Was Thomas Jefferson a Rapist?

Exclusive: As Thomas Jefferson’s apologists retreat in their denials about Sally Hemings, the new defensive line is to assert that Jefferson’s sex with his slave girl was “a relationship,” not another r-word, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

On President’s Day, The Washington Post published a front-page article about Thomas Jefferson’s mansion, Monticello, finally restoring Sally Hemings’s room, which was next door to Jefferson’s bedroom, a further grudging acknowledgement that Hemings was his concubine.

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.

But the Post could not bring itself to state the obvious. It described Jefferson imposing himself sexually on his female slave as a “relationship,” rather than a serial rape that apparently began when Hemings was around 14 years of age.

The Post reported that in 1941, the caretakers of Monticello transformed Hemings’s room into a restroom as “the floor tiles and bathroom stalls covered over the story of the enslaved woman, who was owned by Jefferson and had a long-term relationship with him.”

But – as grotesque as it may be to erase her room by installing toilets – it is equally grotesque to describe as a “relationship” an older powerful man having sex with a young female slave who had little choice but to submit to his predations and bear his children.

It may be hard for the American people to accept but the evidence increasingly indicates that the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States was a pedophile and a rapist.

That is the story that Jefferson’s many apologists have most desperately tried to obscure along with his wretched record on race, including the sickening racism in his Notes on the State of Virginia, that includes his pseudo-science of assessing physiological and mental traits of African-Americans to prove that all men were not created equal.

For generations, the apologists also have challenged slave Sally Hemings’s late-in-life remembrance to one of her sons, Madison Hemings, describing how Jefferson had imposed himself on her sexually in Paris after she arrived in 1787 as a teen-age slave girl attending one of his daughters.

According to Madison Hemings’s account, his mother “became Mr. Jefferson’s concubine [in Paris]. And when he was called back home she was enciente [pregnant] by him.” Jefferson was insistent that Sally Hemings return with him, but her awareness of the absence of slavery in France gave her the leverage to insist on a transactional trade-off; she would continue to provide sex to Jefferson in exchange for his promise of good treatment and the freedom of her children when they turned 21, Madison Hemings said.

Smearing Hemings

The traditional defense of Jefferson was to portray Sally Hemings as a promiscuous vixen who lied about her relationship with the Great Man to enhance her humble standing. After all, whose word would you believe, that of the estimable Jefferson who publicly decried race mixing or a lowly African-American slave girl?

Thomas Jefferson’s mansion at Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia.

For decades, the defenders stuck to that dismissive response despite the curious coincidence that Hemings tended to give birth nine months after one of Jefferson’s visits to Monticello and the discovery of male Jefferson DNA in Hemings’s descendants.

Still, the Jefferson apologists raised finicky demands for conclusive proof of the liaison, as if it were absurd to envision that a relatively young man then in his mid-40s, a widower since his wife died in 1782, would have initiated a sexual relationship with an African-American female, even an attractive light-skinned mulatto like Hemings (who was the illegitimate daughter of Jefferson’s father-in-law and thus Jefferson’s late wife’s half-sister).

Though it’s true that unequivocal evidence does not exist — Hemings did not save a semen-stained blue dress so it could later be subjected to DNA analysis — historians have increasingly come to accept the reality of Jefferson’s sexual involvement with his young slave girl who was only 14 when she moved into Jefferson’s residence in Paris.

So, with this ground shifting under Jefferson’s defensive lines, his apologists retreated to a new position, that the relationship was a true love affair and/or that Jefferson’s behavior fit with the moral behavior of the times as slave owners frequently raped their female slaves (and thus Jefferson’s behavior should not be judged adversely).

Hemings was transformed into a kind of modern-day independent woman making her own choices about matters of the heart. However, given her age and her status as Jefferson’s property the relationship could be more accurately described as serial rape.

But the reality may be even worse. Recent historical examinations of records at Jefferson’s Monticello plantation have provided support for contemporaneous accounts of Jefferson having sex with at least one other slave girl beside Hemings and possibly more.

Fathering of Slaves

Some scholars, such as historian Henry Wiencek in his 2012 book, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, give credence to old reports about Jefferson having a direct role in populating Monticello by fathering his own dark-skinned lookalikes.

An artist’s depiction of Sally Hemings.

“In ways that no one completely understands, Monticello became populated by a number of mixed-race people who looked astonishingly like Thomas Jefferson,” wrote Wiencek. “We know this not from what Jefferson’s detractors have claimed but from what his grandson Jeff Randolph openly admitted. According to him, not only Sally Hemings but another Hemings woman as well ‘had children which resembled Mr. Jefferson so closely that it was plain that they had his blood in their veins.’

“Resemblance meant kinship; there was no other explanation. Since Mr. Jefferson’s blood was Jeff’s blood, Jeff knew that he was somehow kin to these people of a parallel world. Jeff said the resemblance of one Hemings to Thomas Jefferson was ‘so close, that at some distance or in the dusk the slave, dressed in the same way, might be mistaken for Mr. Jefferson.’”

During a dinner at Monticello, Jeff Randolph recounted a scene in which a Thomas Jefferson lookalike was a servant tending to the table where Thomas Jefferson was seated. Randolph recalled the reaction of one guest: “In one instance, a gentleman dining with Mr. Jefferson, looked so startled as he raised his eyes from the latter to the servant behind him, that his discovery of the resemblance was perfectly obvious to all.”

In the 1850s, Jeff Randolph told a visiting author that his grandfather did not hide the slaves who bore these close resemblances, since Sally Hemings “was a house servant and her children were brought up house servants so that the likeness between master and slave was blazoned to all the multitudes who visited this political Mecca” and indeed a number of visitors did make note of this troubling reality.

Even Jefferson admirer Jon Meacham accepted the truth of the Hemings liaison in Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Meacham cited a quote from Elijah Fletcher, a visitor from Vermont: “The story of Black Sal is no farce — That he cohabits with her and has a number of children by her is a sacred truth and the worst of it is, he keeps the same children slaves an unnatural crime which is very common in these parts This conduct may receive a little palliation when we consider that such proceedings are so common that they cease here to be disgraceful.”

Meacham observed that Jefferson “was apparently able to consign his children with Sally Hemings to a separate sphere of life in his mind even as they grew up in his midst.

“It was, to say the least, an odd way to live, but Jefferson was a creature of his culture. ‘The enjoyment of a negro or mulatto woman is spoken of as quite a common thing: no reluctance, delicacy or shame is made about the matter,’ Josiah Quincy Jr. of Massachusetts wrote after a visit to the Carolinas. This was daily reality at Monticello.”

Family Doubts

This “daily reality” was also a troubling concern among Jefferson’s white family though the Great Man would never confirm or deny his parentage of a number of Monticello’s slaves.

In the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” actor Daveed Diggs (left) who played Thomas Jefferson (as something of a hypocrite) and the musical’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who played Alexander Hamilton (who was Jefferson’s adversary during the first years of the Republic).

“Frigid indifference forms a useful shield for a public character against his political enemies, but Jefferson deployed it against his own daughter Martha, who was deeply upset by the sexual allegations against her father and wanted a straight answer Yes or no? an answer he would not deign to give,” wrote Wiencek.

Before his death, Jefferson did free several of Sally Hemings’s children or let them run away presumably fulfilling the commitment made in Paris before Hemings agreed to return to Monticello to remain his slave concubine.

“Jefferson went to his grave without giving his family any denial of the Hemings charges,” Wiencek wrote.

The historical record increasingly makes Jefferson out to be a serial rapist, exploiting at least one and possibly more girls who were trapped on his property, who indeed were his property, and thus had little choice but to tolerate his sexual advances.

Whipping the Children

The evidence of Jefferson’s sexual predations must also be viewed in the context of his overall treatment of his slaves at Monticello. Though Jefferson’s apologists pretend that he was a kind master distressed over the inequities of a slave system that he could somehow neither correct nor escape, the latest evidence much of it concealed for generations to protect Jefferson’s image reveal him to be a cruel slave-owner who carefully calculated the net worth that his human chattel provided him and having boys as young as 10 whipped.

Some of Jefferson’s mistreatment of his slaves derived from another of his hypocrisies, his views about simplicity and solvency. As historian John Chester Miller wrote in his 1977 book, The Wolf by the Ears, “To Jefferson, the abandon with which Americans rushed into debt and squandered borrowed money upon British ‘gew-gaws’ and ‘trumpery’ vitiated the blessings of peace.

“From Paris an unlikely podium from which to sermonize Jefferson preached frugality, temperance, and the simple life of the American farmer. Buy nothing whatever on credit, he exhorted his countrymen, and buy only what was essential. ‘The maxim of buying nothing without money in our pocket to pay for it,’ he averred, ‘would make of our country (Virginia) one of the happiest upon earth.’

