1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!
START BY JOINING NOW!

Thomas Jefferson, Secession, and States Rights

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by Mike Griffith, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    Messages:
    573
    The record seems clear that Thomas Jefferson believed in the right of secession. In 1803, Jefferson said he did not care if America split into two confederacies:

    Whether we remain in one confederacy, or form into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I believe not very important to the happiness of either part. Those of the western confederacy will be as much our children & descendants as those of the eastern, and I feel myself as much identified with that country, in future time, as with this; and did I now foresee a separation at some future day, yet I should feel the duty & the desire to promote the western interests as zealously as the eastern, doing all the good for both portions of our future family which should fall within my power. (Letter from Jefferson to Dr. Joseph Priestly, January 29, 1804, http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl161.php)​

    He expressed the same view in 1804:

    The future inhabitants of the Atlantic & Missipi States will be our sons. We leave them in distinct but bordering establishments. We think we see their happiness in their union, & we wish it. Events may prove it otherwise; and if they see their interest in separation, why should we take side with our Atlantic rather than our Missipi descendants? It is the elder and the younger son differing. God bless them both, & keep them in union, if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better. (Letter from Jefferson to John C. Breckenridge, August 12, 1803, http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl159.php).​

    Jefferson told James Madison, in 1799, that if the federal government continued on its present course, Kentucky and Virginia should be “determined” to “sever ourselves” from the Union:

    I will in the mean time give you my ideas to reflect on. That the principles already advanced by Virginia & Kentucky are not to be yielded in silence, I presume we all agree. I should propose a declaration or resolution by their legislatures on this plan. 1st. answer the reasonings of such of the states as have ventured into the field of reason, & that of the Committee of Congress. Here they have given us all the advantage we could wish. Take some notice of those states who have either not answered at all, or answered without reasoning. 2. Make a firm protestation against the principle & the precedent; and a reservation of the rights resulting to us from these palpable violations of the constitutional compact by the Federal government, and the approbation or acquiescence of the several co-states; so that we may hereafter do, what we might now rightfully do, whenever repetitions of these and other violations shall make it evident that the federal government, disregarding the limitations of the federal compact, mean to exercise powers over us to which we have never assented. 3. Express in affectionate & conciliatory language our warm attachment to union with our sister-states, and to the instrument & principles by which we are united; that we are willing to sacrifice to this every thing except those rights of self-government the securing of which was the object of that compact; that not at all disposed to make every measure of error or wrong a cause of scission [separation], we are willing to view with indulgence to wait with patience till those passions & delusions shall have passed over which the federal government have artfully & successfully excited to cover its own abuses & to conceal its designs; fully confident that the good sense of the American people and their attachment to those very rights which we are now vindicating will, before it shall be too late, rally with us round the true principles of our federal compact; but determined, were we to be disappointed in this, to sever ourselves from that union we so much value, rather than give up the rights of self government which we have reserved, & in which alone we see liberty, safety & happiness. (Letter from Jefferson to James Madison, August 23, 1799)​

    Although Jefferson added that he wrote these things “hastily,” that does not change the fact that he said that the people of Kentucky and Virginia should be “determined” to leave the Union rather than “give up the rights of self-government.” And, clearly, Jefferson did not think it would be unconstitutional to leave the Union.

    Jefferson repeated his support for secession to William Crawford—17 years later:

    If any state in the union will declare that it prefers separation with the 1st alternative, to a continuance in union without it, I have no hesitation in saying, “Let us separate.” I would rather the states should withdraw, which are for unlimited commerce & war, and confederate with those alone which are for peace & agriculture. I know that every nation in Europe would join in sincere amity with the latter, & hold the former at arm’s length by jealousies, prohibitions, restrictions, vexations & war. (Letter from Jefferson to William Crawford, June 20, 1816)​

    Two things to note here: One, this was in 1816, 17 years after he suggested the possibility of secession to Madison. Two, He’s talking about a scenario where he would not agree with the state’s reasons for wanting to leave and would not want to see the state leave, but would still be willing to let it go anyway.

