Jefferson Descendant Calls For Removal Of Jefferson Memorial


We have previously discussed the destruction of statues and the refusal of mobs to allow society as a whole to decide what statues should be removed.  That debate is now occurring though the destruction has continued often with little comment, let alone action from universities or local governments. This includes the Columbus statue in Little Italy in Baltimore which was torn down and thrown into the harbor with no action from the police. In an opinion piece published in The New York Times, Lucian K Truscott IV, has called for the tearing down of the Thomas Jefferson memorial. As a descendant of the former President, his call has attracted considerable attention.  At the same time, leaders like Sen. Tammy Duckworth (R., IL.), a leading candidate to be the vice presidential candidate with former Vice President Joe Biden, has said that she is open to the idea of tearing down the statue to George Washington. There are also recent demands to remove the statues of Abraham Lincoln.

While this debate is welcomed, it is not clear that the full debate will be presented on the pages of the New York Times where editors publicly committed to barring opposing views like those recently of Sen. Tom Cotton.  Others in the media, most recently CNN’s Don Lemon, have rationalized the destruction of these statutes.  Lemon lashed out at American history as based on “propaganda” and dismissed criticism of the mob actions as an example of how “the chickens are coming home to roost.”  As for the statues of opponents to slavery that have been destroyed, Lemon simply said “movements are often messy.”  He further claimed that “nobody is erasing history . . . What people are trying to do is put it in context and these are conversations that we should be having.”

It is not much of a conversation after statues are torn down and thrown into harbors.  Some of us have been engaged in this debate for years. I called for the removal of some statues over two decades ago.  However, I have also opposed the removal of statues to leaders like Washington and Jefferson.  We learn from history not by wiping it away but placing it into context.  Washington and Jefferson are honored not because of their ownership of slaves but despite that terrible wrong.  Indeed, the history of both leaders on slavery is complex, particularly for Jefferson who sought to include the following statement that was deleted by pro-slavery delegates as a condition for voting for independence:

He has waged 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, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.  This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.  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.  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.

Jefferson was a hypocrite on this issue and kept hundreds in bondage.  As we discussed recently, this part of his legacy is not ignored but emphasized in tours at Monticello.

Truscott insists that Monticello “is enough.”  He added: “And that is why his memorial in Washington should be taken down and replaced. Described by the National Park Service as ‘a shrine to freedom,’ it is anything but.”

While I respect Truscott’s view and appreciate his thoughtful column, I cannot disagree more with that premise.  The memorial is a “shrine to freedom” because it celebrates Jefferson’s legacy in such acts as drafting the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. It is not a memorial to his legacy as a slave owner. That legacy should be part of the context in viewing Jefferson but not a reason to tear down this memorial.

Truscott joins others, including a CNN analyst for calling for tearing down the memorials, including the Washington monument.  Often these calls are examples of rage overcoming reason.  Historical legacies tend to be complex and include elements that many of us find deeply offensive or immoral.  We can discuss all of these elements in considering the history, and historical figures, that creates this country.

Washington’s view on slavery has long been debated. He was without question of slavey owner and there are shocking accounts of the mistreatment of slaves under bondage at his estate.  There is no act that erase that immorality.  As I noted in a prior column, some of his friends however saw Washington as regretful over slavery and his failure to break from it.  After the war, Washington continued to discuss ways to convert his plantation from slaves to tenants at the suggestion of his close aide (and outspoken opponent of slavery) Marquis de Lafayette. By 1786, Washington wrote his friend Robert Morris, “I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of [slavery].” In the end, Washington was the only one of nine slaveholding presidents (and the only slaveholding founder) who freed his slaves upon his death. Washington freed as many of his 317 slaves as possible. Some 123 slaves were his to emancipate while neither he nor Martha could free the so-called “Custis Dower slaves” (who remained property of the heirs to the estate of Daniel Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s first husband). He further ordered that all of the elderly or sick slaves would be supported by his estate for the rest of their lives.

CNN Angela Rye stated Rye insists that all of these statues must come down because  “We have to get to the heart of the problem here and the heart is the way many of us were taught American history. American history is not all glorious.” As we discussed earlier, it is not all glorious but it was a glorious experiment with a people committed to self-determination and individual liberties.  The hypocrisy of stating such ideals in a nation with slavery was not lost on some of that generation like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and John Jay.  However, the system that they created allowed for a nation to finally end this disgraceful practice.  Indeed, hundreds of thousands of white and black soldiers would die together ridding the nation of this scourge.  While aspects of our history are not glorious, we have had glorious and redemptive moments of a people struggling with our own failures.  We can learn from that history, but not if we tear it down in a blind rage against our past.


