Jefferson and a New Historical Focus

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Revisionists perpetuating the allegation that Thomas Jefferson… fathered all of Sally Hemings’ children now believe history is on their side.  The pressures of political correctness have relegated reasonable discourse on the issue to the fringe.  A scholar who questions the findings of writers like Annette Gordon-Reed, must be prepared to be labeled a racist.  The discipline of history demands that consensus never be granted immunity, regardless of social convention or political correctness.  A fair evaluation of the evidence provides reasonable doubt in the revisionists’ narrative.  Thus far, they show little interest in fielding these questions:

  • Where was Sally ?  Jefferson was at Monticello nine months before the birth of her children (so was the rest of his extended family) but there is almost no evidence showing she was there.  Sally was Patsy’s handmaiden and reasonable historical inference would place them together- including the periods when Patsy did not live at Monticello.
  • Can we really trust the “conception windows?”   There is no way of proving that Sally Hemings carried her children full term.  Birth records from the 19th century make it difficult to see six full term pregnancies for one woman. 
  • Is the oral history truly reliable?  Madison Hemings was the only child to claim Jefferson was his father.  His descendants will not submit to DNA testing.  Eston Hemings descendants have the male Jefferson gene, but have never claimed to be descendants.  Confused yet?
  • Can we stop talking about secret passages?  It is well documented that revisionists have misquoted or ignored critical evidence proving no servants could have entered Jefferson’s bedroom without being seen. 
  • Are we ready to acknowledge the inconsistencies in the DNA testing?  There were 25 Jefferson’s who possessed that Y-chromosome within 100 miles of Monticello.  Randolph Jefferson, Thomas’ brother needs further scrutiny. 
  • Why did Sally stop having children in 1808?   Jefferson took up full-time residence at Monticello in 1809, shouldn’t there be more children?  Jefferson was 64 years old when he allegedly fathered Eston Hemings in 1808. 
  • Can we throw Callender’s reputation back on the ash heap of history, where it belongs?  There is no proof he ever visited Charlottesville, the DNA test proved there was no ‘Tom’ Jefferson conceived in France, and no one can identify a shred of credibility in his reporting. 

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Defending the Liberators

During a contentious meeting of NATO in 1966- French President, Charles De Gaulle threatened to leave the alliance if the United States continued dictating policy; he also proposed removing all US troops from French soil…

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President Lyndon Johnson was in no mood for De Gaulle’s histrionics-  LBJ instructed the translator to pose a most sobering question to the General…

 

“Were the bodies of dead Americans in France to be dug-up and brought home as well?” 

 

De Gaulle sheepishly returned to his seat without responding to Secretary of State Dean Rusk. 

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The Johnson treatment was applied on an international level.

Facts in Five- Memorial Day

Memorial Day by the numbers:

  • The roots of Memorial Day can be traced to Athens and the Funeral Oration of Pericles–  honor those who have fallen, follow their example of citizenship
  • The commemoration was originally made by the Grand Army of the Republic as Decoration Day-  flags were to be placed on all the graves of fallen Union soldiers
  • The first Decoration Day was celebrated by 27 states in 1868
  • By 1890, every state in the Union observed the holiday in some way… it was not a Federal holiday until 1971
  • The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1922. 

Events at Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Day Tribute

Thomas Jefferson Truitt enlisted in… Company D of the 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers on July 24, 1861.  He was a carpenter working near Kellersburg in Armstrong County PA.  His father, Anderson, died suddenly in October of 1860, leaving the family deep in debt and without a steady income.  To make ends meet, the widowed Sarah Caldwell Truitt was forced to sell pieces of the family farm and work odd jobs.  The outbreak of the war in 1861 rallied the young men of Armstrong County to the Finlay Cadets.  It also provided Jefferson and his younger brother David the opportunity to assist their family financially.