“As Jefferson saw it, the most pernicious aspect of the postwar preoccupation with pleasure, luxury, and the ostentatious display of wealth was the irremediable damage it did to ‘republican virtue.’”

But Jefferson himself amassed huge debts and lived the life of a bon vivant, spending way beyond his means. In Paris, he bought fancy clothes, collected fine wines, and acquired expensive books, furniture and artwork. It was, however, his slaves back at Monticello who paid the price for his excesses.

“Living in a style befitting a French nobleman, his small salary often in arrears, and burdened by debts to British merchants which he saw no way of paying, Jefferson was driven to financial shifts, some of which were made at the expense of his slaves. In 1787, for example, he decided to hire out some of his slaves a practice he had hitherto avoided because of the hardship it wreaked upon the slaves themselves,” Miller wrote.

Exploiting His Slaves

Upon returning to the United States, Jefferson reinvented himself as a more modestly attired republican, but his tastes for the grandiose did not abate. He ordered elaborate renovations to Monticello, which deepened his debt and compelled his slaves to undertake strenuous labor to implement Jefferson’s ambitious architectural designs.

Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States.(in a 1788 portrait by John Trumbull, credit: Thomas Jefferson Foundation)

Needing to squeeze more value from his slaves, Jefferson was an aggressive master, not the gentle patrician that his apologists have long depicted.

According to historian Wiencek, Jefferson “directed his manager, Nicholas Lewis, to extract ‘extraordinary exertions’ of labor from the slaves to stay current with his debt payments. Some slaves had endured years of harsh treatment at the hands of strangers, for to raise cash, Jefferson had also instructed Lewis to hire out slaves. He demanded extraordinary exertions from the elderly: ‘The negroes too old to be hired, could they not make a good profit by cultivating cotton?’”

Jefferson was callous as well toward his young slaves. Reviewing long-neglected records at Monticello, Wiencek noted that one plantation report to Jefferson recounted that the nail factory was doing well because “the small ones” ages 10, 11 and 12 were being whipped by overseer, Gabriel Lilly, “for truancy.”

His plantation records also show that he viewed fertile female slaves as exceptionally valuable because their offspring would increase his assets and thus enable him to incur more debt. He ordered his plantation manager to take special care of these “breeding” women.

“A child raised every 2. years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man,” Jefferson wrote. “[I]n this, as in all other cases, providence has made our duties and our interests coincide perfectly.”

According to Wiencek, “The enslaved people 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.”

To justify this profiting off slavery, Jefferson claimed that he was merely acting in accordance with “Providence,” which in Jefferson’s peculiar view of religion always happened to endorse whatever action Jefferson wanted to take.

Part of that “Providence” presumably supplied him with comely slave girls such as Sally Hemings and allowed Jefferson to do his part in “breeding” his slave stock and assuring more compound profits from his investments.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).


78 comments for “Was Thomas Jefferson a Rapist?

  1. Gore
    February 26, 2017 at 03:45

    The perfect example of the modern Democrats is seen in the switch from honoring Thomas Jefferson as the first leader of the party, to now backing his arch-rival, the first friend of the NY bankers, Alexander Hamilton.

    Democrats are no longer the party of working people and small businesses and farmers, but are now the party of the big bankes and their drive to control the country and the world. The Democrats are now the party of Alexander Hamilton. Alexander would love Goldman Sachs ….. just like todays Democrats.

    Maybe we should put a picture of Aaron Burr onto something.

  2. Lance Jobson
    February 25, 2017 at 10:30

    To make amends for damages rendered and to apply some monetary value due to the hundreds of Jefferson owned slaves and to their descendants either directly exploited, or by his renting out of human laborers; doesn’t there need to be reparatory justice and an apology for the crimes committed? Let’s say, for example, one of our country’s great accounting houses, for example, Standard and Poors, be brought to bear in arriving at the monetary value accruing to Jefferson and extracted by him for value of slaves labor recieved but rendered without compensation, from producing cotton, to household servants, to construction of Monticello and whereby Jefferson enriched himself at the great expense of and human suffering from the labor of others. His child rape of victims for the prouction of offspring demands another level of reparatory justice and a separate accounting. Is not an accounting due for this trafficking in slavery and denial of human rights for the purpose of producing prodigious wealth for one man at the expense of his many Afro-American chattels shorn of all human rights. And doubly damaging to the many poor Blacks still to this day suffering the pangs of slavery’s stolen fortune that continues to keep today’s slave ancestors living in poverty—to those survivors, I ask, where is the reparatory justice due them and where is the apology for crimes committed?

  3. Dave S
    February 22, 2017 at 17:46

    Even if one believes the whole Hemming’s story, Robert Parry offers no evidence that suggests it was or, would have been considered rape in Jefferson’s time for a man to have sex with a 14 year old girl even it it were consensual. Instead, he uses today’s social norms and state laws and applies them to a period more than 200 years ago. Perhaps, he should have done some research before he started to make such accusations. In fact, many 14 year old girls were taken as brides in those days.

    So what is Parry’s reason for attempting to tarnish Jefferson’s reputation? Perhaps, he’s one of those purveyors of the “white privilege” dogma. Maybe, it’s because he’s simply a writer looking for something to sensationalize his otherwise boring article. Of course, we’ll never know the true reason for his shameful attempt to smear Thomas Jefferson. All I can say is shame on Robert Parry.

    • Sangy
      February 23, 2017 at 02:21

      The article does raise a contemporary question as Monticello is being refurbished to include Sally Heming’s story in the museum, with insight into Master and slave’s “relationship”.
      It is a bit confusing to hear a question Mr Parry raised about whether that “relationship” was really not just rape characterized as implicitly hypothesizing a “dogma of white privilege”. After all, Mr. Parry isn’t fabricating the fact of slavery. The Monticello curators themselves acknowledge Thomas Jefferson owned people, and that one of those people was Sally Hemings, whose room is thought to have stood next to his, etc.. These empiric facts are sufficient grounds for Mr Parry’s article. One need not read in some imagined commentary on white male privilege unless one seeks a straw man at which to vent one’s indignation.

      Furthermore, if this article is irrelevant to their present, because it is about events 2 centuries old, why are some taking offense to it? Methinks the lady (or is it the “privileged” white male ;) ?) doth protest too much.

      Still, having thought about this, I’m not sure the most interesting question raised by the arc of this particular vein of history is the question of how to characterize the master-slave interaction. One question that interests me more is how a country with a strong Abolitionist movement, that committed its sons to fight to the death against the “evil institution of slavery” ended up erecting Jim Crow and segregation on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line within a generation of the Civil War. If anyone can point me to scholarship on this topic, and primary source documents on the Reconstruction, I would be most obliged.


  4. Richard Dixon
    February 22, 2017 at 13:45

    It is unfortunate that the place regarded by America as a shrine to Thomas Jefferson is controlled by those who have accepted the “Sally story.” There are virtually no records of Sally Hemings. We know nothing of her personality, what her days were like at Monticello, or even a single quote of anything she said. Those who choose to believe that she had a relationship with Thomas Jefferson cannot cite a single instance of any interaction between the two over the thirty-five years she lived at Monticello and supposedly bore his six children. There is no support for the so-called liaison in Paris, this story first unveiled by one of her sons more than fifty years after Jefferson’s death, and unsupported by any other person or document. Yet, fueled by the imagination of various writers, this relationship is presented as historical truth. Even the DNA, which only identified the Jefferson male line, and even then only one out of the six children, is constantly touted as “proof” of Jefferson’s paternity of all six children. The latest maneuver by Monticello is the location of the “Sally room,” which tourists will believe has some actual historical basis. At least four books have examined the available evidence and conclude that this paternity has not been proved. The most authoritative is the Scholars Commission Report which had the participation of thirteen prominent historians. No book has systematically reviewed the reliable historical evidence and concluded that Jefferson was the father of all six children.

    • Dave S
      February 22, 2017 at 17:03

      Richard Dixon. Nothing anyone says will stop those believing the Hemming’s story. It seems some just look for “the dirt” to tarnish the image of a founding father or, place a blemish on American history. All countries of the world have events in their history that wouldn’t occur today. Still others continue their brutality and shameful history. I believe it’s far better to look ahead and engage in constructive pursuits rather than looking in the rear view mirror for opportunities to tarnish the past. However, it seems some in their continual pursuit to promote their “white privilege” agenda can’t stop looking for those little tidbits in history to help justify their position. I for one think they are poor souls because they can’t seem to find the any good in our history. However, that’s just my opinion.

  5. Dave S
    February 22, 2017 at 12:01

    Perhaps it makes more sense to live in the present and strive to create an environment of peace, harmony and inclusiveness. Focusing on the environment which existed 200 years ago seems to be a poor use of time and energy. If you’re willing to go back 200 years, why not 1,000 and condemn those who lived then because they didn’t measure up to the standards and norms of modern times.

