Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Ultimate Statement by Thomas Jefferson on Race


When I posted the excerpt on race from Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia on Friday, I had been searching fruitlessly on the Internet for the following complete statement. (It's on the Web, but I didn't recall enough of it to find it.) A friend had sent me the statement last year, and I just managed to dig up his e-mail.

The Jefferson Memorial has the following quotation from the third president inscribed on the marble interior: “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people [the Negroes] shall be free.” Jefferson did not end those words with a period, but with a semicolon, after which he wrote: “nor is it less certain that the two races equally free, cannot live under the same government.”[i]

[i]Carleton Putnam, Race and Reason (Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, 1961), p. 62.

This is the sort of thing that all right-thinking people see as obliging them to yet again denounce Jefferson, and all his works and words. (They had already denounced him, based on his ownership of black slaves, and then based on the Sally Hemings Hoax, and his hideous existence as a privileged white European male, etc.) Its effect on me, rather, was to show that he was the most visionary racial thinker I've yet come across.

1 comment:

Dutch Boy said...

Anyone who adocates for others what he will not do himself is open to a charge of hypocisy (at a minimum).