By Carol Rushton
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is a homosexual and running for president as a Democrat, recently announced that Thomas Jefferson’s name should be removed from all political dinners honoring him and they should be renamed because Jefferson owned slaves.
Buttigieg was doing an interview on conservative Hugh Hewitt’s show when Hewitt asked him about his position concerning renaming Jefferson-Jackson political dinners and events.
Buttigieg responded, “Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do. Over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor . . . Jefferson is more problematic [than Jackson]. There’s a lot, of course, to admire in his thinking and his philosophy, but then again if you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew slavery was wrong” (Cameron Cawthorne, “Buttigieg on Renaming Things Named After Thomas Jefferson: ‘It’s the Right Thing to Do,” Washington Free Beacon, May 17, 2019, https://freebeacon.com/politics/buttigieg-on-renaming-things-named-after-thomas-jefferson-its-the-right-thing-to-do/, accessed May 23, 2019).
Buttigieg’s position in the Democrat Party is not new. For at least the last five years, Democrats have supported the removal, not only of names of Founding Fathers from monuments, streets, and schools but also the removal of statues honoring Americans throughout our history, both good and bad.
Should Jefferson’s name be removed from any or all events and entities bearing his name?
I think it’s important to point out some things about Thomas Jefferson that the vast majority of Americans do not know.
Thomas Jefferson was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1769. His first official act as a legislator was to present a bill allowing slave owners to free their slaves (Allison, Cook, Maxfield, Skousen, The Real Thomas Jefferson, The National Center for Constitutional Studies, 1983, pg. 46). This was seven years before Jefferson would write the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson writes about what happened to his attempt to end slavery in Virginia in his autobiography:
“In 1769 I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, and so continued until it was closed by the Revolution. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected; and indeed during the regal government nothing liberal could expect success.”
The “regal government” Jefferson writes about is the government of England’s King George III. Some Americans had been agitating for years to end slavery in their colonies, most notably Pennsylvania. But England had a vested interest in not allowing its American colonies to end slavery. England’s slave trade was extremely lucrative for the government and many private citizens who benefited from it, including the owners of the slave ships and their crews, and plantation owners who acquired vast fortunes on the backs of slave labor. For instance, according to The Abolition Project website, Great Britain’s sugar plantations in the West Indies, with which they staffed with African slaves, “were Britain’s most valuable colonies. By the end of the eighteenth century, four million pounds came into Britain from its West Indian plantations, compared with one million from the rest of the world” (“British Involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, “ The Abolition Project, http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_45.html, accessed May 23, 2019).
The Abolition Project continues that from “1750 and 1780, about 70% of the government’s total income came from taxes on goods from its colonies. The money made on the Transatlantic Slave Trade triangle was vast and poured into Britain and other European countries involved in slavery, changing their landscapes forever. In Britain, those who had made much of their wealth from the trade built fine mansions, established banks such as the Bank of England and funded new industries.”
It’s important to note that most of the slaves were never transported into England itself – just into its colonies, which included the American colonies. As long as England was involved in profiting from the slave trade, it could never allow any American colony to outlaw slavery.
You may not also know that when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson included charges against King George III for slavery that were deleted before the final draft. In these slavery charges, Jefferson described slavery as a “cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him . . . Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.”
Jefferson also brought the indictment against England for offering black American slaves their freedom if they would join the Tories and fight against the American colonists after they had taken them forcibly from their homes in Africa and sold them into slavery! “And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”
This entire passage was removed because some of the Southern colonies, who were heavily invested in slavery, objected. In order to get the Declaration passed among the delegates, that passage had to be removed.
You might say, “Well, that’s all fine and good. But Jefferson didn’t free his slaves upon his death while George Washington did.”
George Washington died in 1799, Jefferson died in 1826. In between that time, Virginia still allowed slave owners to free their slaves but Virginia changed the laws and made it more expensive to free slaves. Jefferson was what we would describe today as “land rich, cash poor.” He was deeply in debt and could not afford to free his slaves, which giving his strong stance against slavery, I’m sure he very much wanted to do. Jefferson loved books and wine and had expensive tastes, which probably contributed to his huge debt and which we can all debate and discuss in 2019. But it doesn’t change the fact that Jefferson could not financially afford to free his slaves, either in life or death.
