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"Which side would Thomas Jefferson have been on?" Topic


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06 Jun 2018 12:31 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board
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1,200 hits since 18 Nov 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

As a Virginian all the way, I believe Thomas Jefferson would have been a staunch Confederate.
He would have been an ineffectual governor of Virginia, at the very least, being a thorn in the side of Jefferson Davis. . grin

Discuss.
Let me get my hat…

Dynaman878918 Nov 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

No, I don't think I will

jdpintex18 Nov 2017 8:36 a.m. PST

Yep, I agree.

JimDuncanUK18 Nov 2017 8:49 a.m. PST

Wouldn't he have been dead?

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 9:16 a.m. PST

Thomas Jefferson?

Definitely, but he would have probably tried more diplomacy first, and perhaps come up with a more effective transition period out of slavery that would not be as catastrophic to the South's agrarian economy.

He would have probably started off by saying: "As the oldest living American, and the only remaining Founding Father, I …". :)

Dan

Prince Alberts Revenge18 Nov 2017 9:23 a.m. PST

Not sure there is much to discuss, from what I know of his political philosophies and his feelings towards his state, I imagine he would have been staunchly Secessionist.

N0tt0N Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 9:34 a.m. PST

"and perhaps come up with a more effective transition period out of slavery that would not be as catastrophic to the South's agrarian economy."

I'm pretty sure the country WAS following his transition plan out of slavery. It led to the U.S. Civil War.

Staunch Sessessionist of course. Lincoln's manipulation towards a strong central government would clearly have branded him a Tyrant King by Hamilton's Gollum, Mr. Jefferson.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 9:45 a.m. PST

IMHO, he would have felt forced to join the secessionists due to economics, though morally torn by slavery (or seemingly so). He did a lot of fence straddling in his time, so it is hard to be definitive. He is also quoted as saying something to the effect that each generation has to decide the laws it needs for itself; sort of a new Declaration of Independence every generation. He recognized change and the fact the Founding Fathers could not speak to future needs. (I consider myself a student of history, not an expert,so I may be incorrect in some assumptions regarding Jefferson.)

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 10:56 a.m. PST

I would have advised not attacking Fort Sumter, or embarking on any military hostility.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 11:42 a.m. PST

Thomas Jefferson was a consistent advocate for freeing the slaves and against its continuance in the US. I would think that given his efforts to create a strong Federal government and establish the US and faced with the reasons for the South exceeding, he would have sided with the Union.

Extract from Thomas Jefferson's Drafts of the Virginia Constitution [Before 13 June 1776]

From Jefferson's Second Draft

No person hereafter coming into this country shall be held in slavery under any pretext whatever.

From Jefferson's Third Draft

No person hereafter coming into this country shall be held within the same in slavery under any pretext whatever.

Extract from Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia

Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made … will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.

Extract of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to William A. Burwell Washington Jan. 28. 05.

I have long since given up the expectation of any early provision for getting in the extinguishment of slavery among us. there are many virtuous men who would make any sacrifices to effect it. many equally virtuous who persuade themselves either that the thing is not wrong, or that it cannot be remedied. and very many, with whom interest is morality. the older we grow, the larger we are disposed to believe the last party to be. but interest is really going over to the side of morality. the value of the slave is every day lessening; his burthen on his master dayly increasing. interest is therefore preparing the disposition to be just; and this will be goaded from time to time by the insurrectionary spirit of the slaves. this is easily quelled in it's first efforts; but the from being local it will become general, and whenever it does it will rise more formidable after every defeat, until we shall be forced, after dreadful scenes & sufferings to release them in their own way which, without such sufferings we might now model after our own convenience.

Sargonarhes18 Nov 2017 12:55 p.m. PST

You guys need to be teaching history more than the current crop of history teachers out there.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 1:44 p.m. PST

Jefferson's views on slavery might have been a bit more relevant had he bothered to free his own.

14Bore18 Nov 2017 1:52 p.m. PST

Jefferson I think might have sided with the Republicans

Charlie 12 Inactive Member18 Nov 2017 2:50 p.m. PST

Jefferson's views on slavery might have been a bit more relevant had he bothered to free his own.

May want to check your history…

Jefferson did indeed want to emancipate his slaves and intended on several occasions to do so. Unfortunately, Monticello was never financially stable enough to allow it. While Jefferson was very capable, even brilliant, in many areas, plantation management was not one of them.

