A “Disavowal of White Supremacy”: University of Virginia Newspaper Calls to Drop References to Thomas Jefferson

The Washington Post previously published a column of a George Washington student calling for George Washington University to be renamed. Now, in an August 11 editorial in The Cavalier Daily, the editors of the University of Virginia’s student paper are calling for all references to school founder Thomas Jefferson to stripped from the school. I have previously written about Jefferson’s history with slavery, including the call to remove the Jefferson memorial. Rather than remove memorials or references to Jefferson, this should remain part of a full and complete discussion of his history. Jefferson is indelibly part of the history of the university. Rather than cleanse the university of all references, his great contributions to the country can be placed in an accurate and frank context with his history of slavery.The university was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wrote to artist Charles Willson Peale that he wanted to design a school that would be so grand and inspirational that it could attract talented students from “other states to come, and drink of the cup of knowledge”.  He sought to structure the school along a Humboldtian model for a broad liberal arts education, including a rejection of the religious foundation for most other schools (like his alma mater William & Mary).  He played an active role in the design of buildings and the development of curriculum at the university.  He continued to invite faculty and students to his home for dinners and remained deeply involved in the development of the school to ensure that it would be a world-class educational institution.

The Cavalier Daily editors referenced UVA President Jim Ryan’s recent pronouncement about “the importance of preparing students to be citizen leaders” to demand that he “create a physical environment that reflects [a] commitment to equality and [a] disavowal of white supremacy.” Noting that the Charlottesville’s local Ku Klux Klan Chapter hosted its inauguration ceremony at Jefferson’s Monticello tomb, the editors objected that “there is a reason why they felt comfortable marching through Grounds. Our physical environment — from statues to building names to Jefferson’s overwhelming presence — exalts people who held the same beliefs as the repugnant white supremacists in attendance at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally.”

Accordingly, they declared “these buildings must be renamed and memorials removed.”

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 in tours at Monticello.

We can recognize this legacy without removing references to one of the most important figures in not just American but world history.

 

126 thoughts on “A “Disavowal of White Supremacy”: University of Virginia Newspaper Calls to Drop References to Thomas Jefferson”

  1. These pussies need to grow up. Changing writing of history doesn’t change it. Now go suck your thumbs and change your diapers.

  2. Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry) including color supremacy or affirmative discrimination exploited for leverage in the pursuit of capital and control has diverse precedents in past, present, and progressive times, not the least of which in Africa (e.g. Mandela’s Xhosa vs Zulu, Kenyan elite vs deplorables, Hutu vs Tutsi).

  3. This is simply Marxism 101. Erase the founding people’s history, based upon lies. The fact is that EVERYONE in those days were racist, just as Africans were racist against all others, as well. One might say that some African tribes were racist against their own race, since THEY were the ones rounding up other Africans and selling them off.

    This has nothing to do with justice, but is plainly Communism taking over our once great country, made into this horrific leftist monster.

  4. “Rather than remove memorials or references to Jefferson, this should remain part of a full and complete discussion of his history.”

    Anonymii, now that George Floyd has a memorial and a gold coffin to boot, can we finally have a full and complete discussion of his rap sheet?

    Would you rather we cancel him from the pages of history? Tear down his statues? Please, name your poison.

  5. Jonathan: The University of Virginia is not the only place where there is controversy about Jefferson and the other “Founding Fathers”. In South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem has just come out with her revised proposal for teaching social studies in grades K-12. It’s a blast to the past! Kids are going to get the Walt Disney version of American history. No in depth discussion of slavery, no LGBTQ people in this version–and certainly no discussion of the Jefferson’s proclivity for siring little black babies. Nope. This social studies exploration will be strictly PG. No pictures of MLK on the classroom bulletin board–just the Founding Fathers. Gov. Noem wants to get rid of “political agendas” and “divisive” teachings. No “critical race theory”–although the education commission couldn’t any examples of CRT being taught in SD public schools. Just an emphasis how “religion” played an essential role in the thinking of the Founding Fathers. For example, under the Governor’s proposal 7th graders will learn how the Founders advanced the idea that each person “is endowed with these rights by God that created them, and the existence of human slavery was understood by most, but not all, of the founders to be a contradiction of the principle of human equality”. So, 7th graders will learn the slaveholders who founded the country didn’t much like slavery. Although Jefferson wrote that immortal phrase “all men are created equal” he didn’t include slaves only because the Founders couldn’t find another system that would bring them so much wealth. Under the Governor’s proposal the revised teaching standards will “foster love of country” that will only acknowledge “blind spots”. Under these revised teaching standards slavery was just a “blind spot” on the road to “liberty and justice for all”.