188 thoughts on “Jefferson Descendant Calls For Removal Of Jefferson Memorial”

  1. Mayor Bill Commie Marxist Deblasio has banned gatherings in NYC thru September UNLESS you are a Black Lives Matter protest in which case, he wouldn’t dare suppress YOUR right to PROTEST and gather in crowds in New York! OMG. Hello New Yorkers?? Blacks are being USED by Democrats for this election cycle – AS THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN USED and taken for GRANTED by Racist DEMOCRATS! Open you eyes Black people and listen to Kanye….he’s doing the Truth Telling for All. God help you if you put DEMOCRATS in charge. Just think back to eight years of Barack and Joe….what changed for you? NOTHING.

    Trump has regular folks to the White House. Barack and Joe spent eight years inviting all their celebrity mouthpieces to party with them at the White House….celebrity movie actors, famous musicians, famous TV talk show hosts who could promote Barry’s popularity numbers for him, and of course celebrity Pro Athletes…..these are the foiks Barack Obama invited to the White House over and over during his eight year reign. Oh and race baiter Al Sharpton was regularly invited to the White House. Along with Black Lives Matter organizers.

    But regular folks? Like the man whose son was shot dead in Seatle’s CHAZ? Trump invited him and his family to the White House. Like the parents of slain victims all over the country, President Trump is inviting THESE people to the White House. NOT celebrities. Regular folks are now invited to the White House. That is something Barack Obama did not do. Why not? Because regular folks cannot be his media mouthpieces promoting his popularity and his agenda to their millions of fans.

    Barack Obama didn’t give a hoot about regular Black folks. Except BLM activists and Al Sharpton. And pro Athletes and Hollywood stars and musicians. If that doesn’t tell you how USED and TAKEN FOR GRANTED regular Black folks are by the Democrats like Joe Biden and Barack Obama, then y’all need to LISTEN TO KANYE. Just stop being such fools for once. Democrats do not give a sh*t about you except for your votes — which they NEED to win. Do not let them take your vote for granted another time.

    1. Just think back to eight years of Barack and Joe….what changed for us? NOTHING. Except more of us were on WELFARE than ever before. More of us out of work. Obama called that progress? It’s not. But for Barack and Joe, it was. How sick and backwards is that? Do not give them another shot. They’ve blown it for decades. Trump has delivered in four years. And Trump will deliver again in the next four years. Don’t be stupid by voting for a Democrat racist idiot like Joe Biden. Black Friends don’t let Black friends vote Democrat yet another time. They have never earned YOUR VOTE. Vote for Trump and make the Democrat Party sit up and listen for once. Otherwise? We, as a community, will be taken for a ride yet again. Don’t be that stupid. Democrats count on the stupidity of the American people — especially Black voters. Prove them wrong this time around. Do it. Listen to Kanye. He’s right about Trump. He’s right about the Democrat Party. They take our votes for graned. Don’t give it to them another time. They did not earn it. They do not deserve it. Donald Trump does.

  2. Well this is an inconvenient truth that I guarantee this descendant of Jefferson and all those that want to destroy this nation because it was founded by slaveowners, don’t know. The 1st draft of the Declaration of Independence had this lengthy paragraph in it. But because that Congress voted that they would only declare what they would unanimously agree to, this paragraph was removed. Thanks to Georgia and South Carolina. Anyone wonder why this is not taught in our schools today?

    he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. 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 to restrain this execrable commerce: 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, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

  3. Blacks did this to Blacks in Minneapolis. Response by Democrats Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Gov. Tim Walz?

    Riot-Torn Twin Cities Are Already Forgotten

    ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs are everywhere, but minority businesses bear the brunt of violence.

    The national media might have “moved on” from the riots in Minneapolis, but residents have nowhere to go. Much of the Twin Cities is still in ruins. Boarded-up storefronts still display makeshift notices that read “black owned” or “minority owned” to ward off further destruction. Many locals are reluctant to speak on the record, but some are eager to do so.

    “It’s been agony,” says Mohamed Ali, a native of Somalia. “I respect the public anger, but I think we carried it too far, to burn our city.” At the height of the chaos, rioters set a large fire in front of his apartment, which sits atop several streetside shops. He spray-painted desperate appeals onto plywood affixed to the storefront windows: “Don’t burn please . . . Kids live upstairs.”

    “All these businesses are still boarded, and it’s over a month later,” Mr. Ali said, gesturing in every direction of his Minneapolis neighborhood. ”This was a thriving area,” he said. “Now a lot of minority businesses are burned.”

    Long Her, a Laotian immigrant, has operated a clothing store in St. Paul since 1991. When he surveyed his losses after the riots, he openly wept: 550 suits, 249 pairs of pants, 227 dress shirts and 180 pairs of shoes, as well as his cash register, other electronics and damage to windows and the front door. Many of his most valuable possessions, kept in a heavy-duty safe, were stolen, along with his U.S. citizenship papers.