  6. xyz
    February 22, 2017 at 09:15

    How many shekels were u paid to “write” that? Oh, yes jumping the anti-white bandwagon is so trendy. No word on Marxist Loser King being a Zio-communist tool and woman abuser/beater?

  7. F. G. Sanford
    February 22, 2017 at 05:58

    Mr. Parry – I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel to this article: “Was Strom Thurmond a Rapist?” It should be really juicy!

    • Evangelista
      February 23, 2017 at 20:22

      I’m waiting for Bob’s Inevitably Upcoming “Jerry Lee Lewis – Billy Graham’s Perverted Pedophile Serial Rapist Cousin!”

  8. Zachary Smith
    February 22, 2017 at 02:17

    A child raised every 2. years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man

    This was extracted from a larger section:

    “but the loss of 5. little ones in a year induces me to fear that the overseers do not permit the women to devote as much time as is necessary to the care of their children: that they view their labor as the 1st object and the raising their child but as secondary. I consider the labor of a breeding woman as no object, and that a child raised every 2. years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man. in this, as in all other cases, providence has made our interests & our duties coincide perfectly. women too are destroyed by exposure to wet at certain periodical indispositions to which nature has subjected them. with 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.”

    That “breeding woman” business sums up the remarkable liberal Jefferson quite well. The female variety of the two-legged livestock was best utilized if kept pregnant. So long as they kept popping out little bundles of pure profit, all was well. You’ve just got to watch those hired hands with the whips – the ones who don’t understand simple economics – to make sure they concentrate their efforts on the male slaves.

  9. Hank
    February 21, 2017 at 21:47

    True, Jefferson was an enigma. He was also Human with human traits, emotions, and faults. His wife’s half-sister was supposed to have resembled her. He did free “his kids” at age 21; to my knowledge the only slaves he ever freed. His writings show he did favor universal
    emancipation but obviously he was too weak, too vain, too proud to give up his wealth and status to do so.

  10. Evangelista
    February 21, 2017 at 21:39

    And Journalist Robert Parry, apparently outraged at the success Vice President Mike Pence and a variety of hack journalism competitors are enjoying peddling “@#FAKE NEWS#@” as the Trump Presidency, having jettisoned its Mike Flynn ballast and been given ‘wings to fly’ by Bibi and Israel, begins to get air, flails wildly, righteously, over-righteously and over-the-top, blowing flotsam and jetsam generously provided him by Revisionist Historians (the Emeriti of Fakery) to get in some innings of his own.

    Writing crap from crap sources, iced and meringued with a froth of bombast seemingly borrowed from Elmer Gantry, Parry provides readers and Believers a boatload of blather historically equivalent to the “Authorized Versions” of the MH-17 Shoot-Down, the Russian Invasion of Crimea, the Noble Nazi Defense of Ukraine Against Russian Democracy, the Unprovoked Arab Antagonism To America and on and on.

    Where will this war of the fakers take us? How far from basic truth and fundamental fact may we be forced to march into the realms of “Serves-My-Hate” fantasy?

    Will the sides escalate endlessly? Will Truth be Buried so deep in Bloviate Bullshit its shoots will never again be able to push up through? Will the tender leaves of Facts be burned to crisps under inundations of too hot manure before they can even unfurl?

    Will these competitors’ competitive coruscations carry all intellect to sterility, all thought concreted by their crust of crap ? Crap-news, crap-history, crap-scholarship, crap-science, even crap-exegesis, crap-explanations, crap-clarifications? Is there nothing we can do?

    For the contemporary crap-onslaught, that of Mike Pence and the bleating-believers who provide “Main-Stream” News, the Flux that flows from our “Government Sources”, there is probably little.

    For the historical muck-merchants, Robert Parry and the Imaginative-Research purveying Fake-Historians he depends on for ingredients that brewed together produced the double-bubbled “History” Parry’s “Was Thomas Jefferson a Rapist?” evidences he troubled and toiled to boil, to write, to serve up as a chamber-pot stew, there is an antidote:

    Look for the antidote in Fawn M. Brodie’s actually researched, rationally reasoned, reasonably written and really documented “Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History”.

    There, for an example, an unbiased, rational and reasonably intelligent reader may find it documented and reasonably proofed that the Jefferson-Hemings liaison began in Paris, when Ms. Hemings was sent to accompany Jefferson’s daughter, and that Ms. Hemings, as also her brother James, who was also in Paris with Jefferson and Sally (learning the trade of chef), was aware that by law the moment she (and James) set foot on French soil they were emancipated; a fact that James used to negotiate his formal-document emancipation in America, agreeing to return with Jefferson and be his chef at Monticello long enough to train a chef to replace him, which he did, and which he was, at the end of seven years, the normal period for apprenticeship (the new cook’s).

    Brodie documents a lacuna in Jefferson’s records during a period when he was informing his family of his relationship to Ms Hemings, when he would have been clarifying and clearing his intentions with those with legitimate interests in his in family affairs, pages once there having been removed, so exactly how matters were arranged in the family is not known. But available evidences indicate that Sally Hemings was emancipated, and knew she was emancipated and not a slave when she engaged in her liaison with Jefferson and negotiated the terms of their relationship, and that she returned to America with Jefferson voluntarily, as mistress in (and probably of) his household, where she was not a slave, except “apparently” in the prejudiced perceptions of prejudiced Americans (and subsequently in the also prejudiced views of @#FAKE_HISTORIANS#@. with outrage in their hearts, righteous indignation in their breasts and shit for brains.

    • Erik G
      February 22, 2017 at 18:38

      Evangelista, I often agree with you, but I think that Mr. Parry does not deserve scorn whether right or wrong, any more than Jefferson does. He certainly tries and usually finds a higher truth, a very sensible alternative view, which is a great service to all of us, and I admire his successes. He has much courage, and if he is wrong, I sympathize, and have confidence that he reviews the facts and arguments, and will find the truth.

      • Evangelsita
        February 22, 2017 at 21:49

        Erik G,

        Parry does pretty well with contemporary subject matter, where he is positioned to investigate at primary source levels. You will notice reading what he writes then that he often dissects and contradicts what secondary source writers fabricate from glosses of elements and their personal imaginations, distorted by their personal and political desires to define results and outcomes.

        Parry does less well with history, where he holds personal and political beliefs, and equivalent imaginations, about past events. There he becomes a religious bigot, flogging his personally conjectured and personal-belief “documented” constructions. When he does that he writes the same kind of garbage as others who do the same. The product he produces evidences that he does not review facts. He may review arguments, but not with an objective or discriminating eye. He, as all religious believers seeking affirmations for their beliefs do, reviews for agreement, with no interest to discern fact, or dispel fictions. He flogs the fictions that he favors.

        My suggestion to him is to stay away from history where he cannot maintain objectivity. To stay with current events where he can review objectively. That is what I reiterated above, with some emphasis.

  11. February 21, 2017 at 18:16

    It is unfortunate that the place regarded by America as a shrine to Thomas Jefferson is controlled by those who have accepted the “Sally story.” There are virtually no records of Sally Hemings. We know nothing of her personality, what her days were like at Monticello, or even a single quote of anything she said. Those who choose to believe that she had a relationship with Thomas Jefferson cannot cite a single instance of any interaction between the two over the thirty-five years she lived at Monticello and supposedly bore his six children. There is no support for the so-called liaison in Paris, this story first unveiled by one of her sons more than fifty years after Jefferson’s death, and unsupported by any other person or document. Yet, fueled by the imagination of various writers, this relationship is presented as historical truth. Even the DNA, which only identified the Jefferson male line, and even then only one out of the six children, is constantly touted as “proof” of Jefferson’s paternity of all six children. The latest maneuver by Monticello is the location of the “Sally room,” which tourists will believe has some actual historical basis. At least four books have examined the available evidence and conclude that this paternity has not been proved. The most authoritative is the Scholars Commission Report which had the participation of thirteen prominent historians. No book has systematically reviewed the reliable historical evidence and concluded that Jefferson was the father of all six children.

  12. February 21, 2017 at 14:29

    Evidence: Jefferson was one of the remarkable group of Virginia liberal slaveholders who hoped to free the slaves and colonize them in Africa. In Notes on Virginia, first published in 1782 shortly after his term of office as governor, Jefferson explained his legislative program for the emancipation of all -slaves born after the passage of his law, providing for education at public expense “according to their geniuses,” and thereafter to be colonized in a distant area under the protection of this country.

    Evidence: Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence, 28 June, 1776, – he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. [determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce [determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold]

    Evidence: Jefferson had access to many other women at Monticello who could have satisfied his carnal interests. Yet, so far as the record shows, he remained fixated on Sally Hemings, arranging her life at Monticello so that she interacted with him on a daily basis for almost four decades. Despite the brutal public attention focused on the pair after James Callender exposed their relationship in 1802, Jefferson continued to have children with Hemings.