    In other states efforts are also being made to sanitize history–to keep students from being exposed to “divisive” subjects that might make them feel “uncomfortable”. In one Texas school district the “Diary of Anne Frank” is being removed from school libraries. Why? Because the book should not be read without “parental supervision” — students should not feel “uncomfortable” learning how the Nazi’s exterminated 6 million Jews.

    In 2006 Al Gore came out with his film “Inconvenient Truth”–about the dangers to the planet caused by climate change. For four years Donald Trump ignored the science, claiming global warming was a “myth”, a “hoax” perpetuated by left-wing elites. Now we are witnessing the effects of global warming, e.g., a historic drought in Colorado, massive flooding in Kentucky and more intense weather events throughout the country. Inconvenient truths the GOP doesn’t want to address. And in SD Gov. Noem is doing the same thing when it comes to education. She wants students to avoid the “inconvenient truth” about the nation’s history. But kids grow up. They will ask their parents, their teachers and their political leaders: “Why did you lie to us?” A thought that has been on my mind for many years.

    1. Another inconvenient question: How many waterfront estates and mansions does one man need? Obama is up to 4, or is it 5? So much for reducing his carbon footprint.

    2. “In 2006 Al Gore came out with his film “Inconvenient Truth””

      And then Al Gore’s net worth skyrocketed to the hundreds of millions. And he lives in a massive mansion (At least one). Flies in private jets.

      Nice racket, eh?

    3. “Although Jefferson wrote that immortal phrase “all men are created equal” he didn’t include slaves only because the Founders couldn’t find another system that would bring them so much wealth. “

      BS, it was not wealth but survival. Let me quote Jefferson again: “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

      Almost all of us agree slavery was a stain on America, but America paid for that sin in blood and money. Slavery ended, so we should be looking toward the future, not 150 years ago. We will always have some who wish to ignore history, but, in essence, your telescopic view of history is just as blinding.

      1. SM:
        “Almost all of us agree slavery was a stain on America, but America paid for that sin in blood and money.“
        *******************
        Not me. Sorry, but I don’t know what a “stain on America” is. Did certain few people in the past do things that were legal at the time but which we consider bad now? Yes, and it was very few and it was rectified then. How does that equal a stain on America now? Are we responsible for every misdeed of others who lived on the land in past? What about me? My ancestors got here in the 1920s. Am I equally stained by the deed of some folks who lived a century before? And what about the folks who died to end slavery? Do I get credit for them against my stain? Only seems fair.

        The problem with imprecise language is that it leads to poor thinking which, of course, leads to poor arguments and poor actions. The truth is there is no “stain on America.” The country changes over every generation or so and the responsibility for good and bad done lies precisely and exclusively with the perpetrator of each..

        1. Mespo, I understand your view in the historical sense. Nonetheless, it violated a core principle of the Revolution, but if you note, I said we paid for our sin and should look forward.

          I understand historical arguments that separate slavery from sin. Slavery was worldwide existing since ancient times. The spear ending slavery appears to be from the white English-speaking people. However, worldwide slavery was customarily racial. I believe it was an excuse for a Constitutional wrong. There were no white slaves in America when the Civil War began.

          We can debate forever whether or not black slavery existing in America was a sin or not. It doesn’t matter because it ended, paid for in blood and money along with all the human benefits America has provided.

          “Am I equally stained by the deed of some folks who lived a century before?”

          You committed no misdeed. That was a stain from the past. Rectified stains are part of the growing process, not a tool to blame others who did not contribute or exist at the time.

