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Thomas Jefferson: One Man, Two Legacies

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/21/thomas-jefferson-one-man-two-legacies

Much of what Thomas Jefferson wrote was a direct copy of a much earlier British Bill of Rights signed almost 100 years early in the united Kindgom.

~https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp

He was not all that original as a revolutionary.

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Three Virginians freeing their slaves would have achieved nothing in a global economy that pivoted on slavery until slavery started falling out of favor after Washington’s death and during Jefferson’s and Madison’s last years.

Far more influential to more than two centuries of US economic disparity was not slavery, but centralized power banksters controlling the economic system launched by Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

Thomas Jefferson abhorred Hamilton’s crooked, elitist economic model, preferring more decentralized banking controlled by the states. The only time the US gubmit applied any semblence of Jefferson’s model was during FDR’s New Deal era (1935-1985). Jefferson was so disgusted with Washington supporting Hamilton’s travesties that he resigned from Washington’s cabinet and never spoke to Washington again.

Shetterly needs to acknowledge that Jefferson’s understanding that racial equality is possible only after economic equality is achieved failing to win out over the Washington/Hamilton model that continues to plague the 99% of all colors in the US and abroad is the crux of the matter.

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“…realpolitik: *The world is a tough place. If your power doesn’t take what it wants, someone else’s will.” Joseph Goebbels in his propaganda films expressed exactly the same philosophy. He even punctuated them will bugs and animals fighting to the death.It is also called “social Darwinism”, survival of the fittest applying the characteristics of the animal world to humanity.

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The philosophy of the US empire is based on ideas similar to that of a regime universally considered the most diabolical, destructive and psychopathic in modern history.

On another tack: Jefferson did free Sally’s children. He made the mistake-from his point of view- of taking her to France where she found that slavery was illegal. She forced him to agree to free their children when they became of age, if she was to return with him.

He couldn’t free his own slaves in his will as Washington did, because he had mortgaged them as collateral for loans to renovate Monticello. When he died he was heavily in debt.

While he wrote that slavery was abhorrent, he also saw it from an accounting perspective. In particular his female slaves were assets that bore interest every time they gave birth increasing his capital(pardon the metaphor but I am illustrating the attitude). He also thought whipping ten year old boys in the nail factory was OK as it increased productivity.

Mr. Jefferson was an economic being, who illustrated how the institution corrupted to the soul those that benefitted from it. Many excuse these people as being part of an era and culture that accepted such a system; but we must remember they were Christians. The bible does not treat slavery very well, and the Quakers were always anti slavery. When they bought Washington’s nephew’s plantation Woodlawn they freed the slaves, some stayed as employees some migrated North.

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“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

… but he lived the life of a tyrant as a slave owner –

My feelings about Jefferson are that he refused to allow the times to interfere with
who he wanted to be – an inventor, designer, artist, scientist, statesman - and then
there was the University of Virginia.

I think he merely saw SLAVERY as something the colonies were forced into by Great Britain,
and basically an ECONOMIC SYSTEM which was the source of his wealth and power.

Was it possible that in his “religious freedom” bill he wanted to ensure for the people
even freedom of the mind and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – but that it was
impossible for him to understand the suffering of Africans enslaved even at Monticello?
There is mention that at one time he owned 600 slaves who were put to work to level a
mountain on which his home would be built.

Described as "a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, Jefferson came within three votes of election.’ Does that tell us anything about his political ambitions – or not?

Thomas Jefferson served as our second Vice President to John Adams
and as the third president of the US – 1801 to 1809

Are there any clues to who Jefferson really was in his presidency – ?

He wrote a bill establishing religious freedom, enacted in 1786.*

When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean. Further, although the Constitution made no provision for the acquisition of new land, Jefferson suppressed his qualms over constitutionality when he had the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803.
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During Jefferson’s second term, he was increasingly preoccupied with keeping the Nation from involvement in the Napoleonic wars, though both England and France interfered with the neutral rights of American merchantmen. Jefferson’s attempted solution, an embargo upon American shipping, worked badly and was unpopular.

Jefferson retired to Monticello to ponder such projects as his grand designs for the University of Virginia. A French nobleman observed that he had placed his house and his mind “on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe.”

Or is it in your personal life that you really exist – ?
Jefferson was 44 when he began a sexual relationship with a 14 year old female slave he owned.
Jefferson stonewalled questions about that relationship and about his children with Hemmings.
And they seemed to live as husband and wife – privately.

Sally Hemmings was (if recall this correctly) fathered by TJ’s father-in-law with one
of his slaves, making Sally Hemmings a half-sister to Jefferson’s deceased wife.

It’s also difficult to judge his true affection for his family with Sally Hemmings – a first
son who was the “spitting image of TJ, in bronze” – with whom he shared work on his
inventions – and none of them freed during his lifetime, though there were reasons why
doing so may endanger them at that time.

I think he understood very clearly the inhumanity of SLAVERY, but refused to sacrifice
his wealth and power to rectify that great wrong.

  • NOTE –
    This Bill , which TJ ranked with the Declaration of Independence, might indeed be considered as a necessary consequence of it: as the Declaration of Independence asserted the natural right of a people to choose any form of government conducive to their safety and happiness, so the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom asserted the natural right of a person to choose his beliefs and opinions free of compulsion.

The following text is a draft written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777. It promoted religious freedom for the state of Virginia . Thomas Jefferson and James Madison promoted the bill for years before it was finally passed by the Virginia legislature . At the time, the Anglican Church was officially recognized as the state religion.

The bill was also strongly supported by religious dissenters (primarily Presbyterians and Baptists) who had suffered under the established church in colonial Virginia and who desired religious freedom and a separation of church and state. Bill No. 82 was finally adopted in 1786.