    Evidence: France did not permit slavery, slaves brought into the country
    could petition the government to achieve their freedom, a process that was usually
    successful, Sally and James Hemings would almost certainly
    have been aware of their right to freedom and the means to achieve it; there was a
    community of former slaves in Paris and freedom cases were brought and won in this
    period. Yet they returned with Jefferson.

    There is no evidence to suggest that Jefferson forced himself upon Hemings. Given his views on slavery and the fact that she did not remain in Paris suggests otherwise.

  13. Sev
    February 21, 2017 at 13:02

    Near the end of the 18th century, other European nations began to enact age of consent laws. The broad context for that change was the emergence of an Enlightenment concept of childhood focused on development and growth. This notion cast children as more distinct in nature from adults than previously imagined, and as particularly vulnerable to harm in the years around puberty. The French Napoleonic code provided the legal context in 1791 when it established an age of consent of 11 years. The age of consent, which applied to boys as well as girls, was increased to 13 years in 1863.

    Like France, many other countries, increased the age of consent to 13 in the 19th century. Nations, such as Portugal, Spain, Denmark and the Swiss cantons, that adopted or mirrored the Napoleonic code likewise initially set the age of consent at 10-12 years and then raised it to between 13 and 16 years in the second half of the 19th century. In 1875, England raised the age to 13 years; an act of sexual intercourse with a girl younger than 13 was a felony. In the U.S., each state determined its own criminal law and age of consent ranged from 10 to 12 years of age. U.S. laws did not change in the wake of England’s shift. Nor did Anglo-American law apply to boys.

    BTW, ‘pedophile’ refers to those attracted to prepubescent individuals, the actual word you’re looking for is hebephile in this situation.

  14. Cody
    February 21, 2017 at 11:34

    I think you put it perfectly when you said, ” it’s true that unequivocal evidence does not exist”
    Keep in mind, anything asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence

  15. February 21, 2017 at 09:07

    Reading these comments I have formed the view you are all “cattle trucked”. Jefferson looks like a kiddie fiddler to me. Remember, “the biggest A###s###les champion the most worthy causes to further their own interests” (quote and copyright Jack flanigan)_

  16. Terry Washington
    February 21, 2017 at 04:47

    Given that ANY sexual relationship(irrespective of gender, age or race) in which the individual who submits does against his/her own free will(as in prison) in a coercive environment could be termed rape, then yes by those standards, Thomas Jefferson was a rapist! if Sally Hemings refused his advances, Jefferson would be well within his rights to have her flogged or even worse have her or her/their children “sold down the river”!

  17. Paineite
    February 21, 2017 at 00:44

    It has been proven only — insofar as I know — that only one of the Hemmings’ line — Eston, the youngest of six — had Jefferson family DNA. Beyond that it is just hearsay upon hearsay and various appeals to the majority and to authority. Perhaps it’s true — perhaps not. But that’s an ENORMOUS leap to rapist and paedophile as others have rightly pointed out. To have fathered Eston, wouldn’t Jefferson have had to be in his 80s?

    And here is the good author’s appeal to reason; “Though it’s true that unequivocal evidence does not exist — Hemings did not save a semen-stained blue dress so it could later be subjected to DNA analysis — historians have increasingly come to accept the reality of Jefferson’s sexual involvement with his young slave girl who was only 14 when she moved into Jefferson’s residence in Paris.”

    It goes “fact,” “semen-stained dress sarcasm/slander,” “appeal to the majority.” This is just a hate-screed. I don’t blame people for being emotional about the subject. The history of slavery more than justifies it. But I put greater stock in fairness. If it comes out that Jefferson was “the beast” as caracatured by the author, then so be it. Until then, I’ll remain critical of hearsay evidence trotted about as truth.

    • Zachary Smith
      February 21, 2017 at 01:49

      To have fathered Eston, wouldn’t Jefferson have had to be in his 80s?

      Since you’re posting here presumably you have access to Google as well. The Internet Tubes say Eston was born 1808, and T. Jefferson 1743. A subtraction yields T. Jefferson age at E. Hemmings birth as 65 years.

      Are you aware that some serious DNA testing has been done on the descendents? Have you read a single recent history book about Jefferson?

  18. Charles Homsy
    February 20, 2017 at 23:07

    What a sodden story. Sorry to read it but it is likely probable, given the circumstances described.

  19. Joe J Tedesky
    February 20, 2017 at 22:53

    It’s always a bit of a rush when first learning the truth over the myth. Our Republic is still fairly young, and the telling of our history in a good way up until recently has had the cover of patriotism to hide it’s not so proud moments, and all so far for the good of unity. What we should question is how this sqeeky clean image has and is still being used. America is always portrayed as a good and democratic country, even as our planes bomb a Doctors without Borders hospital. Later the excuses are accepted as collateral damage, and America goes back to becoming the solid defender of liberties and freedom unquestioned. So maybe it is time to tell it like it is, and to deal more with improving our flawed nature, and start accepting other cultures and nations more as our equals, rather than our always looking down from above to appraise them for regime change…then we really would live up to the American myth.

  20. Sangy
    February 20, 2017 at 22:53

    The comments on this article show that Americans have not come to terms with their heritage (their history, if you prefer), in the least.
    What’s significant about American slavery is how it codified the sense of the colonizers as a “chosen” people. Even Lincoln referred to America as “Israel”. It is in how the colonizera related to those who appeared different that the seeds of ‘Manifest Destiny’ and its modern version ‘American exceptionalism’ arose.
    It is one thing to criticize Jefferson and all his contemporaries’ hypocrisy. But would the colony have had any economy worth mentioning were it not for slavery?
    I’m not defending this odious institution, rather pointing out that “American values” we’re born bloodied, but her by bludgeons and we’ve not managed to shake that identity yet.
    Trump may have promised isolationism abroad, but his rhetoric hasn’t forsworn violence, rather just turned it inward, with a cry no less detrimental to America’s image as a leader, by promoting homogeneity our culture has always promoted with acute fury. Trump hasn’t ended the era of identity politics that we sorely need to fulfill the promise of Jefferson’s (or Obama’s) beautiful words. He’s just championed an identity that had gone out of fashion because of the kind of shameful history this article references that also attaches to it.

    • Bart in Virginia
      February 21, 2017 at 10:06

      Sangy asks, But would the colony have had any economy worth mentioning were it not for slavery?

      The following is from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ case for reparations in the Atlantic magazine:

      “In 1860, slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America’s manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together,” the Yale historian David W. Blight has noted. “Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy.”

      • Sangy
        February 21, 2017 at 12:45

        Thank you Bart. I read an economic historians review of the cotton trade some time ago. He pointed out that the West African slaves not only brought the physical strength that the colonizers could not muster (and characterized as savage brute ness) but also knowledge about cotton farming that colonizers lacked as they sought to enter this boom industry. The untold side of colonial history is how advanced, and wealthy the conquered civilizations were. The West only tells stories of the poverty left after they ravaged these peoples. The wealthy kingdoms of West Africa are no exception.

  21. February 20, 2017 at 22:02

    Gee, the Real Thomas Jefferson makes Donald Trump look vituous in comparison.

  22. historicus
    February 20, 2017 at 21:04

    Let’s not forget that Sally was Jefferson’s late wife’s half-sister, shall we. She was not the “coal-black Sally” of contemporary Federalist doggerel but 3/4 white. Her father, Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles, openly cohabitated with Sally’s mother, and had six children with her, much to the horror of the Virginia gentry.

    I’m surprised and disappointed that this article does not even mention the historian Fawn Brodie’s groundbreaking work on the Hemmings-Jefferson liaison. She characterizes theirs as a love “that dare not speak its name” in the stifling social conventions of that time and place.

    Let us not forget that all human beings are frail and imperfect and often driven by passions they do not themselves understand. Psychoanalyzing historical figures is a tempting way to smugly congratulate ourselves on our oh-so enlightened modern thinking, but it is fatuous. Even a trained psychiatrist sitting down to interview a person face-tof-face can fail at this task. To know the contents of another person’s heart based on what papers of theirs and recollections of them that chance has allowed to come down to us is impossible.

    Racial antipathy is the most emotional and embarrassing scandal of the American civic religion. Its intractability all but voids the self-congratulatory delusion that America is somehow the new Zion with a holy destiny to reform the world in its image. But blaming individual blacks or whites for the poor behavior their culture expects of them is a simplistic reaction that robs both of their humanity. In truth, nothing more than flawed human nature is revealed in our shared racist past and present. No wonder some of us wish it were all a simple morality play with identifiably “bad” actors and “good” actors. But a fatuous yearning for simple solutions to complex problems is not a character trait of a responsible, self-governing people who would long retain their liberty.