      2. S, Meyer: So you think it is “BS” that Jefferson profited from his slaves–he held on to his slaves only as a matter of “survival”. There is an interesting article in the Smithsonian (Oct. 2012) by the historian Henry Wiencek entitled “The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson”. Here are some of the highlights from the article:
        * Jefferson was not a “benevolent” slaveholder. Flogging of slaves was common–especially in the plantation’s “nailery” that became an important profit center. Slaves that ran away and returned were brutally treated. After tobacco became unprofitable because the land was worn out Jefferson switched to other crops, like wheat, because that crop required fewer slaves that they could be used for the production of nails. He got the idea of switching to other crops from George Washington.
        *Jefferson bragged about deriving a 4% profit from his investment in slaves. He wrote: “I allow nothing from losses by death {of his slaves], but, on the contrary, shall presently take credit four percent per annum, for their increase over and above keeping up their own numbers”.
        *Jefferson did have financial difficulties. In 1796 he had to use his slaves as collateral to get a loan from a Dutch bank to rebuild Monticello. As Wiencek points out: “[Jefferson] pioneered the monetizing of slaves, just as he pioneered the industrialization and diversification of slavery”.
        * Jefferson had an opportunity to free his slaves during his lifetime. Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Pole who fought in the Revolutionary war on the American side, provided in his will $20,000 ( a big amount back then) as a bequest to Jefferson if the latter would free his slaves and provide them with land and farming equipment. Jefferson refused the bequest even though it would help pay off his debts. Unlike Washington, Jefferson held onto his slaves who were then sold off after his death. He didn’t give up his slaves because he profited from them. Your quote from Jefferson simply proves my point.

        There is no much myth and legend surrounding Jefferson it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. In 1941 a children’s book was published: “Thomas Jefferson: Fighter for Freedom and Human Rights”. It was a glowing portrayal of the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence as were many books of the time. This is probably the book, or something similar, that I read in school. It was the myth I carried with me into 960s when more critical books were written about Jefferson’s slave owning past. But even so, many historians tried to portray Jefferson as “benevolent”, who ruled over his slaves with a “lenient hand”, a generous master who even brought slaves into his household. We know some of those were the issue of his sexual relationship with Sally Hemings. The way Jefferson generally ran his plantation was not “benevolent”!

        Myths die hard. But we don’t benefit from clinging to them. We gain freedom when we acknowledge “uncomfortable” historical truths. But some in this chatroom don’t even agree with you that slavery was a “stain”. They apparently think slavery was either a “necessary evil”–or not even an “evil”. That shows we still have a lot of work to do to deal with the legacy of slavery.

        1. RE:”That shows we still have a lot of work to do to deal with the legacy of slavery..” Jefferson’s life was multifaceted and reflected the time in which he lived. To erase any part of it is to erase truth.

        2. “S, Meyer: So you think it is “BS” that Jefferson profited from his slaves–he held on to his slaves only as a matter of “survival”

          Dennis, where did I say that? Saying things that aren’t true is one way you get into trouble.

          You quoted four things. All of them are opinions by one who doesn’t seem to like Jefferson. I am not accepting any of the data he mentions, nor will I say it isn’t true. We both know that many things published in well-regarded places are wrong or poorly defined. Additionally, people say a lot of things, both good and bad. Selective quoting is another way you can get into trouble.

          “Your quote from Jefferson simply proves my point.“

          Which quote? How does it prove your point?

          “There is no (sic so much) much myth and legend surrounding Jefferson it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.”

          Isn’t that true of all historical figures? What is your point?

          “Thomas Jefferson: Fighter for Freedom and Human Rights”. It was a glowing portrayal of the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence”

          You have a gripe with Jefferson. It might be correct or not, but Jefferson fought for freedom and human rights.

          Many credit Jefferson appropriately, as he was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence, but it was a committee effort based on others like John Locke. That should be included in the history of Jefferson and might be more important than some of your pet peeves because it teaches others how freedom evolved. Freedom is the opposite of slavery. Focussing on how well Jefferson treated his slaves is not nearly as important as focussing on freedom.

          ” We gain freedom when we acknowledge “uncomfortable” historical truths”

          Historical truth: Freedom is the opposite of slavery. Knowledge of freedom is more important than petty myth-busting.

          There is always a myth that exists but tearing down historical figures based on less important issues destroys the ability to learn what freedom is and how to prevent being enslaved. When discussing freedom, Jefferson is important, not singular myths. When discussing myths, myths become important, even if not related to the freedom we try to teach.

          “But some in this chatroom don’t even agree with you that slavery was a “stain”. They apparently think slavery was either a “necessary evil”–or not even an “evil”.

          You are putting words in the mouths of others. This too can get you into trouble, as can ignoring historical context (what existed at the time).

          “That shows we still have a lot of work to do to deal with the legacy of slavery.”

          I think you to be wrong. The slavery of blacks ended 150 years ago. We should understand slavery because it still exists today, as do other horrors. Do you learn from history? Today our southern border is porous, and slavery is being imported from the south, whether it be children, women, or others. It still exists in Africa, Asia, the middle east, etc. If you immerse yourself in the study of slavery, you should use your knowledge to teach others to fight slavery wherever it exists. Do you do that?

