I’m reading my fourth book on Thomas Jefferson over, roughly, the last year. And after I finish this one, I’ll likely start on a fifth (a selection of Jefferson’s writings).
I posted a picture on social media of the current one (Most Blessed of the Patriarchs) and friend made this comment:
I find him so annoying, so self-absorbed and extremely petty. How he was able to accomplish anything is amazing with these as his driving traits.
My first instinct was to respond with a defense, of sorts. Acknowledging his many faults, but still defending his role in our history and, ultimately, his role as a generally admirable person.
Here’s where I should mention that the commentator is a black woman.
Which is much of reason why I paused.
Because it’s easy for me to make a nuanced case for his virtues, in spite of his rank hypocrisy on the issue of slavery. But… I’m white. That’s a pretty simple for me to do, isn’t it?
And isn’t it also a fairly obvious reaction by someone whose ancestors were enslaved, were sexually assaulted by slaveholders like Jefferson (and while he may have loved Sally Hemmings, lets be clear that when you own a person, genuine consent is not possible)?
I can’t say, despite my desire to like Jefferson, that she is wrong to effectively state, ‘I have no time for his BS.’