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The Private Jefferson - (Page 8 of Arguably) 
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Post The Private Jefferson - (Page 8 of Arguably)
The Private Jefferson - (Page 8 of Arguably)

Please join us in reading and discussing Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens!

Arguably is a collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens. Each thread in this book discussion forum is named after the title of one of the essays in Arguably. The page number where the essay starts is included in the thread title to make finding it within the book easy.

Read all of the essays in order or jump around and read only the essays that interest you. Please keep your comments in the appropriate threads.



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Post Re: The Private Jefferson - (Page 8 of Arguably)
President Thomas Jefferson, the apostle of liberty, was paradoxical, not just for his belief in revolution and order. For someone whose legacy is so much caught up with the foundation of enduring public institutions of state, his private life might seem of less interest. Hitchens mentions his concubine and his manumitted children from her, his pre-Darwin puzzlement at fossils high on the hill of Monticello, and his indifference to religion in the face of death. It all reads like gossip, and I am not sure what it adds to the myth of the public man.


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Post Re: The Private Jefferson - (Page 8 of Arguably)
I enjoyed reading this piece. It helped to show how incongruent the truth sometimes is with perception, not only concerning the legacy and the man but with the man himself and his regard for his legacy.

Appearances were probably just as important for Jefferson (or more so) than today's politician. Also, like some of today's politicians he probably had a strong sexual appetite (He constantly kept Martha pregnant).

On Sally: How could he, even if she wasn't mixed, say he was diddling the help? Ok, out of all the factors: Mixed, 16 years old, slave - which is socially more inappropriate to diddle? Thank goodness she was at least a she, right? lol.

I couldn't find any pictures of Sally Hemings and that would of really helped me to either condone his behavior or condemn it. If she was hot, I imagine I would have shrugged my shoulders and assumed it was 'a different time back then' and added something to his myth but if she was ugly, I think I would have thought it somewhat unforgivable and harmful to his legacy to take advantage of a young slave.

I think this is another good piece about bringing things back down to earth and a means to help bring perspective to those in awe of myth. It's a pull of the curtain or a glimpse of reality for those accustomed to shadows depending on your inclination for analogical references. The incongruent behavior of Jefferson makes itself apparent in that he considers blacks a race of inferior beings in need of whites to care for them as any other farm animal requires. Although he may think this, he has a thirty some-odd year physical relationship with Sally - a mixed slave. Again, we don't have any pictures of Sally. She could very well have looked like Halle Berry or not. However, his children by her would make them 7/8's European stock and legally that would make them white people (all according to Wiki). My point is that he still kept his children as slaves??? He only released two in his lifetime when they came to be adults.

His first child by her died as an infant. Did he kill it? I don't know. You don't know.

Jefferson's views on slavery were most likely this: He was against it, not because he thought it wrong to enslave a race, but because he saw how bloated the black population was becoming and feared a revolt or their emancipation without deportation. He didn't want blacks in the United States. He wanted them out of the country.

All the strife we have gone through because of slavery including the civil war, the civil rights struggle, and racism, was all PREDICTED. It was clearly written out in Democracy in America by Tocqueville. Jefferson would have probably seen this all coming. Go look up Gabriel Prosser. He knew and knew he had to do something about it. One way? Stop the slave trade. Another? Emancipation followed quickly by forced deportation.

In Jefferson's time nearly 40% of Virginia was enslaved. Revolts were bound to happen. War was bound to happen. The worst part of it was that these weren't as Greek slaves were. They didn't look like their owners. They couldn't freely mix in with the normal population because they were so different in aspect. They had a conspicuous label about their skin which screamed slave. There would therefore be eternal hatred on both sides and "ten thousand recollections". (Mixing wasn't an option)

Jefferson was a racist, believed in freedom, owned slaves, and had an intimate relationship with a half black woman that had 6 of his children. His plan to emancipate and deport every black would have never worked. The only thing he could do was to keep them from coming into the country and he did this by attempting to eliminate the slave trade.

While some men can be hacked in half to discover their center it seems a fine scalpel is needed to dissect and discover Jefferson's agenda. Most of the man's actions seem utterly incompatible with each other.

Jefferson didn't like the idea of slavery (not that of just blacks but of any man). I don't think ultimately that restricting the slave trade was for the sole purpose of keeping blacks out of the United States. I think his need for freedom and the despicable idea of slavery motivated him to end the slave trade.



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