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1837-1864

Truitt served with distinction… as the company’s color sergeant.  On July 1, 1862 at the battle of Malvern Hill, he rescued the 62nd PA’s flag from capture by securing it inside his uniform coat.  For his valor, Truitt received a promotion to 2nd Lieutenant.  Marching with the 62nd from  Antietam Creek to Fredericksburg, Manassas to Gettysburg, Truitt survived the fiercest fighting of the war.  With its three-year enlistment set to expire, the 62nd soldiered on through the unprecedented carnage of the Overland campaign in the Summer of 1864.  Jefferson Truitt was killed June 3, 1864 at the Battle of Bethesda Church, Virginia, just one month before he was due to be mustered out of service.

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Last Full Measure

Heroism is more than just… exploits on the battlefield.  Ordinary citizens, like Jefferson Truitt, display heroism by putting their lives on hold to serve their country.  The causes, justifications, and implications are immaterial to the sacrifices made by citizen soldiers.  Calling these people heroes does not make a political statement, nor is it a rallying cry for more conflict.  Wars can be pondered and debated without applying undue scrutiny to the brave men and women who fought them.  Publicly doubting the heroism of fallen soldiers on Memorial Day is not reasonable discourse.  His patriot grave is proof that Jefferson Truitt was a hero.

The Generation of Abolition

Edward Coles was not a peer of Thomas Jefferson, yet misguided historians with a cultural axe to grind cite his actions as proof Thomas Jefferson failed mankind.

Jefferson was 43 years older than Coles, a man from another time and place.

The Virginia society which allowed Coles’s liberal views on slavery was largely crafted by the mind of Jefferson.

Jefferson explained the conundrum:

a good cause is often injured more by ill timed efforts of it’s friends than by the arguments of it’s enemies. persuasion, perseverance, and patience are the best advocates on questions depending on the will of others. the revolution in public opinion which this case requires, is not to be expected in a day, or perhaps in an age. but time, which outlives all things, will outlive this evil also. my sentiments have been 40 years before the public. had I repeated them 40 times, they would only have become the more stale and thread-bare. altho I shall not live to see them consummated, they will not die with me. but living or dying they will ever be in my most fervent prayers. “

Hemings Exhibit and Monticello

Somewhere between conjecture, history, rumor, and slander rests the new Sally Hemings exhibit at Monticello.

Bowing to the expediency of popular opinion and political correctness, the Jefferson foundation has cast off the duties and rigors of debate, context, and scholarly methods.

The exhibit is built around a long debunked interview given by Madison Hemings in 1873. Voluminous studies have scrutinized the self-serving memoir, yet the Jefferson Foundation presents it as fact.

This is in keeping with the current trend of passing conjecture as historical fact. It should be noted that the descendants of Madison Hemings refused to participate in the 1998 DNA study published by Nature magazine.

Such efforts may well likely fan the flames of historical discord at a time when misguided passions are leading us closer to iconoclasm.

What is Political Courage?

Momentum toward impeachment hearings continues to grow in the halls of Congress….

Political critics of the President are targeting House Democrats(including the Speaker) who refuse to publicly call for hearings. 

Pundits, eager for readership, attempt to recall impeachments past as evidence of political courage. –  **only in 1974 and 1868.  1999 was a gross overreach of Congressional power, for some reason. ?

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Historians are getting involved in the debate- citing the historical necessities of the 1974 and 1868 impeachment proceedings.  Opponents were obviously partisan hacks lacking in political courage. Edmund G. Ross is the obvious target from 1868- historian David Greenberg called him a “scoundrel.”

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What did Ross actually think about impeaching the President of the United States?

“Conditions may, and are not unlikely to arise, some day, when the exercise of the power to impeach and remove the President may be quite as essential to the preservation of our political system as it threatened to become in this instance destructive of that system. Should that day ever come, it is to be hoped that the remedy of impeachment, as established by the Constitution, may be as patriotically, as fearlessly, and as unselfishly applied as it was on this occasion rejected”**

 

 

** Ross was ostracized by the radicals in his party and voted out of office two years later.