    Jefferson did not buy President Washington’s arguments in defense of his decision to send militia troops into western Pennsyvlania to put down the “Whiskey Rebellion” in 1794. He regarded Washington’s arguments as “shreds” from Aesop’s fables. He also stated that no civil war should be waged without Congress’s approval:

    And with respect to the transactions against the excise law, it appears to me that you are all swept away in the torrent of governmental opinions, or that we do not know what these transactions have been. We know of none which, according to the definitions of the law, have been anything more than riotous. There was indeed a meeting to consult about a separation. But to consult on a question does not amount to a determination of that question in the affirmative, still less to the acting on such a determination; but we shall see, I suppose, what the court lawyers, & courtly judges, & would-be ambassadors will make of it. The excise law is an infernal one. The first error was to admit it by the Constitution; the 2d., to act on that admission; the 3d & last will be, to make it the instrument of dismembering the Union, & setting us all afloat to choose which part of it we will adhere to. The information of our militia, returned from the Westward, is uniform, that though the people there let them pass quietly, they were objects of their laughter, not of their fear; that 1000 men could have cut off their whole force in a thousand places of the Alleganey; that their detestation of the excise law is universal, and has now associated to it a detestation of the government; & that separation which perhaps was a very distant & problematical event, is now near, & certain, & determined in the mind of every man.

    I expected to have seen some justification of arming one part of the society against another; of declaring a civil war the moment before the meeting of that body which has the sole right of declaring war; of being so patient of the kicks & scoffs of our enemies, & rising at a feather against our friends; of adding a million to the public debt & deriding us with recommendations to pay it if we can &c., &c. But the part of the [president’s] speech which was to be taken as a justification of the armament, reminded me of parson Saunders' demonstration why minus into minus make plus. After a parcel of shreds of stuff from Aesop's fables, and Tom Thumb, he jumps all at once into his Ergo, minus multiplied into minus make plus. Just so the 15,000 men enter after the fables, in the speech. (Letter from Jefferson to James Madison, December 28, 1794, http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl108.php, emphasis added)​

    This is critical because it argues powerfully against the view that Jefferson believed the federal government had the right to coerce a state. He said that George Washington provided no valid justification for “arming one part of the society against another.” He also objected to “declaring a civil war the moment before the meeting of that body which has the sole right of declaring war.”

    Jefferson rejected the nationalist version of the founding of the Union in the Kentucky Resolutions, of which he was the principal author:

    That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress. (Jefferson’s copy of the Kentucky Resolutions, Article 1, October 1798)​

    Jefferson wanted a limited government system where, among other things, the states would retain many rights:

    I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, & to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in the division of powers; and I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the general government, & all those of that government to the Executive branch. I am for a government rigorously frugal & simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers & salaries merely to make partisans, & for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of it's being a public blessing. I am for relying, for internal defence, on our militia solely, till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace, which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy, which, by its own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us, will grind us with public burdens, & sink us under them.

    I am for free commerce with all nations; political connection with none; & little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe; entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of kings to war against the principles of liberty. I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, & against all violations of the constitution to silence by force & not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. (Letter from Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry Philadelphia, Jan. 26, 1799, http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/presidents/thomas-jefferson/letters-of-thomas-jefferson/jefl125.php)
     

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. dlofting

    dlofting First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Messages:
    1,034
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    I'm no expert on Jefferson, Madison, Washington or the Whiskey Rebellion....in fact the lion's share of what I know of them comes from posters and threads on this site. I don't find that unusual as this is a Civil War forum. Obviously the US Constitution was influenced by the three people mentioned and was amended in subsequent years leading up to the Civil War. So in that regard a knowledge of the history of the Constitution helps one in the study of the Civil War. What I know of that history also comes from posters and threads on this site......and I am grateful for it.

