Jefferson hater Paul Finkelman was given… an entire editorial in the New York Times (a bastion of accuracy and original work) to bash the historical reputation of our third President. Finkelman’s work on Jefferson is so vitriolic, Jefferson scholars hardly give it serious consideration. He is another example of a lawyer (Annette Gordon-Reed comes to mind) who hyper focuses on legalities to the detriment of subtleties found in historical context. Finkelman wants to drag Jefferson to the 21st century and put him on trial with our amended Constitution and revised laws.
This latest editorial is more about academic self-preservation…. with the misdirected acclaim piled on anti-Jefferson newcomers Henry Wiencek and Annette Gordon-Reed, Finkelman undoubtedly saw his star fading. He could find no greater outlet to remind pseudo-academics who the greatest Jefferson hater really is….What is being lost is the true Jefferson. Remember his words about ending slavery:
“A good cause is often injured more by ill-‘timed efforts of its friends than by the arguments of its enemies. Persuasion, perseverance, and patience are the best advocates on questions depending on the will of others. The revolution in public opinion which this cause requires, is not to be expected in a day, or perhaps in an age; but time, which outlives all things, will outlive this evil also. My sentiments have been forty years before the public. Had I repeated them forty times, they would only have become the more stale and threadbare. Although I shall not live to see them consummated, they will not die with me; but living or dying, they will ever be in my most fervent prayer.”