Following are a few examples of contemporary scholarship sentiment on Jefferson:
-“Thomas Jefferson was demonstrably a racist—and a particularly
aggressive and vindictive one at that…His flaws are beyond
redemption…Jefferson is a patron saint far more suitable to white
supremacists than to modern American liberals.”**
-“Jefferson…did not believe that all men were created equal. He was
-“The third president was a creepy, brutal, hypocrite…always deeply
committee to slavery, and even more deeply hostile to the welfare
of blacks, slave or free. His proslavery views were…deeply
-“Jefferson was a racist. There is no question about that”5*
-Jefferson…was convinced…blacks had to be seen as lower beings
because of their inferiority.”6*
-“Jefferson thought…blacks were inferior to whites in body and
The evidence used to convict Jefferson of racism by modern scholars is twofold:
1.Comments he wrote in ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’
2.Jefferson owned slaves
First, let’s look at what Jefferson wrote in his ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’:
“…that the blacks…are inferior to the whites in the endowments
both of body and mind.”
These comments ‘appear’ to absolutely confirm contemporary Jefferson critics. I’m sure you are wondering how I could possibly think otherwise. First, and most important, you must remember liberalism possesses an agenda. Their objective is to discredit America’s Founding Fathers, in order to discredit their principles which were derived exclusively from the Judaeo/Christian ethic, i.e. the Bible; in order to replace those principles with atheism, the religion of liberalism. If you miss this point about liberalism—you’ve missed everything!
The methodology used to accomplish their objective is ‘Historical Revisionism’. HR is best described with the Romans 1:18 principle: “…suppress the truth in unrighteousness…”. When we apply this principle to Jefferson’s quote above, we discover that while it is true that liberals derived the quote from the ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’, but what they didn’t do was give the context. In other words, they conveniently left out, i.e.suppressed facts, that contradict their agenda!
For example, in the immediate context of the above quote, in the ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’, Jefferson actually wrote:
“To our reproach, it must be said that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it, therefore, as a ‘suspicion only’ that the blacks…are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind” (Notes on the State of Virginia’, The Jefferson Lies, pg131).
In the same document, Jefferson also wrote, “…it will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition…”.
Historian David Barton explains, “Jefferson understood that slavery was certainly not a favorable condition in which to compare intellectual abilities. He therefore eagerly invited and even sought outside evidence to disprove what he called his “suspicion only”” (Barton, pg 131).
A letter to Benjamin Banneker further sheds light on Jefferson’s real views. Benjamin Benneker was a free Black man, “…who was a highly accomplished, and a self-taught mathematician and astronomer. He wrote scientific almanacs that were in high demand in Jefferson’s day, “and was able to successfully predict sunsets, sunrises, eclipses, weather conditions, and recurrences of 17-year locust cycles” etc., (Barton, pg 128). Jefferson actually hired Benneker to survey Washington D.C.
In the letter to Benneker, Jefferson wrote:
“Nobody wishes more than I do to see such proofs…that nature has given our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of a want [lack] of them [Blacks] is owing [due] merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa and America.”
Furthermore, on the same day Jefferson wrote Banneker, “he told Condorcet that, “I shall be delighted to see that…the want [lack] of talents observed in them is merely the effect of their degraded condition, and not proceeding from any difference in the structure of the parts on which intellect depends” (Barton, pg132).
After being criticized for his “suspicion only” comments by French abolitionist Henri Gregoire, Jefferson replied,
“Be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained on the grade of understanding allotted to them [blacks] by nature, and to find that in this respect they are on par with ourselves. My doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own state, where the opportunities for the development of their genius were not favorable, and those of exercising it still less so. I expressed them therefore with great hesitation; but whatever be their degree of talent, it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to other in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others” (Barton, pg132).
Finally, Jefferson writes to a friend Joel Barlow, referencing an earlier letter to Gregoire:
“He wrote to me also on the doubts I had expressed five or six and twenty years ago in the Notes of Virginia as to the grade of understanding on the Negroes…It was impossible for doubt to have been more tenderly or hesitatingly expressed than that was in the Notes of Virginia, and nothing was or is farther from my intentions than to enlist myself as the champion of a fixed opinion where I have only expressed a doubt” (Barton, pg133).
Barton concludes, “For today’s writers and academics to convert Jefferson’s loosely held, and cautiously and rarely expressed “suspicions” into unwavering resolute racism is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts” (Barton, pg133).
I heartily concur!!
*Title taken from chapter four of Historian David Barton’s incredible book “The Jefferson Lies”. This tidbit is based upon this book.
** Conor Cruise O’Brian. ‘The Jefferson Lies’, pg 119
***Stephen E. Ambrose. ‘The Jefferson Lies’, pg 119
4*Professor Paul Finkelman. ‘The Jefferson Lies’, pg120
5*Abolitionist, 2/12/97. ‘The Jefferson Lies’, pg120
6*Franziska Massner. ‘The Jefferson Lies’, pg130
7*Oscar Reiss. ‘The Jefferson Lies’. Pg130
If you want the things on the high shelf, you must stand on the books you read. -Jim Rohn