    That preamble establishes my credentials to comment on this post, or in this case, the lack of them. I read what Jefferson wrote, as posted, and even in my stated ignorance, I can say that nowhere does he condone unilateral secession, but solely supports the US Constitution and the division of powers proclaimed therein.
     
    jdmnw, chellers and brass napoleon like this.
  4. The Confederate

    The Confederate Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2016
    Messages:
    765
    "When any one state in the American Union refuses obedience to the Confederation by which they have bound themselves, the rest have a natural right to compel them to obedience. Congress would probably exercise long patience before they would recur to force; but if the case ultimately required it, they would use that recurrence. Should this case ever arise, they will probably coerce by a naval force, as being more easy, less dangerous to liberty, and less likely to produce much bloodshed." - Thomas Jefferson, answers to Demeneunier's First Queries, 24 January, 1786.
     
  5. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Messages:
    23,962
    Location:
    Pelham, AL
    This does not support secession.
    It is a speculation that "did I now foresee a separation at some future day"
    then
    "yet I should feel the duty & the desire to promote the western interests as zealously as the eastern, doing all the good for both portions of our future family which should fall within my power. "

    The issue is the Louisiana purchase. There are yet no states formed from the purchase and Jefferson is considering the possibility raised by his opponents that the western settlers may not join US as states, but form their own country as a consequence of the Louisiana, then Jefferson says he will still do the purchase regardless of risk. No mention of States seceding.
    Link to the book where the quote appears.

    from

    Link
    Thomas Jefferson and Philosophy: Essays on the Philosophical Cast of Jefferson's Writings
    edited by M. Andrew Holowchak
    p1.png
    .
    p2.png
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2017
  6. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    Messages:
    573
    As I've pointed out to you before, Jefferson was talking about a scenario involving states that were in the Confederation--i.e., the Articles of Confederation union--and that were refusing to comply with their obligations. This has nothing to do with the federal union, much less with a state that has voted to revoke its ratification. And notice that he said that Congress--not the president, but CONGRESS--would be the one to take action, and only after "long patience." No one can call Lincoln's knee-jerk, extreme reaction to the bloodless attack on Fort Sumter "long patience" and one designed to produce as little bloodshed as possible--it was just the opposite.

    Furthermore, how do you square that quote with Jefferson's condemnation of Washington's response to the Whiskey Rebellion? Here we're not talking about some hypothetical situation but Jefferson's reaction to an actual event.
     
    Rebforever and Andersonh1 like this.
  7. Mike Griffith

    Mike Griffith Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2014
    Messages:
    573
    This argument won't work. Jefferson was talking about U.S. territories, which were indisputably the creation of Congress. Yet, even then, he said that he had no problem with those territories choosing to become states in a confederation outside the federal government. There is no getting around his language. That is the clear, undeniable meaning of his words. And if he had no problem with a territory choosing to become a state outside the Union, how can anyone suppose that he believed it was illegal for a state in the Union to leave the Union?

    You did not deal with any of the other evidence I presented, evidence that clearly shows that Jefferson believed a state had the right to leave the Union. In most cases he hoped things would not come to this, and in some cases he thought it would be a "baneful" event, but he never, ever denied the right of secession.

    It really boils down to this simple, powerful question: Do you believe that the Colonists/Patriots were correct when they argued that the Colonies had a natural right to peacefully separate from England and that England was morally wrong for trying to force the Colonies to remain under British control?

    I can spend dozens of pages presenting quotes from the Patriots about their belief that the Colonies had a natural right to separate from England and that it was outrageous for England to seek to force the Colonies to stay under British rule.

    This is why the founding fathers did not prohibit secession in the Constitution. They hoped it would not happen. They did not want it to happen. But they believed too strongly in the natural right of peaceful separation to make it illegal for a state to leave the Union.
     