  23. evelync
    February 20, 2017 at 20:06

    Thanks again, Robert Parry, for delving into the challenging contradictions between our mythology and the truth. There’s a heavy dose of denial behind our belief in our “exceptionalism” – idealizing deeply flawed national “heroes” who in reality violated the illusions we cling to.

    If we were a healthy country we would accept that there are other countries out there too and there is no real basis for our so called “exceptionalism” unless we believe our own illusions – each time one is shattered we go into denial or theres a witch hunt…..to punish the perpetrator for threatening the illusions we hold so dear.

    Our presidents have done some very terrible things – Honduran Coup, Shock and Awe, internment of Japanese Americans, Iran Contra, it goes on and on and on.

    And yet we seem to choose weak, irresponsible leaders who are deemed “strong” and “protective” because they wage war and threaten people. And yet a standard test from the MSM to candidates for president is to ask them during a debate to hold up their hands if they believe in exceptionalism….hah hah hah….it couldn’t get any crazier….

    When will Americans learn that a strong president is a man or woman who will stand up against such horrible things and instead fight for sustainability and fairness?…. like Bernie Sanders “a decent, honest, New Deal” democrat. That choice will not stand!

    Jefferson sounds insane, a weak, delusional man in serious denial.
    He probably fits right in with some of the others. I think I finally get the Mad Magazine drawings of Mount Rushmore:

    • Rob Roy
      February 20, 2017 at 20:54

      Agree. Thanks, evelync.

  24. Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
    February 20, 2017 at 20:05

    One Nation Under SEX…………….

  25. Adele Roof
    February 20, 2017 at 19:49

    To call Jefferson a pedophile and rapist is way to politically correct for my taste. What happened can’t be judged by today’s ethics and laws. I’m not thrilled with his record on slavery, hypocritical to the core, but this is going too far. And, if, indeed, Sally Hemmings was able to make a deal with him, as you indicate above, then it was not rape. It was a deal. According to what you state, she had the choice to remain in France. A rapist would not have given her any choice. For all we know, she had a much better life than she would otherwise have had, were she not his concubine.

    • Rob Roy
      February 20, 2017 at 20:56

      Adele, ahem, he raped her when she was a fourteen year old girl.

      • Dwight
        February 20, 2017 at 23:51

        I’m with Rob Roy but I think that the term “pedophile” is not scientifically or legally correct. A point I hesitate to make because a 14 year old is a child in any age, especially in light of the power Jefferson had. I think “rape” is accurate and duly excoriates Jefferson.

      • Kathy oliver
        February 21, 2017 at 00:04

        @ Rob Roy: As a woman, I agree with Adele Roof. And how do you know Sally didn’t consent to sexual relations with Jefferson? They did not have statutory rape laws in those days. In fact, many women in that era were betrothed or married at that age.

        • Sangy
          February 21, 2017 at 12:33

          So rape doesn’t exist until it’s defined legally?
          We are resurrecting the famous Bill O’Reilly meme of the “well-fed slave” in this land that extols “Liberty” as the supreme characteristic of the human condition, (surpassing our Grecian roots by elevating it even above reason).

          As an aside, I don’t quite understand how being women buttresses your arguments. It appears to me to be a non sequitur.

    • Patrick Lucius
      February 20, 2017 at 21:07

      I agree, way too politically correct. Nonsense,,,

    • K0nsider
      February 20, 2017 at 22:47

      In a comment above, the writer claims that this article is “politically correct.” and “goes too far”. “Politically correct”? I am not sure exactly what that means anymore. On the face of it, I thought it meant that people are silenced when saying certain things they’re not supposed to say. The phrase has been appropriated by certain people who contend that when people criticize racism, or sexism, or, as in this instance, tell the truth about Jefferson being a rapist, it’s supposedly “politically correct,” A far more apt description of “political correctness” is the insistence that the public adhere to typical narratives about the benevolence of the “founding fathers” as icons of democracy, instead of looking at, and talking about such historical realities as the US being founded upon slavery, and the mass genocide of indigenous people.

  26. Bill Bodden
    February 20, 2017 at 19:01

    Apparently, Jefferson and his contemporaries had a credo similar to Donald Trump’s “when you’re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything ”

    Why current high school students having access to the Internet and, hopefully, Consortium News perhaps their generation will be less naive than graduates of previous generations.

    • Bill Bodden
      February 20, 2017 at 19:02

      Oops. “Why current” should have been “with current.”

    • JD
      February 20, 2017 at 19:25

      Apparently some people will take any opportunity to take a shot at President Trump when the parallels tilt far more in the direction of the defeated former candidate’s husband, as Mr. Perry notes. Nonetheless, rapist or not, Jefferson was the foremost spokesman of the interests of the Southern slaveholders, prior to and after the Constitutional Convention, to which he referred as “an assembly of demigods,” challenging Hamilton’s proposals for a strong federal government at every turn, lest such a powerful government interfere with the Southern states’ right to the slave system. Fortunately, President Washington sided with Secretary Hamilton and against Jefferson on every key issue.

  27. Richard Leon Linfield
    February 20, 2017 at 19:01

    Just so your readers know: This account does not match up with many others that show Jefferson as a dedicated and protective, if unmarried, husband and father to Sally and her children. Because of this, the press denounced him as a “miscegenator” during his lifetime.
    Jefferson tried to get an anti-slavery cause into the founding documents of the US.

    • Richard Leon Linfield
      February 20, 2017 at 19:24

      I meant to write: “to Sally Hemmings and their children” and not “her children.” It was well known that his new family was with Sally Hemmings.
      He didn’t try to get slavery banned in the founding documents, but he was constantly against slavery and was vilified for it. As discussed in http://www.monticello.org — “Throughout his entire life, Thomas Jefferson was a consistent opponent of slavery. Calling it a “moral depravity” and a “hideous blot,”Jefferson believed that slavery presented the greatest threat to the survival of the new American nation. Jefferson also thought that slavery was contrary to the laws of nature, which decreed that everyone had a right to personal liberty. These views were radical in a world where unfree labor was the norm. … At the time of the American Revolution, Jefferson was actively involved in legislation that he hoped would result in slavery’s abolition. In 1778, he drafted a Virginia law that prohibited the importation of enslaved Africans. In 1784, he proposed an ordinance that would ban slavery in the Northwest territories.”
      He did not try to hide his truly familial relationship with Sally Hemmings and their children, though he was hated for it.

      • Bill Bodden
        February 20, 2017 at 21:16

        He didn’t try to get slavery banned in the founding documents, but he was constantly against slavery and was vilified for it. As discussed in http://www.monticello.org — “Throughout his entire life, Thomas Jefferson was a consistent opponent of slavery. Calling it a “moral depravity” and a “hideous blot,”Jefferson believed that slavery presented the greatest threat to the survival of the new American nation.

        If he really believed what the above abstract indicates, why didn’t he give his slaves their freedom? He didn’t need the government to do that. More hypocrisy?

        • Katherine
          February 20, 2017 at 23:56

          I believe that it was illegal for freed slaves to remain in Virginia. He obviously cared about Sally and his children by her, so freeing them would mean that they would have to leave the state. The book, “The Hemingses of Monticello” , discusses this at length.

        • Erik G
          February 21, 2017 at 08:39

          He was urged to do that by friend Thad. Kosciusko, a Polish general involved in the US revolution, but did not free his slaves until his death. I would attribute that to the fact that it meant giving up his income and political position, when that would have meant poverty and abandonment of his positive effects upon society. That would be a tough call in any era.

          • David
            February 21, 2017 at 11:57

            Again I have to ask WTF is wrong with you? The ends justify the means? In order to do any good for man kind he had to pretend to go along with the evil? I really want to help mankind, but the only way to do so is to exploit others, if I stop exploiting these others I wont be able to do any good for the world.

            What a conundrum!

          • Sam F
            February 22, 2017 at 17:51

            Too emotional, David, jumping to a conclusion of betrayed principles. I am arguing a difficult truth for good reason, and that will never be satisfying in identifying people and principles.

            You are confusing judging the principle with judging the individual, Having someone to hate as a symbol of the principle, has no value and leads to error. No one is above compromise as a necessity in dealing with circumstances beyond their control. That does not make everyone a hypocrite and monster merely rationalizing the worst in their society.

            Also you are ignoring the damage to the national mythology that we depend upon to introduce the young and naive to moral principles in government. It is not necessary to attack Jefferson to show the savagery of slavery. But it is necessary to show that good government in the future can be based upon the good elements of the past. That does not

          • Sam F
            February 22, 2017 at 17:54

            …suggest looking for the worst of the better persons, but rather focusing upon the the clear examples of unalloyed moral error. Then with older and better educated people, we can marvel that people like Jefferson did not do better throughout their lives. But we will know why: their circumstances both constrained and misled them.