Personal logo Scott MacPhee Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 2:58 p.m. PST

Jefferson did not really own his own slaves. They were owned by his father in law's estate, and it was never solvent enough to allow him to free the slaves. He would have had to sell them.

foxweasel18 Nov 2017 5:00 p.m. PST

Had he been alive in 1863 he'd he'd have been 120, I don't think he'd have cared what side of the bed he was on. What a ridiculous way to start a discussion, who's side would Frederick the Great have been on during Desert Storm?

Wulfgar18 Nov 2017 6:22 p.m. PST

I met Thomas Jefferson at Williamsburg several years ago. He seemed a lot more interested in the Oregon country at the time.

A couple of years later I just missed out on dancing with George Washington and some of his friends.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 6:23 p.m. PST

who's side would Frederick the Great have been on during Desert Storm?

Oh, that's simple. Which army was commanded by a general with a German name?

I think asking about who Jefferson would side with is far less ridiculous than asking about Frederick the Great and Desert Storm. More comparable would be asking how Frederick the Great would have felt about the 1806 war against France.

wpilon18 Nov 2017 6:27 p.m. PST

Who cares? A man who can write; "All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…" while living off the sweat beaten out of slaves, is an intellectually dishonest hypocrite.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 6:52 p.m. PST

Wow. Ok, then. Why don't we tear down all the statues of Jefferson then?

And why stop there? Let's tear down all the statues, monuments, etc, of all the Founding Fathers who agreed with Jefferson's despicable document and yet had slaves or did nothing to free them.

Wait. Why stop there? Let's tear down their ultimate abomination … the country and Constitution/laws they created!

Would you be happy then?

Dan
PS. Oh, and while you're at it, why don't we do the same to all the monuments and traditions established by the kings, sheiks and other leaders who were part of the supply side in the slave business (often of their OWN people and neighbors), including those who were in that business centuries before America even became a customer and also long after America abolished the practice?

picture

picture

CorroPredo18 Nov 2017 7:58 p.m. PST

Didn't Winston suggest we dawghouse anyone who started a topic like this, designed to stir up trouble?

Bill N18 Nov 2017 8:01 p.m. PST

The starting point might be whether Jefferson could even exist in the 1850s South. Jeffersonian rhetoric was in vogue in the Antebellum South, but the meaning was not consistent with Jefferson's. When many Southerners said "All men are created equal" they meant "All white males" or in many instances among the slaveholding aristocracy "All white Judeao-Christian propertied males".

There were some in the South who shared Jefferson's more enlightened views. Jefferson was more than a philosopher though. He was also an aristocrat and a community leader with deep ties to the community. When he stuck his neck out, whether in 1776 against the King or in 1798 against the Federalists when he was serving as Vice President, he did so as leader of and with the support of his relatives and community. A Southerner in the 1850s who was standing up for a more enlightened view towards blacks would have been standing up against his community. They would not have had the standing as Jefferson.

Bill N18 Nov 2017 8:03 p.m. PST

Dan-Sometimes I think the Founding Fathers had the right idea. Instead of putting famous people on their coins they chose to use allegorical figures or symbols.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 8:49 p.m. PST

Didn't Winston suggest we dawghouse anyone who started a topic like this, designed to stir up trouble?

I never suggested any such thing.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 8:56 p.m. PST


Jefferson's views on slavery might have been a bit more relevant had he bothered to free his own.

May want to check your history…

Jefferson did indeed want to emancipate his slaves and intended on several occasions to do so. Unfortunately, Monticello was never financially stable enough to allow it.


My history is fine, thank you very much.
You supplied the key. He WANTED TO free his slaves. He was extremely eloquent about how evil slavery was. But he could never get around to actually freeing them.
His ideals never extended far enough to actually put them into practice.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 8:59 p.m. PST

Wait. Why stop there? Let's tear down their ultimate abomination … the country and Constitution/laws they created!

Dan, stop being hysterical and over reacting.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 9:03 p.m. PST

The question is not the degree of hypocrisy in Jefferson.
The question is whether he would have been a secessionist in 1861.
Robert E Lee was allegedly bothered by slavery, but again the knotty problem of economics stayed his hand.
When push came to shove he sided with his state against a "tyrannical" Federal Government.
I believe Jefferson would have done the same.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2017 9:51 p.m. PST

"Dan, stop being hysterical and over reacting."