    Rebforever and Andersonh1 like this.
  8. jgoodguy

    jgoodguy Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    Messages:
    23,962
    Location:
    Pelham, AL
    Please lets not change the subject when you are shown to be incorrect.
     
  9. MattL

    MattL First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,222
    Calling for troops when a federal fort is attacked is hardly knee-jerk or extreme but simply reasonable.

    Virginia Secession Convention

    http://secession.richmond.edu/docum...21&order=date&direction=ascending&id=pb.3.740
    ----
    CHARLESTON, S. C., April 13th, 1861.

    To Governor Letcher:

    Received your despatch. It is true that Fort Sumter was bombarded all day yesterday, after refusing to evacuate, and four vessels were off the bar with troops and supplies waiting for the tide to come in, and the Fort was in signal with them.

    President Lincoln sent a special messenger, and informed me in writing that supplies would be put in, but asked no reply. Not a man at our batteries was hurt even. The Fort was furious in its fire on us. Our iron battery did great damage to the Fort in the south wall. Our shells fall freely in the Fort; it is not known exactly with what effect, but supposed to be serious, as they are not firing this morning. Our Enfield battery dismounted three of the large Columbiads. We will take the Fort and can keep sixteen ten-inch mortars all the time on it, besides heavy guns which will give no peace, night or day. We can sink the fleet if they attempt to enter the channel. If they land elsewhere we can whip them. I have here, now, nearly seven thousand of the best troops in the world, and a reserve of ten thousand on our railroads. The war is commenced, and we will triumph or perish. This is my answer to you. Please let me know what Virginia will do, as I telegraph to you candidly. F. W. PICKENS.

    ----

    It seems quite clear that two days before Lincoln called for troops the SC Governor knew quite well he had commenced the war, bragging about how well they were assaulting Sumter, how easily they could attack any ships that came to aid and mentioning 17,000 troops (7,000 there and 10,000 reserve).

    Lincoln's reaction was measured and reasonable in response to that.
     
  10. brass napoleon

    brass napoleon Colonel Retired Moderator Member of the Year

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Messages:
    14,989
    Location:
    Ohio
    Great find, Matt! I hadn't seen that one before.
     
    Copperhead-mi, Bee and jgoodguy like this.
  11. The Confederate

    The Confederate Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2016
    Messages:
    765
    1. The Union during the Articles of Confederation was the same Union of today, the only difference was the form of Government.

    2. Sometimes the Union was refered to as "the Confederation" or "the Confederacy" way after the Articles of Confederation.

    3. The Congress already authorized the President to supress rebellions with the Militia Act.

    4. The reaction to the attack on Fort Sumter was not knee-jerk, the South was attacking US forts, arsenals, way before Fort Sumter.

    5. If Jefferson opposed Washington's response to the Whiskey Rebellion, then Jefferson was wrong, and Washington was right.
     
  12. Lincoln65

    Lincoln65 Private

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    Messages:
    140
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    This is the Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it. If they would but dispassionately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than by scission, they would pause before they would perpetrate this act of suicide on themselves, and of treason against the hopes of the world. To yourself, as the faithful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high esteem and respect.” [Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes, April 22, 1820]