        • LuisCuellar
          February 23, 2017 at 12:37

          May I suggest that as Jefferson retained “ownership” on his slaves he did provide them a sort of protection against being kidnapped and re-sold (as it occurred and told in “Twelve Years a Slave”)?

          Jefferson isn’t around to defend his position, where he had to live and function in the USA of his times (late 1700’s, early 1800’s). So “attacking” (or defending) him is rather pointless. His contributions to history are complete, and we are left with open interpretation of what the legacy he contributed is. Rather unfair because he can’t do (or say) anything to defend himself from attacks. But WE can choose to follow him or improve on what he did.

          So, what have you done to help improve the “human condition” lately? Write an open-ed on a website …. ? It’s a start if it leads to an honest, and educative dialogue. Just saying my “two cents”.

          But give Thomas Jefferson some credit for being smart and clever, and wording his position/beliefs into the Declaration of Independence and including words that stated his true sentiments without defining specifically “men”, which lays the foundation to include “all men”, and later “all humans”. This leads to the concept of “human rights”.

          Regardless of what his intentions where in the 1800’s (300 years ago!) the fact that his words have a (positive) impact into the “human condition” should be honored and appreciated. Whatever you and I think his stand is/was 300 years ago is a wavelet to the tsunami he started.

          [That you have the “right to criticize” him 300 after his death is part of his legacy. Ironic isn’t it?]

          • LuisCuellar
            February 23, 2017 at 12:39

            Oops! “… 300 years after his death …”

    • John
      February 20, 2017 at 19:45

      Richard could you give us some links to get started on reading the info you are referring to? I am sure that many other readers as well as myself are curious about which narrative is correct.

      • Zachary Smith
        February 20, 2017 at 21:46

        There is a wiki titled “Thomas Jefferson and slavery” to examine. Jefferson’s initial draft for the Declaration of Independence included an accusation against the British king, saying

        he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

        All Jefferson was doing here was constructing a story with background. The southern slave owners were worried about the Crown inciting their slaves to side with the King against the the rebellion. This kind of revolt was the worst nightmare of those slave owners.

        Jefferson later had many opportunities to do something about slavery, but he passed on all of them. The man reminds me of an Early Obama – Obama could talk real purty, but that’s all he was good for. Jefferson was an amazing wordsmith, but that’s all he was good for.

        Jefferson has been on the US nickel coin since 1938. It’s high time his vile image was removed. The US hasn’t had a real Liberty coin for a good while now, so that would be my choice. Most of our Liberty women were very plain – the exceptions being the Standing Liberty quarter, the Walking Liberty Half, and the Winged Liberty Head “Mercury” dime. The Walking Liberty design is being used on bullion coins and isn’t available, and I doubt if the Fundamentalists would tolerate the most beautiful Standing Liberty version – the 1916-1917 dates.

        Since only incompetents are allowed at the US Mint sketch tables these days, I advocate stealing a foreign design, and my personal favorite is the 1919 4 centavo Portugal coin.


        I’ll confess I’ve got another reason for wanting the design on the US nickel coin changed. Around 2003 it began to dawn on the Bush Worshipers that they were not going to get their man on Mt. Rushmore, so I believe they settled for the US nickel coin as a runner-up. If you have that model in your pocket, fish it out and give the thing a close inspection. Look at the close and squinty eyes, and the overall impression of a Well Groomed Chimp.

        Yes, there are two reasons I want that coin gone.

        But the fact remains – Mr. Parry is correct, and Jefferson is an abomination.

      • Richard Leon Linfield
        February 20, 2017 at 21:53

        John, thanks for your interest. Without any effort, I found the Monticello link which I quoted. I don’t have particular sources I can recommend because I seldom keep track of my reading. Over the last ten years I’ve come across many books and articles on the subject and am sure some research would lead you to a wide variety of both fact and opinion. I appreciate the response by “historicus” below and its reference to Fawn Brodie. Also I found this, and it’s pretty interesting, from a lawyer at Temple University: http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/dpost/slavery.PDF

        • Zachary Smith
          February 20, 2017 at 22:55

          Also I found this, and it’s pretty interesting, from a lawyer at Temple University….

          That link references Jefferson’s book Notes on Virginia, and that’s not something you want to do if you plan to “elevate” Jefferson. From section 15 of that book:

          “Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour.”

          To Jefferson’s delicate high-born nose, the negro smelled awful. He stunk!

          “But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. 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. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them.”

          1. The darkies can’t think their way out of a paper sack.
          2. They don’t “love” like us white folks, but go into an animal-like rut.
          3. The negro isn’t troubled for very long when Mama dies, or one of her children is sold into slavery and she’ll never see the child again. Transient grief!

          Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad. The Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures on their pipes not destitute of design and merit. They will crayon out an animal, a plant, or a country, so as to prove the existence of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation. They astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture.”

          No imagination, no artistic ability at all, and they can’t even match up with the sub-human American Indians.

          He gives it as a standing precept to a master visiting his farm, to sell his old oxen, old waggons, old tools, old and diseased servants, and every thing else become useless. `Vendat boves vetulos, plaustrum vetus, ferramenta vetera, servum senem, servum morbosum, & si quid aliud supersit vendat.’ Cato de re rustica. c. 2. The American slaves cannot enumerate this among the injuries and insults they receive.

          Ok, I stop here, for I’m rapidly coming to a boil. With this Thomas Jefferson is simply a lying piece of shit. I’ve been driven to tears by the instances travelers tell of the capitalist slavers doing precisely what Jefferson says they never do – abandon their elderly slaves to save money.

          The book Notes on Virgina is online many places. As I said, this is from section 15. Read it and THEN tell me the man wasn’t a worthless scumbag posing as a great thinker and humanitarian.

          • Erik G
            February 21, 2017 at 09:05

            It is easy to agree in principle, but necessary to disagree, for “defending” Jefferson is not defending his errors. We are all mixtures of the errors of our times and the truth that we can see in our circumstances. Like Jefferson’s slaves, and like Jefferson, we are the slaves of our circumstances, and see only the truths clear from our position.

            So I think that we should be glad that we can see further, and forgive those earlier seekers of justice who could not see as far. Jefferson certainly tried, with all his faults, and most tried far less. Not to seek or speak for justice is the hypocrisy worthy of note, while finding flaws only in those who tried, would be in a sense more hypocritical given our advantages.

    • Rob Roy
      February 20, 2017 at 21:19

      Mr. Linfield, just so you and others know, the American Revolution was not about “taxation without representation” nor “high tariffs on tea” or any other flag flown to salute. All our wars have false flag propaganda to excuse our incursion into them. (I will give a pass on WWII, even though the result of a “win” was dividing up the world as the powers saw fit, without regard for the peoples in those lands). The American Revolution was to keep slavey going and all the founding fathers understood that was the reason. Slavery was too profitable to those rich people to give up. There was a scare in 1772 in England when an intelligent slave brought his case to court. That scared the Americans because if Britain prohibited slavery, the Americans would have to follow suit. Thus, they found a way to get out from under British rule and used slaves for nearly another hundred years.
      BTW, the constitution was written for the wealthy (slave owners), property holders, and only those men who fell into that category. It was not for women, anyone not owning property, slaves, any person of color, nor the poor. They were so arrogant that they believed decisions could never be left up to those unlike themselves. As time went by, and people took the constitution to mean “we the people” meaning all of us, then its words could be used in a decent way.
      And for those who buy into the lie that Jefferson had a “loving relationshio” with SH, they should know that the area was indeed populated with many, many Jeffersons. He was a serial rapist in ANY era. The idea of exceptionalism is arrogant beyond belief, but that’s the general thinking of white people. Indeed, Americans are exceptional: exceptionally hegemonic, dangerous, arrogant, greedy and, frankly, the most feared country on the planet, followed by Israel.

      • Joe J Tedesky
        February 21, 2017 at 12:34

        I’m not going to make excuses for any of our Forefathers who came before us. Instead of going to great lengths to rationalize why these men (they were mostly, if not all men) did the things they did, I wish we would all accept their acts as fact, and then move on.

        Close your eyes for a moment, and picture the New World as an untouched land ready for the plucking. Just think of all the trees to clear and the wood to be sawed into planks, and the breaking of new land to plow for planting seeds and later to package the fresh born fruit to be sold for a profit, and then be left to plan out the logistics with how to do that. I should also mention here, that these early European pioneers had to remove the local Native Indigenous in some manner, so as to pursue their claiming of this New World land, that too took manpower as well as woman power to help conquer this untamed land away from what these early settlers deemed as unchristian savages. Basically our Forefathers were nothing more than greedy racist who would later commission that a pretty narrative would be written so as to fill their great grandchildren with rainbows of patriotism so as their off spring could continue to go forward with and take pride in what they inherited.