    A month later, he hasn’t heard anything from the authorities. “They don’t have the law to protect the people,” Mr. Her says. He never had to call the police in nearly 30 years until the riots erupted in late May—and officers still have not come to investigate: “They say no one available.” His store is open, but the door is boarded up and customers are scant: “They call me,” he says, referring to his largely Hmong clientele. “They say, ‘We would come, but we’re afraid.’ ” He’s had to lay off five employees and sleeps in the store every night, on guard against another possible riot.

    Flora Westbrooks owned a hair salon in North Minneapolis for 34 years. It had already been closed for several months due to Covid-19, but Ms. Westbrooks was planning to reopen on June 1. She’d already purchased sanitation supplies and prepared new protocols to comply with state and city regulations. On May 29, an arsonist burned the place down.

    “Sometimes I’m like, OK, I gotta go to work,” Ms. Westbrooks says. “I gotta go do something at the shop. And then I forget—I don’t own anything anymore. Everything’s burned to the ground. I have nothing no more. Everything I worked for.” Through her business, she earned enough money to buy a home, a car and a law-school education for her son: “My salon was everything to me.”

    Ms. Westbrooks’s plight attracted modest media attention in the immediate aftermath of the riots, spurring the creation of a GoFundMe page, but contributions have fallen off. She said she and a group of fellow shellshocked small-business owners met briefly with Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Gov. Tim Walz and other elected officials in a McDonald’s parking lot near the wreckage. But there has been no follow-up. “I haven’t heard anything,” she says. “You know, it’s been a month now.”

    “They never told us what they was gonna do,” Ms. Westbrooks says. “What are you going to do for us? We have no job, we have no income. What are you going to do for us?” She had no insurance.

    Ms. Westbrooks says she assigns at least part of the blame for what happened to negligence by government officials. The Minneapolis Police Department abandoned the neighborhood, she says. And the National Guard, whose deployment Ms. Westbrooks supported, arrived too late.

    Mass-produced “Black Lives Matter” signs dot the yards of countless leafy homes across the area. Ms. Westbrooks’s next-door neighbor, a white woman, displays one in her window. Ms. Westbrooks, who is black, does not.

  4. If we were creating modern day statues, of recent heroes, many Americans would probably revere the privates in the army or the low-ranking Marines or our brave Special Forces troops – not the high ranking brass hanging out at the Officer’s Club.

    During the Civil War, high ranking Generals actually did have the luxury of choice, like Lee. Poor farm-boys, from both the North and South, never owned any slaves and maybe were even opposed to the evil of slavery but were forced to fight. Why are we celebrating Generals in the first place?

    If we were going to celebrate a Southern General, where are the statues of “General James Longstreet”, one of Lee’s top generals? Why was Longstreet excluded until the 1990’s?

    Longstreet, unlike most other generals, didn’t retire but accepted the amnesty deal from Congress. Worldwide, in civil wars, the leaders and others on the the losing side are simply given a show trial and then executed. Following the American Civil War, those that fought on the losing side were allowed to be police officers, mayors, governors, members of Congress or serve in the military like Longstreet in the new unity-government – with one condition. Southerners that fought on the losing side had to pledge supreme loyalty – oath of office – to defend against “domestic enemies to the U.S. Constitution”. That meant also respecting the constitutional rights of African-Americans.

    Longstreet agreed to pledge loyalty to the U.S. Constitution – which included the Bill of Rights and 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. Longstreet in oath and actions then protected African-Americans. Since Longstreet rejected racism, there were no statues of him until the late 20th Century.

    Jim Crow and the civil rights movement is fundamentally about local police chiefs, state legislators and even members of Congress that essentially reneged on the post-civil war oath of office found in federal law under Title 5 US Code 3331 and Article VI. For example: Stop & Frisk has always been illegal under the 4th and 14th Amendments but more importantly DISLOYAL to the post-civil war Oath of Office. It’s unAmerican!

    The Oath of Office was amended after the Civil War, so maybe we could limit statue removal to when “domestic enemies” was added to the oath? That would preserve most statues prior to the Civil War but remove those that didn’t follow the Longstreet loyalty path.

  5. I once visited the unpopular Jefferson memorial down by the reflecting pool.

    Just be patient. Sea level rise already covers the lowest step of the reflecting pool during spring tides. Eventually the Jefferson memorial will drown.

    1. If unpopular, only because you have to walk farther to get to it. Quite beautiful I thought. Particularly poignant and kind of on the way to it from the Mall going a certain way is a monument to area soldiers who died in WWI. Forgotten in more ways than one.

    2. Says the guy whose intellect is 1/100th that of Thomas Jefferson.

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