Tag Archives: slavery

Never Be Surprised

Academics say the darnedest things… in the cozy confines of the University system.  Impressionable undergrads eagerly hang on every word and grad students serve as willful accomplices as they look to continued advancement.  Peer review is a veiled threat at best, considering the lock step that seems to permeate academia.  Even when a proven fraud like Ward Churchill is called to account, academic circles are reluctant to police their own because of the lofty standard  “academic freedom.”(The investigation revealed that Churchill had received tenure without a PhD in addition to plagiarism and fraud charges.)

Devaluing the term "genocide" since 1978

Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978

So, say whatever you please, professor… tenure has your back.  History professors proclaim “changing the narrative” as the driving force behind their scholarship.  Everything we’ve learned about America is wrong… so, like a Seinfeld episode of note, the opposite must be true: The founding of America actually had a negative impact on human history, the Founders were greedy imperialists in training, and ALL 15 Presidents before Lincoln owned slaves…. that’s right- ALL of them.

Surely, you jest...

Surely, you jest…

This would come as a shock to John Adams and his son… both from Quincy, Massachusetts.  James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Martin Van Buren would likewise have an argument to such an absurd notion.  Millard Fillmore was only in office two years, but slave owning cannot be included on his resume.  Even Virginian William Henry Harrison had abandoned the practice by the time he entered public life.  Members of the Founding generation hated the institution, yet felt trapped by it- Jefferson described having a wolf by the ears.  As the abolition movement grew, later Presidents sought to defend slave owning rights, but their arguments were swept away in the tide.    But, to listen to many academics today, the Presidency was nothing more than the last line of defense for the slave owning class.  Never be surprised at what nonsense seeps out of our universities… our hard earned dollars make this “academic freedom” possible.


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Weekly History News Roundup

Little noticed Confederate monument now controversial… most in St. Louis unaware of its existence 


WWI MIA rediscovered by amateur historians... Government had lost the man’s records in paperwork.


JFK turns 100… Why he remains one of our most popular leaders


Baltimore mayor contemplates removing monuments… Confederate monuments to Lee and Jackson are considered offensive


Trump marks Memorial Day at ArlingtonPresident offers appropriate remarks to families of veterans


The lost cause

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Tale of Two Digs

The recent announcement by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation of the restoration of Sally Hemings’ “room”… was based on the opinions of several historians and archaeology supposedly completed through a $35 million grant.  The Foundation promises that the newly renovated room will show “Visitors will come up here and understand that there was no place on this mountaintop that slavery wasn’t”    —  A recent visit to Monticello revealed a gutted room and some renovation, but little evidence of actual archaeology.  ** see image below

Hardly scientific

The historical record provides no evidence of this room being used by any person, let alone, Sally Hemings…. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation continues to rely on speculation and a disingenuous brand of conjecture disguised as authoritative narrative.  If major archaeological discoveries were made, why weren’t they included in the media release?  The alleged affair between Jefferson and Hemings is good for business; it sells tickets, books, and research proposals to impressionable philanthropists and  unwitting spectators.  It diminishes the impact of  the Founder who gave this country its creed.


Archaeological science

30 miles to the Northeast at James Madison’s Montpelier…  archaeologists are meticulously plotting search grids and unearthing artifacts.  Since 1999, archaeology has been a centerpiece of understanding Madison’s life at Montpelier.  The excavations are providing insight into the original layout and functionality of the plantation, as well as the daily existence of Madison’s slaves.  The historians and archaeologists are working with the historical and archaeological records to provide visitors a more complete picture of daily life at Montpelier.  Research done at Madison’s home is academically and professionally sound.  There is no predetermined narrative  being propagated for the sake of political correctness or financial gain.


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It was Never the Tariff

Historians, politicians, and neo-secessionists who argue that the Civil War… was caused by the Federal government’s manipulation of tariffs are at best terribly deluded, at worst, they are scurrilous ideologues with a shameful political agenda.