        The early settlers and our Founding Fathers were filled with contradiction just as much as we today are filled with the same contradiction. While they preached from on high during their Sunday day of worship, and then on Monday they whipped their slaves senselessly at the whipping post, we may someday be judged in a manner which we judge those of yesteryear. We parade around the world as spreaders of democracy while we up end stable governments only to replace them with our own hand picked dictators. While we stubbornly keep a for profit only healthcare system we brag we have the best healthcare system in the world, rival statistics be damned anything other than what we say is fake news. Why one could even argue how our big box stores sell us slave labor made merchandise all the time when you from time to time read about the many sweat shops our big retail corporations employ. The only advantage we modern Americans have over our slave owning forefathers is our slaves are out of sight, and out of mind.

        Jefferson was an ugly figure who spoke with eloquence galore. Take his eloquence and enjoy it. Take his ugliness and do what you must. Call him a man of his time, look upon his life and his work as giving you a place to sing the National Anthem before every ball game with pride, but know this we are all but like him for our hipocracy is inherited well, and it has no glorious bounds for how the story is finally told.

        If 240 years ago all men were declared to be equal, then why still today do some men have more than others?

        • Erik G
          February 22, 2017 at 18:16

          Exactly, “our slaves are out of sight, and out of mind” and almost no one complains. There are similar rationales like “it will be good for them while they are developing” that we know are really false. But those who are working against other wrongs are not hypocrites for also buying the foreign article that may come from a sweatshop.

          No liberals (or cons) were interested when I suggested about 1990 an international import tax to equalize foreign & domestic wholesale costs for products of comparable quality, based upon general living conditions in the supplier nation, adjusted for labor conditions of each producer. This funds massive foreign aid to the producer nation to raise standards of education and health care, and permits wage increases, because these will not affect the wholesale cost in the consumer nations.

          This has the further benefit of assessing and raising product quality, which avoids cheating the consumer and wasting resources on products with health or safety problems, incompetent design, or professionally-degraded durability. That should be a high priority in itself, especially for domestic products, as it removes the reward for supplier cheating and false advertising, by catching it at the design stage and assigning a quality grade required during marketing, so consumers know whether the product will last two or twenty years.

          This can be done within the US and then generalized by the UN.

  28. Realist
    February 20, 2017 at 18:39

    Just the fact that slavery was a thriving institution in America up until the Emancipation Proclamation tells you that values and attitudes were quite different (sick by our standards) into the 18th and 19th centuries. Rape was undoubtedly considered an accepted perquisite of owning another human being. When you consider that, on average, African Americans are genetically approximately one-third European, you know there was a lot of forced sexual relations going on… and it wasn’t white mistresses rolling in the sack with black movie characters like Mandingo. It was patriarchs like Jefferson exerting his implied domination of human beings like he would over a horse or a dog. They are objects to do with as you will.

    So, what are we to do about it all now? Call out our “founding fathers” as a bunch of cruel hypocrites (which they were)? Stop revering them as men who strode like gods? Tear down their statues and rename our stone memorials? We must certainly reject those parts of the constitution they crafted which allowed slavery and other forms of male European domination over others (such as genocide against the Native Americans). What else in that document needs to be recrafted? We can all think of things, but would that be opening a Pandora’s box that could lead to even worse? Look at the privileges the courts have given to corporations. Would a constitutional convention end up giving them even more, as it might well be hijacked by “free speech” (i.e., money)? Some will insist on scrutinizing the past, looking for redress of injustice. Others will insist upon an Obama approach of ignoring heinous crimes to “move forward” with minimum unpleasantness. Talk about opening a can of worms. But if there is a truth to learn, it must be faced.

    • JD
      February 20, 2017 at 22:57

      It is not necessary to denounce all of our Founding Fathers simply because some of the truths about Jefferson are being brought to light. George Washington, was not only the leader of the War of Independence but was a wise and respected president. Benjamin Franklin, was perhaps the most influential person of the era while fellow foes of slavery John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, and of course, Alexander Hamilton formed the nucleus of the administration of President Washington. It was Morris who led the anti-slavery fight at the convention. The three-fifths clause, which greatly expanded the slave states power, was passed over his vehement and eloquent opposition. Jefferson was not present at the convention but as a Cabinet member, opposed every effort by Hamilton to extend Federal Power over the issues of the national debt, national credit,and a national bank and demanded that Hamilton agree to move the capital to the South in exchange for Jefferson’s cooperation in the assumption of the nation’s debts. Jefferson resigned in bitterness in 1793, angered over Washington’s continuing support for Hamilton’s policies, whereupon Washington never spoke with Jefferson thereafter…

      • Realist
        February 21, 2017 at 01:45

        I asked the question, what should we make of them now? By the standards of their time these were enlightened men. Since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Chinese, the Mongols, the Arabs, the Vikings and others have kept slaves, some serving as concubines. Even the patriarchs of the Old Testament kept slaves and concubines with “God’s blessing.” The Christian Churches of the era did not condemn slavery, or it wouldn’t have started with Columbus on Hispaniola and persisted in Dixie until 1862.

        Today we would condemn Washington and Jefferson for the specific act of owning slaves, and the rest of the founding fathers (including Franklin et al.) for agreeing to a constitution that codified the institution of slavery, even though contemporary European countries had outlawed the practice. If we decide to condemn them under our present standards, should we not scrutinize our own practices which include the virtual economic enslavement of other countries after we subjugate them, often with our military. Are not many present day American oligarchs and corporations tantamount to virtual slave holders as they exploit sweatshop and child labor in third world countries? How does one unravel moral judgement from the mores of time and place? After all, we still presently have one faction of laissez faire capitalists claiming that their liberties and prerogatives under the constitution guarantee the right to economically exploit workers (anything less would be a restraint on their “pursuit of happiness;” read the TPP for their latest manifesto on the subject) and another faction of social activists who counter that the rights and liberties under the constitution are meant to protect workers from such exploitation.

        I know where I stand on such matters (and it’s not with the unregulated uber capitalists), but the courts and public opinion seems to blow in the wind from one historical era to the next. What is an obvious human right granted by their “creator” in the mind of one person is not so obvious to another. And both sides will argue till the cows come home that their stand is rooted in virtue, principle and logic, never power or greed. Many Americans argue that our national values are rooted in the Christian faith, but I see contradictions rather than confirmations there and such proclamations of little value in protecting human rights.

        • hyperbola
          February 21, 2017 at 09:21

          “…started with Columbus on Hispanola…”

          Far too often we have only vague prejudices based on “history written by the victorious” – especially in the English-speaking bubble. This continues to this day and it is informative to read/compare the Spanish-language Wiki article with the English one. In fact, The Spanish monarchy instructed that Indians in the New World should NOT be slaves from the very beginning.

          “”Al saber la reina Isabel I de Castilla que Colón estaba haciendo esclavos a los indios ordenó que no se tratara así a sus súbditos, sino como otros súbditos de la corona, y ordenó que se castigara con la pena de muerte a todo aquel que tuviera indios como esclavos. Esto privó a Bartolomé de Las Casas del servicio de su indio. Colón argumentó que los indios esclavos solamente eran los que se habían hecho prisioneros en “guerra justa” y que las costumbres de estos eran paganas y a veces caníbales y que bien estaba traerlos a Castilla para así quitarlos de esas costumbres. La reina respondió que se afanara por convertirlos al cristianismo en sus tierras. Isabel falleció en 1504 y en su testamento pidió que se tratara bien y justamente a los indios, sin hacerles ofensas.”” ….

          …. Queen Isabel decreed the death penalty for those who held indians as slaves…..

          “”De esta junta, reunida en Burgos en 1512, y de la posterior en 1513, surgieron las primeras normas para defender a los nativos,10 y con todas las normas posteriores pasaron a constituir las Leyes de Indias, la primera legislación de derechos humanos de la historia. Aunque su aplicación en el Nuevo Mundo era muchas veces pasada por alto.”” …

          …. the first laws of human rights of history were those defending indians in the New World in 1512 and 1513…

          “” … el rey Carlos I promulgó el 20 de noviembre de 1542 las Leyes Nuevas. Ellas prohibieron la esclavitud de los indios y ordenaron que todos quedaran libres de los encomenderos y fueran puestos bajo la protección directa de la Corona. Disponían además que, en lo concerniente a la penetración en tierras hasta entonces no exploradas, debían participar siempre dos religiosos, que vigilarían que los contactos con los indios se llevaran a cabo en forma pacífica dando lugar al diálogo que propiciara su conversión. Las Leyes Nuevas fueron uno de los más importantes aportes al derecho de gentes que efectuó el rey Carlos I como consecuencia de sus conversaciones con fray Bartolomé de las Casas….””
          …. Carlos I reinforced the prohibition of slavery in 1542 ……

          The Spanish monarchy banned slavery of Indians in the New World THREE CENTURIES before the US. This was extended to blacks and had tremendous historical consequences. To this day the bulk of “African-descended” population in the New World is in the former British, Dutch and Portuguese colonies – because the bulk of slave trading was financed by the jewish bankers of London and Amsterdam and carried out by jews in those colonies. This impinged on the US in several ways. For example, as long as it was a Spanish colony (until 1821), Florida was a haven for blacks that escaped from “american-democracy”.