    This is the Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “It is true that we are compleatly under the saddle of Massachusets & Connecticut, and that they ride us very hard, cruelly insulting our feelings as well as exhausting our strength and substance. Their natural friends, the three other eastern States, join them from a sort of family pride, and they have the art to divide certain other parts of the Union so as to make use of them to govern the whole. This is not new. It is the old practice of despots to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order, and those who have once got an ascendency and possessed themselves of all the resources of the nation, their revenues and offices, have immense means for retaining their advantages. But our present situation is not a natural one. The body of our countrymen is substantially republican through every part of the Union. It was the irresistable influence & popularity of Gen^1 Washington, played off by the cunning of Hamilton, which turned the government over to anti-republican hands, or turned the republican members, chosen by the people, into anti- republicans. He delivered it over to his successor in this state, and very untoward events, since improved with great artifice, have produced on the public mind the impression we see; but still, repeat it, this is not the natural state. Time alone would bring round an order of things more correspondent to the sentiments of our constituents; but are there not events impending which will do it within a few months? The invasion of England, the public and authentic avowal of sentiments hostile to the leading principles of our Constitution, the prospect of a war in which we shall stand alone, land-tax, stamp-tax, increase of public debt, &c. Be this as it may, in every free & deliberating society there must, from the nature of man, be opposite parties & violent dissensions & discords; and one of these, for the most part, must prevail over the other for a longer or shorter time. Perhaps this party division is necessary to induce each to watch & delate to the people the proceedings of the other. But if on a temporary superiority of the one party, the other is to resort to a scission of the Union, no federal government can ever exist. If to rid ourselves of the present rule of Massachusets & Connecticut we break the Union, will the evil stop there? Suppose the N. England States alone cut off, will our natures be changed? are we not men still to the south of that, & with all the passions of men? Immediately we shall see a Pennsylvania & a Virginia party arise in the residuary confederacy, and the public mind will be distracted with the same party spirit. What a game, too, will the one party have in their hands by eternally threatening the other that unless they do so & so, they will join their Northern neighbors. If we reduce our Union to Virginia & N. Carolina, immediately the conflict will be established between the representatives of these two States, and they will end by breaking into their simple units. Seeing, therefore, that an association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry, seeing that we must have somebody to quarrel with, I had rather keep our New England associates for that purpose than to see our bickerings transferred to others. They are circumscribed within such narrow limits, & their population so full, that their numbers will ever be the minority, and they are marked, like the Jews, with such a peculiarity of character as to constitute from that circumstance the natural division of our parties. A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.” [Jefferson to John Taylor, 1 June 1798]

    This is the Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “After plunging us in all the broils of the European nations, there would remain but one act to close our tragedy, that is, to break up our Union; and even this they have ventured seriously & solemnly to propose & maintain by arguments in a Connecticut paper. I have been happy, however, in believing, from the stifling of this effort, that that dose was found too strong, & excited as much repugnance there as it did horror in other parts of our country, & that whatever follies we may be led into as to foreign nations, we shall never give up our Union, the last anchor of our hope, & that alone which is to prevent this heavenly country from becoming an arena of gladiators. Much as I abhor war, and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind, and anxiously as I wish to keep out of the broils of Europe, I would yet go with my brethren into these, rather than separate from them.” Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 13 May 1797]




    He also wanted Aaron Burr prosecuted for treason for trying to separate the Western territories and forming anew nation.


    All of this was taken from:


    https://studycivilwar.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/a-book-with-no-credibility-chapter-one/
     
    jdmnw, Bee, StephenColbert27 and 3 others like this.
  13. StephenColbert27

    StephenColbert27 First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,145
    Location:
    Middle of a Corn Field, Somewhere in Illinois
    Considering the disdain that I already have for Mr. Jefferson, I find myself hoping that it can be proved that he supported secession.
    This is the same man who minded not at all that the Terror executed tens of thousands of innocent people, calling it the cost of freedom.
    Who said that Shay's Rebellion was no cause for alarm, as the tree of liberty required the blood of patriots from time to time.
    In all honesty, I do not much care for his views on most any subject.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
    jdmnw and O' Be Joyful like this.
  14. JerseyBart

    JerseyBart Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    9,274
    Location:
    New Jersey
    That argument most certainly does work, whether it is liked or not.
     
  15. Carpetbagger

    Carpetbagger Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2015
    Messages:
    556
    Do you have the source for the one on the Terror? I'm not aware that Jefferson ever said something like that.
     
