this
lie about his having fathered children by slaves. When they read
the Kentucky Resolutions, which Jefferson wrote anonymously while
vice-president in the Adams administration, they realize that
Jefferson was a leading proponent of States rights within the
"federal system" that includes the central government as
subserviant agent to the States.
That alone is reason enough to make him a
target of socialists, who by definition, advocate a large
controlling central government. It was Jefferson and subsequent
disciples (predominantly Southerners) who staunchly defended the
Founders' original vision for a system that strictly limited the
concentration of government power in any one place.
That vision has been systematically dismantled
in stages ever since Lincoln crushed the Constitution and the
concept of State sovereignty in practice. But, as Jefferson wrote
to James Madison on the benefits of a Bill of Rights,
"Though written constitutions may be
violated in moments of passion or delusion, yet they furnish a
text to which those who are watchful may again rally and recall
the people. They fix, too, for the people the principles of
their political creed."
We're given hope by the expression of another
'Jefferson,' Jefferson Davis, who wrote:
"The principle for which we contend is
bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and
in another form."
As a prolific thinker and writer, Thomas
Jefferson stands out among the Founding Fathers. While doing
online research some years back, I stumbled onto some websites
with extensive quotes by Jefferson. As a result of reading those,
I renewed my admiration for Jefferson and resolved to find some
worthy books on him.
The following is an excerpt from the duskjacket
of The Essential Thomas Jefferson edited by John Gabriel
Hunt (1994, Random House). I highly recommend this book to get a
good flavor for Jefferson the man, in the context of his time.
(1743--1826), the greatest of the Founding Fathers, was a
philosopher, inventor, scientific theorist, architect, book
collector, lawyer, educator, farmer, legislator, statesman, and
politician. A master of elegant and precise language, he was an
indefatigable letter writer and the author of some of America's
most cherished documents. The quality of Jefferson's prose, and
the clarity of his reason made him Congress's choice to compose
the Declaration of Independence.