    4. no discussion of the Jefferson’s proclivity for siring little black babies.

      Exactly how does that affect Jeffersons accomplishments? I fail to see the connection. Name a single person that can stand up to such examination.

  6. they keep cancelling names and people…pretty soon there will be no history of slave owners and the existence of slavey will be questioned…ala the “Holocaust deniers”

  7. I remember being a college student.. there is a feeling of empowerment about changing the world HOWEVER one finally wakes up that you are there to get an education.. changing the world comes much later… when one is tempered in understanding that everything must be put into OCNTEXT.. exactly as Prof. Turley makes clear. These students who have given such arrogant totally OUT Of CONTEXT demands re: UVA and Thomas Jefferson need to find a new university to attend…!!!… There are hundreds of students who would do anything to get into UVA and take their place…Trying to wipe out such sacred History of a Founding Father whose work allows them to live in freedom and attend the school he created is a form of violence which must not be tolerated..

  8. Don’t just cancel Thomas Jefferson. Cancel the U of Va. he founded: demolish the campus and replace it with a gigantic farm of windmills. Will that satisfy the little snowflakes?

  9. OT

    What Real President Donald J. Trump did to Lizze Bore’em, must be done by Congress to Merit “The Master of Corrupt” Garbage, the DOJ and the FBI.

    Nothing will be done by the Deep Deep State Swamp, Democrat-In-Drag from Bakersfield, California, the Eminently Effete RINO, CongressIt Kevin McCarthy.

  10. OT

    DEBT, DEFENSE, INFRASTRUCTURE

    WHY IS THE JUDICIAL BRANCH NOT SUPPORTING THE CONSTITUTION?
    _______________________________________________________________

    The IRA 2022 Bill passed by Congress is irrefutably unconstitutional.

    These people are not dictators, they are not superior and they do not have this power.

    Congress has the Article 1, Section 8, power to tax only for debt, defense and infrastructure, or “…general Welfare” – All Well Proceed.

    General Welfare consists of roads, water, electricity, post office, internet, telecom, waste pick-up, sewer, etc., products and services required by all in the same amounts and at similar frequency and not provided by the private sector.

    Congress has no power to tax for commercial products (i.e. electric cars), Obamacare, aka healthcare for special (not general) interest groups, climate (which is not in man’s sphere of influence, but the solar system and God’s – volcanoes, glaciers etc., cannot be taxed), a nonsense tax on corporations which obtain revenue from citizen-customers who are taxed, or carried interest, aka advisor fees, all of which constitute the double-jeopardy of deceptive double taxation.

    Congress has the power to regulate only money, commerce among the States to preclude bias,and land and naval Forces.

    Congress has no power to set prices of any commercial products or to reduce tax to effect, in any way, sales of commercial products, free enterprise private property and free markets.

    Congress has no power to regulate the pharmaceutical or any other industry.

    The Constitution severely limits and restricts Congress, while it provides near-total, maximal freedom to individuals.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________

    Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

    – Extension of expanded ACA subsidies.

    – Climate and energy provisions.

    – Minimum tax on corporations.

    – Carried interest tax reform.

    – Prescription drug price reforms.

    1. If association with Thomas Jefferson bothers someone so much – chose another school

  11. This whole deal about slavery is nothing but politics, politics generated by people who specialize in “black history,” “African history,” etc. and etc. Look, slavery has been part of every society, civilized and uncivilized, since the dawn of humanity. Black “historians” try to claim it as unique to the American South and if they admit slavery was elsewhere, they claim American slavery was more brutal. In fact, slaves in other societies, including the great dynasties of China, were treated more brutally. In fact, they were branded. American slaves weren’t branded, and neither were they kept in chains – unless they were being punished or had tried to run away. The reality about slavery in America is that without, most American blacks wouldn’t even exist. Another reality is that American slaves were either enslaved Africans or their descendants who had been captured by other Africans and sold into slavery, then were transported to the coast where they were sold again. American blacks need to take the word of the late Cassius Clay/Muhammed Ali who went to the Congo to train for a fight, then after he came to the US remarked that “I’m sure glad my great-great-grandaddy got on that boat” after having been exposed to the realities of Africa.