  16. MattL

    MattL First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,222
    To not digress too much, though I felt Tom deserves a bit of a counter view. Though Thomas Jefferson was a very real and very flawed man in many ways he also contributed greatly to our political philosophy and system as can be imagined in the Declaration of Independence. There are many genius bit of ideas and knowledge expressed by him including his active efforts to separate Church and State (and being the origin of that phrase). There are many more contributions of the same nature from him. This does not wash out the multiple bad things he did.
     
    jdmnw and jgoodguy like this.
  17. StephenColbert27

    StephenColbert27 First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,145
    Location:
    Middle of a Corn Field, Somewhere in Illinois
    Source.
    Well said. In truth, I am likely being too dismissive. In my case, the more I have read of the Revolution and its aftermath, the more I am impressed with the likes of Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, Marshall, et cetera. Less so with Jefferson. For him, familiarity has bred contempt.
     
  18. MattL

    MattL First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,222
    I can definitely relate... since discovering he's a first cousin (something like 8 times removed) of mine I've been more curious with him on a personal (I share his grandparents Thomas Jefferson and Mary Branch) level. There are definitely some major flaws and shortcomings. With that said, as we learn more about any individual we discover many of those. Even if some are a bit more palatable than others. In a lot of ways it's made him more interesting to me. Such a man of conflicting sides that must have battled each other constantly. His early legal career hitting on race and servitude, some of his expressions against slavery, and then contrasted with his clear statements about the inferiority of the African Americans and only ever freeing the slave children of his mistress (after she negotiated it from him to come back to Virginia from France vs being freed).

    I guess to me it makes him the most real of the founders. All of them had massive flaws, contradictions, and conflicts and some were very apparent, though Jefferson's seemingly are the most transparent of them (at least based on my relatively limited knowledge and forays into the subject). I suspect they were all equally as flawed as Jefferson, but again less obviously so. With that said Jefferson was a true genius on so many levels, he really had an amazing mind, such as his modified New Testament (with a lot of similarities to the Q document of today). His writings are immensely enlightening to read for the most part. Despite being so far ahead of his times in so many ways he still was a product of his time, place, and immediate culture in many other ways. I try not to hold that too much against him though.
     
    dlofting, Bee, ivanj05 and 2 others like this.
  19. Carpetbagger

    Carpetbagger Sergeant

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2015
    Messages:
    556
    I don't see Jefferson saying he doesn't "mind" those deaths. He actually says he deplores the deaths and he sees the victims as fallen soldiers in the battle for liberty.

    And that is from the William Short letter written in January 1793, the Reign of Terror would not begin until 8 months latter. This has nothing to do with the deaths of "tens of thousands of innocent people." Jefferson is certainly not condoning that slaughter.

    Jefferson's views on revolution and liberty may be hard for some to accept, but and "disdain" for him should be had about what he actually said and the context in which he said it.

    Letter to William Short...
    https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-25-02-0016
     
    jgoodguy likes this.
  20. StephenColbert27

    StephenColbert27 First Sergeant

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Messages:
    1,145
    Location:
    Middle of a Corn Field, Somewhere in Illinois
    I draw attention to the context that Jefferson says he "deplores" the deaths. He says that the deaths of innocents are to be regretted, but no more so than those in battle. The Terror was hardly a military campaign, but a frenzied program that was the direct result of the excesses of the Revolution that targeted anyone it saw as possibly disloyal. Passing the deaths of the innocent off as merely the cost of freedom and not a horrific crime perpetrated by a despotic regime is an extraordinary measure of self-delusion on Jefferson's part.
     
    jdmnw likes this.
  21. uaskme

    uaskme Corporal

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2016
    Messages:
    421
    Jefferson was fighting for White Mens Equality. Many died in Europe for that Cause lost and died. Many died in our Revolution against the Brits.
    However, by the time Jefferson died the Country had wandered from his Vision of what his theory of the Founding was. He didn't believe n large standing Armys. When the English set fire to the White House he altered his opinion. Every President since our Founding has done the same.
     

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Loading...

Share This Page


(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)