I'm perfectly calm and rational. It was a form of hyperbole.

Besides, the comment I posted was not addressed to you but to the person ("wpilon") who commented right before me. My post was intended to discourage similar posts, and seems to have worked so far.

My comment to you, however, is that because of the timing of your hypothetical topic you are inviting precisely such detours (like "wpilon's"). Im pretty sure you know full well that an emotional "cultural cleansing" wave is in full swing and how any mention of the Confederacy or any people who might have been slave owners before the Civil War Era could invite such responses..

Dan

goragrad18 Nov 2017 9:54 p.m. PST

Valid topic and I agree with the verdict that Jefferson as with the other Founders was a son of his state first and only then a citizen of the United States.

foxweasel19 Nov 2017 3:34 a.m. PST

The problem with topics like this, isn't that they're not interesting (they are, I know I said ridiculous but that was a bit wrong). It's that there's no right and wrong, they're not based on fact just opinion, some people are far too excitable to have a reasonable debate. It's a bit like that tv show "Zulu warrior vs Praetorian guardsmen or IRA vs KKK" All well and good until people get on their high horse.

Dn Jackson19 Nov 2017 4:13 a.m. PST

"Who cares? A man who can write; "All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights…" while living off the sweat beaten out of slaves, is an intellectually dishonest hypocrite."

And a person who would write this clearly has no idea what society was like 200 years ago.

Jefferson was a fairly liberal guy by the standards of the day. He created the State Department after all. I'm guessing he would oppose secession, but would go with Virginia should she secede.

Bill N19 Nov 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

Jefferson could have freed his slaves. He was heavily in debt, so doing so would probably have meant selling everything he owned to pull it off. Turns out the guy who was willing to put life, fortune and sacred honor at risk for the freedom of America would not voluntarily give those things up to free his slaves. He did not live up to his ideals. There is a difference between being a hypocrite and not living up to your own ideals. At least in my mind.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2017 7:58 a.m. PST

Judging people from the past by today's standards is lunacy. It starts you on a path that leads nowhere good.

Dan
PS. And when people combine that idea with giving unrepentant criminals of today every benefit of the doubt and concession because we tell ourselves that we've never walked in their shoes, our insanity and hypocrisy grow exponentially. It's what Orwell called "doublethink".

wpilon19 Nov 2017 1:12 p.m. PST

Wow. Ok, then. Why don't we tear down all the statues of Jefferson then?

Yes. I find nothing admirable about Thomas Jefferson. I don't really care if he held slaves, many people held slaves. It was his feckless hypocrisy that I object to. He whined about slavery, but wouldn't free his slaves. He authored a brilliant document about the revolution, then after stirring it up, he retired and took no appreciable part in it. He constantly extolled the virtues of independent yeoman farmers but couldn't exercise enough self control to live within his financial means.

He was a despicable individual who happened to write well.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2017 3:52 p.m. PST

Anything else?

What about the document he penned? What about the statues and memorials to all the other Founding Fathers? They also signed. Would that be enough?

Dan
PS. Winston, do you get it now?

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2017 3:59 p.m. PST

Um, Jefferson was governor of VIrginia during the revolution. Tarleton made a raid specifically to capture him -not really retiring.
I rank him relatively low in the founding fathers

Legion 419 Nov 2017 4:36 p.m. PST

Wulfgar


I met Thomas Jefferson at Williamsburg several years ago. He seemed a lot more interested in the Oregon country at the time.

A couple of years later I just missed out on dancing with George Washington and some of his friends.

Well I think the next time you see either one ask them. That should settle the question once and for all …

Wulfgar19 Nov 2017 4:44 p.m. PST

I'll try to do that, Legion 4. Jefferson seemed to be an espeicially funny guy with a sly sense of humor. Wish I could have spent more time with him, but had to go in search of some lost eighth graders. The eighteenth century can be such a confusing place for middle schoolers.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2017 10:49 p.m. PST

As I keep repeating, this thread was not intended to be a discussion on Jefferson's hypocrisy.
The question is whether he would approve of Virginia's secession and would have joined.
The question is not hypothetical. John Tyler was 10th President, succeeding Harrison who famously caught cold at his inauguration and died.
Tyler served on the Virginia Secession Convention and presided over it.

John C Breckinridge served as Vice President of the USA until 1861, after which he commanded the Confederate Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade.