The slaves Jefferson acquired throughout his life have also been an issue. Jefferson actually inherited most of his slaves when he was 14 years old upon his father’s death and also through his father-in-law.
At this point, someone will probably raise the old canard of Jefferson having an affair with Sally Hemmings and fathering at least some of her children. David Barton in his book, The Jefferson Lies, refutes this.
In 1998, the American journal Science released the results of a DNA test that supposedly proved conclusively that Thomas Jefferson had indeed fathered the children of one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings. This report was trumpeted around the world and was headline news in the United States for weeks on end.
What was little reported on was the update that came eight weeks later. The researcher who wrote the report quietly renounced it, stating that the DNA test and subsequent research did not prove that Thomas Jefferson fathered any of Sally Hemmings’ children. Hemmings’ had named one of her children Thomas which many throughout history pointed to Jefferson as the father. But the report stated emphatically that the DNA test proved that Thomas Jefferson was not the father of Thomas Woodson (David Barton, The Jefferson Lies, 2012, pg. 8). All the participants had to admit that NO DNA sample from Thomas Jefferson had been used in the test.
In order to do a DNA test of this type, researchers would have needed a sample from a male descendent of Jefferson’s since the Y chromosome never changes throughout generations. Since Thomas Jefferson had no male descendants – his only son died shortly after birth – the researchers had to use a DNA sample from Thomas Jefferson’s uncle. Because the same DNA showed up in the descendants of Eston Woodson, Sally Hemmings’ youngest child, the researches could only determine that someone in the Jefferson family had fathered at least one, or maybe more, of Hemmings’ children.
But since there were twenty-six Jefferson males alive at that period of history and living in that same area of Virginia, which Jefferson could have fathered Hemmings’ children?
The researchers narrowed the field down to ten Jefferson men that could have logically been the father of Hemming’s children. After citing numerous analyses of the data available, Barton leans toward the conclusion of Hebert Barger, a genealogist and Jefferson historian that the most likely candidate is Thomas Jefferson’s brother, Randolph.
The names of several of Hemmings’ children – Harriet, Beverly, and Eston – are the same names of Randolph Jefferson’s children. Randolph was a frequent visitor at Monticello, the visits sometimes lasting long periods of time. One of the slaves at Monticello reported that Randolph Jefferson would often visit the slave quarters and “play the fiddle and dance half the night” with the slaves (David Barton, The Jefferson Lies, 2012, pg. 11). Barton quotes a lengthy report from the researchers that no reports exist of Thomas Jefferson spending any time at all at the slave quarters. Randolph Jefferson was also a widower, and Barton cites a report from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation that Randolph could have conceived some of Hemming’s children between the period from the death of his first wife and subsequent remarriage.
To go into all the details of the evidence Barton and others present is beyond the scope of this article. For those who wish to read the entire account of all the evidence Barton presents clearing Jefferson of any possible sexual relationship with Sally Hemmings, I urge you to read his excellent book, The Jefferson Lies, still available on Amazon.
The last issue is that Jefferson believed in the separation of church and state.
The phrase, “separation of church and state,” was taken from a private letter Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Church after he had become president. The church was concerned that their religious liberty would be violated under a Jefferson administration, and Jefferson wrote the letter to the church to assure them this would not happen.
In fact, when Jefferson was president, he would attend church services held in the Capitol building, either riding his horse or walking, every Sunday he was in Washington, D.C. Even more astounding, Jefferson actually gave the official Senate approval of allowing the Capitol building to be used to hold church services when he was President of the Senate (his being John Adams’ vice president and after Jefferson had already been elected president) (David Barton, “Church in the U.S. Capitol,” Wallbuilders,. https://wallbuilders.com/church-u-s-capitol/, accessed May 24, 2019). Even in 1867, church services were still held in the Capitol building.