          Similarly, when Mexico won its independence from Spain (1821), it decided to keep the centuries-old ban on slavery. “Remember the Alamo” was in fact a war to impose slave-based cotton plantations in Texas for the benefit of the textile industry of the “city of london” in Britain.

          Slavery and the Myth of the Alamo http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/146405

          The disparagement towards Latinos that characterizes the US to this day may be because the Spanish offered a different model for development of the New World. Perhaps it is no accident that the nearly exhaustive genocides of indian populations in the US were NOT observed in most of the Spanish New World. Where such genocides happened, it was often because of disease, and here the Spanish also had a different model.

          The Balmis Expedition (1803–1806) was a three-year mission to the Americas led by Dr. Francisco Javier de Balmis with the aim of vaccinating millions against smallpox. Vaccination, a much safer way to prevent smallpox than older methods such as inoculation, had been introduced by the English physician Edward Jenner in 1798.

          The Balmis expedition set off from A Coruña on 30 November 1803. It may be considered the first international health-care expedition in history.[1][2] The discoverer of the vaccine, Edward Jenner himself, wrote, “I don’t imagine the annals of history furnish an example of philanthropy so noble, so extensive as this.”….

          • Realist
            February 21, 2017 at 20:26

            I see, so all that Inca gold mined itself, or the victims of the theft were paid good wages and benefits for their labor. And the Native Americans who strenuously opposed the elevation of Juniperro Serra to sainthood by Pope Francis just don’t know the history of their own people.


            “To Native Americans like Valentin Lopez, the chairman of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band based in Sacramento, those lessons are not complicated. Serra, in his view, was part of a colonial enterprise whose goal was the complete subjugation of California’s native peoples. The mission system he set up was based on coercion, punishment and indifference to Indian suffering, against which his expressions of piety were no more than window-dressing.”

            Apparently, there was the odd day or two in which the Spanish crown was just a little remiss in its protection of the native peoples under their control.

            I suspect that Spanish history is just as revisionist as the English variety.

          • February 21, 2017 at 20:39

            Onate cut off limbs of uncooperative natives. Many Hispanic households had slaves ( perhaps referred to as servants). One of the few native peoples that welcomed the USAans was the Pueblo people because the USAans were in this case an improvement of the hispanics who burnt many natives at the stake for heresy. Columbus slow grilled natives and cut of ears when they did not provide a gold ration.

    • David
      February 21, 2017 at 11:51

      “So, what are we to do about it all now? Call out our “founding fathers” as a bunch of cruel hypocrites (which they were)? Stop revering them as men who strode like gods?”

      Absolutely, unequivocally, yes!

  29. Stephen
    February 20, 2017 at 18:30

    In a book published recently called “the American Slave Coast”, I believe I am recalling correctly Thomas Jefferson being quoted as saying that each slave baby born was “an addition to the capital”.

    • Tully
      February 21, 2017 at 12:45

      It is a book everyone should read.
      The prohibition against the importation of slaves in 1808 brought about the breeding of slaves for profit (addition to the capital – and its amortization). This often if not always took to form of institutionalized rape. Slaves as property had more value than land as property, for without slave labor, the land lay unproductive.

      • Brad Owen
        February 21, 2017 at 15:17

        This also makes a very important point, although in a “left-handed” fashion. A Nation’s PEOPLE are its’ “national wealth”, NOT money, NOT gold, NOT resources, NOT land. In the next article above, by Andrew Spannaus, he mentions Henry Carey who developed the idea of the American System of Political Economy as protectionism (of a Nation’s industry and agriculture, from imperial attempts to induce colonial dependence upon the “Mother Country”), National Banking (like bank of N. Dakota) and investing in industry, infrastructure, and LABOR. The slavery system was the last overt admission that PEOPLE literally= WEALTH. Meaning: a Ford or Chevy isn’t a Ford or Chevy until competent, skilled LABOR gets the rocks out of the ground, and designs/smelts/machines/fabricates a Ford or a Chevy. Since America had recent experience with slavery, we haven’t lost sight of this honest admission that people=the wealth of a nation (although many strenuous exertions have been made, mostly by American Tory Imperialists-at-heart, to obscure and hide this honest admission, in keeping with their tendency to want to round up a herd of workers that they can “manage”, and ride on them, to a big bank account for himself, after having convinced/deceived them that MONEY is wealth, and not LABOR).

  30. February 20, 2017 at 18:14

    Thanks for this historical perspective on rape and slavery.

    By coincidence, a couple of days ago I offered a perspective on Ted Cruz, revealing him to be complicit with society’s worst rapists — a partner in sexual crime and perpetrator hellbent on punishing rape survivors with monstrous cruelty by granting these women all the legal rights of brood sows. http://fairnow.weebly.com/blog/abortion-vote-man-up-mr-cruz

    • Erik G
      February 21, 2017 at 08:26

      Still it is a mistake to attack Jefferson in particular.

      His writings are sincere advocacy of human rights, the most eloquent we have, and he had the courage to defend them.

      It is of course regrettable that he allowed the standards of his slaveowner culture to lead him astray on mistreatment and luxurious spending. But it is unlikely that he would have gained or retained leadership in that subculture, had he rejected it entirely.

      We can expect that those who early advocate and advance principles of justice in an unjust culture will not be unstained by that culture. And we all participate in a market of goods produced by economic slavery in developing nations, however we may advocate development aid and parity of labor conditions. We have little choice, and we would not be heard on other matters if we unilaterally reject our entire culture.

      Calling heterosexual contact with a seemingly willing 14-year-old “pedophilia” is misleading, especially for that era. Calling his treatment of slaves harsh, while accusing him of harshness for contracting their services to others, would be contradictory.

      So I think we should exercise humility ourselves, do our best, and reserve our criticism of past wrongs for those who sought to promote them, not those who sought to end them.

      • David
        February 21, 2017 at 11:48

        WTF is the matter with you Erik? It was the culture he lived in, so you cant criticize him for going along to get along. Fuck that. I live in a culture of greed and corruption, and yet I manage to avoid being greedy or corrupt.

        You are a prime example of what is wrong with my country. The inability to accept and deal with reality.

        • Erik G
          February 21, 2017 at 14:10

          Jefferson did not “go along to get along” or he would never had achieved what he did.
          Yes, we do live in a culture of greed and corruption, but however we oppose that, in anger and anguish, productiveky or not, we benefit to some extent, and could not survive long if we opposed it everywhere at all times. Yet we are not going along merely to get along.

          The distinction I suggest is between judging the principle vs. judging the individual.
          I do not deny the principle of justice contravened.
          But individuals exist in a society and with circumstances that they cannot always resist or contradict.
          That does not mean that they are innocent, but neither does it mean that they deny the principles they try to advance.
          For the same individual to do today what he may have done then would be indefensible.

          Directing our anger at one of the major opponents of injustice, rather than at the real proponents of slavery, is also a mistake. We should go after the ignorant and selfish and inhuman slavedrivers to avoid confusion. That way we also avoid damaging those parts of the (yes, superficial) national mythology that at least confirm the principles of justice.

          A lesser point is whether we should consider whether Jefferson’s espousal of Hemings was not a brave dissension, even taking nonconformity to a dangerous extent. Perhaps it is not so, or only partially so.

          • February 21, 2017 at 18:50

            Mr. Parry, “mulotto” from the Spanish “mule” is politically incorrect, mixed race is correct.

            Erik, true many male USA exploiters of enslaved people did rape them. But many people at the time refused to rape or enslave. Just as today many murder foreigners and many do not.

            Additionally the renting out of enslaved people did usually incur greater level of suffering upon the victims.

          • Erik G
            February 21, 2017 at 20:28

            Good point about renting slaves, BannanaBoat. Understanding was developing, and Jefferson did free them upon his death, but many suffered until then. Not sure we have a case that he was exceptionally bad relative to his subculture, but it certainly was a corrosive and exploitative subculture.

            I was never more joyful than when I saw, on a visit to the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2005, where I had seen discrimination in my occasional visits as a child, teenagers black and white getting along just fine, and wondering what I was so happy about.

      • Mika
        February 22, 2017 at 13:03

        Do you really believe that a 14yo Black Slave was “willing”? Are you serious? WOW, this is very scary. Call lies for what they are and seeks truth only then will humanity be liberated.

        Jefferson was a serial rapist, pedophile, and a racist. Plain and simple. The foundation of America is very dark, and it has a lot of blood (annihilation of the Native inhabitants, and proposed destruction and total human disregard for the African).

        There is nothing good about this!

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