And of course there was Aaron Burr. I still can't figure out what exactly he was up to, but doubtless he was up to no good.

His hypocrisy regarding slavery has been dealt with. But he wasn't all that competent either. Nor was Paul Revere.
Dan's slippery slope hyperbole…. Nobody is calling on tearing up the Declaration of Independence simply because a slave holder said all men were created equal. And if they are, they are ridiculous idiots.
Another Tom also wrote very inspirational prose rallying people to the Cause if the American Revolution. Yet, look up "reprobate" in the dictionary, and you will see Tom Paine looking back at you. grin. Despite "The Crisis" or "Common Sense" I would neither loan Tom Paine money nor let him stay at my house. As Pilate would say, "What he has written, he has written", and let it go at that.

My aunt, a nun, penned a "family tree" which claimed among others a slave holding signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was also the richest man in America at the time.
I don't really believe he is an ancestor, but Charles Carroll's portrait does show the same nose as Sister Philippa and my father. Nice. But I think he would have been Secesh too.
After all, that Tyrant Lincoln wanted to deprive them of their "rats".

goragrad19 Nov 2017 11:02 p.m. PST

As my brother pointed out when I mentioned this to him, Jefferson, Madison, and a number of other Founders would have been appalled at the increase in Federal power under Lincoln at the expense of the states.

That would have led them to favor secession.

Benvartok19 Nov 2017 11:04 p.m. PST

That's 10 minutes painting time wasted.

Legion 420 Nov 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

I'll try to do that, Legion 4.
That should yield some interesting comments ! wink

The eighteenth century can be such a confusing place for middle schoolers.
It would appear for many others as well … evil grin

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2017 10:04 a.m. PST

As my brother pointed out when I mentioned this to him, Jefferson, Madison, and a number of other Founders would have been appalled at the increase in Federal power under Lincoln at the expense of the states.

That would have led them to favor secession.

This is the Jefferson that helped form that Union and as the president of the US, expanded the federal administrative powers to the extent that he basically negotiated and bought the Louisiana territories without Congress's consent. All they could do is ratify a done-deal.

Well Jefferson might have been appalled by Lincoln's wartime powers [Note that he said little negative about Madison's during the 1812 war], but he recognized the problem of slavery, and had publicly sided with those who wanted to see it erased. I doubt very much that he would have been for breaking up the union he had helped create over an issue he was against.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2017 10:32 a.m. PST

Jefferson did indeed want to emancipate his slaves and intended on several occasions to do so. Unfortunately, Monticello was never financially stable enough to allow it. While Jefferson was very capable, even brilliant, in many areas, plantation management was not one of them.

How else would Jefferson been able to afford all that fancy rare wine, elegant clothing, support the largest private library in North America, work on Monticello and entertain lavishly? I am all for freeing the slaves unless it interferes with the life style I am accustomed to.

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Nov 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

Watching this discussion is like watching a never-ending automobile accident in slow motion….

23rdFusilier Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2017 1:11 p.m. PST

If Jefferson would have supported succession depends on his historical record. And his record, in anything depends on when we are talking about.

Throughout his early political career, Thomas Jefferson had always been a strong supporter of states' rights and a major critic of Federalist policies. After being elected President in 1801, he radically altered his earlier philosophy of government. Jefferson's strong opposition to federal power and his firm belief in a "strict construction" of the U.S. Constitution was while Secretary of State and Vice President. However his change of mine about federal authority was exemplified by his exercising power not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution while President speaks volumes.

His opposition to slavery is similar. Prior to the 1790's he did write about the evils of slavery. Afterwards his silence again spoke volumes. His inclusion of slavery into new territory, his legislation that freed slaves leave Virginia within a year of their freedom and his writing that newly born slaves within his estate great a 4% profit great a different impression to his earlier writing. from the time of the declaration of independence to his death he dramatically increased his numbers of slaves.

Albino Squirrel21 Nov 2017 3:00 p.m. PST

Confederate side. The cultural divide that lead to the civil war already existed in his time, and only grew deeper. And we know which side of that he was on. He would have sided with his people.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2017 9:38 p.m. PST

And we know which side of that he was on. He would have sided with his people.

And how do 'we' know that? In 1776, during the AWI as envoy to France, as secretary of state, as president, whenever he had to choose between Virginia and the Federal government in laws, the constitution [He was more federalist than anti-federalist] or policy, he didn't side with Virginia.

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