If Jefferson truly believed in “the separation of church and state” as it is interpreted by current American courts, judges, and justices, Jefferson would never have allowed church services to be held in any United States federal government building.
Jefferson and his colleague Benjamin Franklin were tasked by the Continental Congress in July 1776 to design a seal for the new country, the United States of America. Jefferson and Franklin recommended a scene from the Bible depicting the Israelites in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt with the pillar of fire that led them by night and the cloud during the day. If Jefferson did not think a secular government should promote any religion, in this case obviously Christianity, then Jefferson would not have approved the idea for the seal.
Barton again lays out the evidence that Jefferson was far from the irreligious deist modern historians have made him out to be. I quote from The Jefferson Lies, page 131:
In 1779 Jefferson became the governor of Virginia and introduced several bills into the state legislature, including:
A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship and Sabbath Breakers
A Bill for Appointing Days of Public Fasting and Thanksgiving
A Bill Annulling Marriages Prohibited by the Levitical Law and Appointing the Mode of Solemnizing Lawful Marriage
A Bill for Saving the Property of the Church Heretofore by Law Established
Jefferson personally penned the language for each proposal, and there was no hint of public secularism in any of them; instead, it was just the opposite. For example, Jefferson’s bill for preserving the Sabbath stipulated:
If any person on Sunday shall himself be found laboring at his own or any other trade or calling . . . except that it be in the ordinary household offices of daily necessity or other work of necessary or charity, he shall forfeit the sum of ten shillings for every such offense.
On page 132, Barton reveals that in 1780 Jefferson “ordered that an official state medal be created with the religious motto ‘Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.’”
The following are just some of the actions Jefferson took as president:
Dedicated federal lands so that missionaries could teach and preach the Gospel to Indians
Directed federal funds for the establishment of a Christian school for Cherokee Indians in Tennessee
Dedicated federal funds for Christian missionaries and a church with the Kaskaskia Indians
- Deleting a clause in the 1797 U.S. treaty with Tripoli that “the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion” (The Jefferson Lies, pg. 135-136).
Can you image what the response would be of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, or any Democrat today if any Republican president did or tried to do even one of things Jefferson did? Apoplectic doesn’t even begin to describe the outrage; the Democrats would explode!
Some of the confusion with Jefferson’s views on Christianity comes from his opinion that no government should coerce its citizens to follow a particular religion or any religion at all. The choice should always be theirs.
I am also including some, and by no means all, quotes by Jefferson on Christianity and religion.
- “Adore God; reverence and cherish your parents; love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than life. Be just; be true; murmur not at the ways of Providence” – A letter in 1824 to newborn Thomas Jefferson Grotjan, named after Jefferson by his parents and named the former president the child’s godfather ((David Barton, “Advice from Thomas Jefferson,” Wallbuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/advice-from-thomas-jefferson-adore-god/, accessed May 26, 2019).
- “[W]e are already about the 7th of the Christian nations in population” – An 1801 letter to U.S. Senator Gouverneur Morris stating that the United States of America is indeed a Christian nation, contradicting President Barack Obama (David Barton, The Jefferson Lies, pg. 135).
- “Sir, no nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man, and I as chief magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example” – Handwritten manuscript by Reverend Ethan Allen, (The Jefferson Monticello Foundation, https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/no-nation-has-ever-yet-existed-or-been-governed-without, accessed May 26, 2019).
- “[T]he power of appointing Days of Public Fasting and Thanksgiving may be exercised by the Governor . . . Every minister of the Gospel shall, on each day so to be appointed, attend and perform Divine service and preach a sermon or discourse suited to the occasion in his church, on pain of forfeiting fifty pounds for every failure, not having a reasonable excuse” (“A Bill for Appointing Days of Public Fasting and Thanksgiving,” The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Boyd, 2:556).
- “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!” (Notes on the State of Virginia, The Jefferson Hour, https://jeffersonhour.com/blog/1249wwtjd, accessed May 26, 2019).
Pete Buttigieg is not worthy to lick the dust off of Thomas Jefferson’s boots.