  12. Wasn’t this supposed to stop with the elimination of the Confederates?

    I need help with this one from our morally superior leftist friends, so please advise.

    antonio

    1. Antonio, right you are.

      The agreement reached at Appomattox, was an understanding that the war was over. There would be no spoils. All Confederates, were to be given full immunity/pardons. There would be no retaliation. people could fully honor their fallen, and their survivors. That is exactly what they did. Memorialized their hero’s in their loss. The North, as victors, declared nothing but healing should be the focus, and mending the nation was the only common goal to strive for.

      But todays leftist, are for some reason, focused on re litigating something that ended 157 years ago. Strange. For a group of people that cant remember what happened last week, they are overly concerned about the Civil War.

    2. Antonio, the Democrats / Confederates continue to set the nation on fire as they struggle to maintain power, just like when the Republicans / Union marched towards Richmond in April 1865 to end the Civil War.

      Upon evacuation of the city, the Confederate government authorized the burning of warehouses and supplies, which resulted in considerable damage to factories and houses in the business district. Before the charred ruins of Richmond had cooled, Lee, with the remnant of his army, surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. The collapse of the Confederacy followed swiftly.

      https://www.nps.gov/rich/learn/historyculture/richmond-story.htm

  13. “IF YOU CAN KEEP IT”

    If you let crazy people vote, you end up with a crazy country.

    Rather than including vote criteria in the Constitution, the Framers relied on the States to restrict the vote individually and appropriately.

    That was their first, their only and their last mistake.

    – Voters must enjoy a level of self-reliance, homogeneity, success and age (i.e. 21), as representatives of their individual families.

    – Inimical abducted laborers should and must have been compassionately repatriated, by law.

    – Populations must be generated and efficaciously advanced, sufficient to defend and grow the nation; that is an all-consuming task.
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “[We gave you] a [restricted-vote] republic, if you can keep it.”

    – Ben Franklin
    ___________

    You couldn’t.

    Corrective action can only be imposed through compulsion.

    The second iteration of the Constitution and Bill of Rights can only be implemented through the very same means of the Founders.

    America was stolen through compulsion by Lincoln; America must be taken back from Lincoln through Lincoln’s own compulsion.

    Leaders must retain their resolve; leaders must lead.

  14. In preparing his UVA students to be “citizen leaders”, President Jim Ryan also needs to have some of them educated and counseled on all the mingled complexities that attend human existence past, present and future. With Jefferson erased from history, the first and greatest commitment made to equality will have been deleted. The Declaration of Independence did not immediately result in the end of slavery, but it did set the course for the inevitability of it. Remove Jefferson and they will have discarded one of the earliest advocates for their equality people of color have had. Remove Jefferson and they will have removed the inspiration his innumerable quotes make available to every living person.

  15. Democrats and anti-racists will help racists and candidates like Trump win more elections if they go too far. Those opposed to slavery have won huge gains – take the win!

    Consider only about 50 mikes to the East of Monticello, in Richmond (former Capital of the Confederacy) a vast number of Civil War statues have already been removed. Seriously going to extremes only benefits Trump like candidates. Stop while we are ahead!

    A better option would be to honor and memorialize Sally Hemings and Jefferson’s African-American offspring. Give them equal recognition. By going to far, it turns off non-racist voters as well.

    1. As much is going on in the world today, this is what really bothers some people. Not taking up for anyone but all this stuff happened over a hundred years ago. No one can change the past. It’s funny how when college kids and elite individuals have to go out and really work and take care of their families, their priorities change. Real life is trying to take care of yourself and your family. Big things on my mind is paying the bills and having a decent life. No sense in always trying to creat division and protesting about what some dead guy did hundreds of years ago.

  16. Looking forward not back , as a young man in the very early 60’s forgoing college and enlisting in the service . Being a young white man from the north heading to the Army base Ft Bragg and to my new unit the 6th Special Forces in North Carolina . The first thing I did was go to a water fountain and get a drink of water when I got off the bus at Fayittville N.C . when a black yeld at me and said “boy can’t you read ” . I was drinking from a fountain that said Negroes only and was the first time I had encountered anything like this since I went to a intergraded school growing up . Got to Ft Bragg and my unit which was maybe 35 % black and from there to Vietnam where color was not a thought but a fellow soldier whom we shared life and struggles . The whole point of my post is we can not judge a country what happen 213 years ago when slavery was all over the world and a normal happening by todays standards . We no longer have white and black water fountains and I saw many very poor blacks uplift themselves in the military and became great leaders all because of our great nation that is the best in the world . Looking foward and not back would be my advice to the young students at UVA .

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