The left is at it again. Elements of the Democrat Party have decided that they no longer wish to be associated with two of most noted Presidents: Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. A number of state organizations have advocated the the Jefferson-Jackson events be renamed.
Their reason is that these two Southerners held slaves. Unfortunately, this was a common practice for Southerner landowners in the first half of the 19th century.
Both men were archetypical Southerners who owned large estates that required a great deal of labor in order to be profitable.
Jefferson was ambivalent about the ‘peculiar institution’. He was a consistent opponent of slavery his whole life. Calling it a “moral depravity” and a “hideous blot,” he believed that slavery presented the greatest threat to the survival of the new American nation.
Jefferson also thought that slavery was contrary to the laws of nature, which decreed that everyone had a right to personal liberty. These views were radical in a world where unfree labor was the norm.
In 1778, he drafted a Virginia law that prohibited the importation of enslaved Africans. In 1784, he proposed an ordinance that would ban slavery in the Northwest territories.
But Jefferson always maintained that the decision to emancipate slaves would have to be part of a democratic process; abolition would be stymied until slaveowners consented to free their human property together in a large-scale act of emancipation.
Jefferson advocated a plan for the gradual emancipation of slaves. First, the transatlantic slave trade would be abolished. Second, slaveowners would “improve” slavery’s most violent features, by ameliorating living conditions and moderating physical punishment. Third, all those born into slavery after a certain date would be declared free, followed by total abolition.
Andrew Jackson owned many slaves on his plantation, The Hermitage, 10 miles east of downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Jackson himself was a substantial planter, owning as many as 150 slaves, and while he insisted that they be treated “humanely,” he showed no disposition to disturb the legal and constitutional arrangements that maintained the slave system.
His administration certainly was hostile to abolitionism and any efforts to disturb the South’s “peculiar institution.” It showed a continuing solicitude for southern opinion and interests, and it embraced the racial tenets of “herrenvolk democracy,” which affirmed the equality of whites and their superiority over non-whites. Yet Jackson’s position on the slavery issue was more complex than this.
Jackson’s denunciation of abolitionism did not signify that he considered slavery a positive or permanent good. Rather, he thought that by maintaining sectional calm, Providence would, in time, somehow eradicate the evil. Indeed, he generally perceived the growing slavery controversy as artificial and political, with both abolitionists and southern extremists seeking to divide the Union to serve their separate ends.
Remember that Thomas Jefferson was the man who wrote one of the most significant documents in American history: the Declaration of Independence. His undying line that “All men are created equal” lives on in the hearts of his countrymen and women.
Yet, the politically correct revisionists in the Democrat Party are choosing to divorce themselves from the third and the seventh Presidents of the United States. We cannot judge 19th century Americans by our 21st century standards. It’s unfair to us and our progeny and it’s unfair to the men and women who lived in a different America.
Who will be the next person to be written out of American history, George Washington?