A brief history lesson for Tom DiLorenzo, Governor Greg Abbott, President Donald Trump, the Freedom Caucus, Ron and Rand Paul,  and any other woefully misguided students of history:

  • Article 1, Section 8  of the Federal Constitution- The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States………   Really, this should explain it, but secessionists were never concerned with Constitutional restraint.
  • The first tariff in our history was signed into law by George Washington on July 4, 1789.
  • The Walker Tariff of 1845 slashed duties in place since the Whig’s controlled Congress- A southern coalition pushed for the reduction
  • Tariffs were reduced again in 1852 and 1857.  The 1857 tariff was only 18%- the lowest since the 18th century.
  • The Morrill Tariff of 1861 was not passed until Southerners had already resigned from Congress.  During the secession crisis, Southern Senators had blocked the increase.  When in place, it raised the duty from 18-36%.

The Civil War was caused by slavery-  not tariffs. 

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Brief History Lesson for Our Leader

Donald Trump continues to display a disturbing ignorance of American history…  A recent interview with a friendly reporter on Sirius Radio gave President Trump the opportunity to question the necessity of the Civil War.

Confederates in the attic

“People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Look how far we’ve fallen

Slavery, Mr. President–  The Rebellious states started the war, Lincoln finished it…. It would be no surprise if Trump’s understanding of Civil War history came from an academic huckster like Tom DiLorenzo.   Clearly, Trump is pandering to his ultra-right wing, states rights base.

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The Shepherd Returns

Abraham Lincoln had to sneak through… the city of Baltimore on the road to his inauguration.  His election had stirred a hornet’s nest in that town as violence and secession were proving to be inseparable.  Plots were discovered to kill Lincoln as he passed through the city- so much for the rule of law, republican elections, and the will of the people.  Lincoln would effectively deconstruct the illogical foundation of secession in his inaugural address, the violent streets of Baltimore served as living proof of its absurdity.


A violent, pro-secession mob shed first blood… in the American Civil War.  Massachusetts militiamen were assaulted on the streets of Baltimore while traveling to Washington DC.  Lincoln used the provocation to suspend habeas corpus in Maryland. The city was placed under martial law and the mayor, members of the town council, and eventually one third of the state legislature were arrested.  All involved, at least in part, played a role in inciting the violence.  Lincoln had to enforce ALL the laws, in ALL states- Maryland wanted special treatment, in a sense to be ABOVE the Union.


  In April of 1864 Lincoln returned… to Baltimore with a message.  The city was still hostile, but pacified under Lincoln’s direction.  He reminded the people there that liberty was not a word they owned- it had a bigger, more profound meaning.  He told them, “The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty…”     Self interest and narrow-minded politics influenced the violence in Baltimore- and the Civil War.  Lincoln was the shepherd guiding the country toward the truth.



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Throwing Stones Through Conception Windows

At the center of the Jefferson/Hemings controversy... is the contention that Thomas Jefferson was in residence at Monticello 9 months prior to the births of Sally Hemings’s  four surviving children.  These ‘conception windows’ now serve as one of the three legs of the case for Jefferson’s paternity(along with the inconclusive DNA and inconsistent oral history.)

Behind closed doors?

Behind closed doors?

Fraser Neiman’s 2000 analysis... published in William and Mary Quarterly seemed to be just the type of evidence the paternity advocates wanted, the proverbial smoking gun.  Jefferson was at Monticello when Hemings conceived her children– case closed.  This is just the kind of scholarship that sells books, but at the same time,  assails history.  When it comes to the Jefferson/Hemings controversy, minds were made up before the DNA results, Annette Gordon-Reed’s revisionism, and Neiman’s loosely connected dots…whatever circumstantial evidence produced is now seen as definitive– scholarship be damned.

Be true, keep it real

Be true, keep it real

  • Neiman bases his assumptions solely on recorded birth dates in Jefferson’s Farm Book.  Jefferson was not present for all the births and there is no way of knowing when he recorded the events.
  • The conception windows are established by Neiman counting backward 267 days- a full term pregnancy.  There is no proof Sally Hemings carried all her children to term. It seems unlikely that a woman in the 19th century would have six full term pregnancies.
  • Jefferson was present at Monticello for  long stretches where Hemings did not give birth.  Neiman implies throughout his study that Jefferson’s visits consisted of sexual liaisons. Jefferson was at Monticello for nearly two years before the birth of Harriet Hemings(there were two Harriets)  in January 1795.   There are three year gaps between two of her births- Jefferson’s visits to Monticello did not result in a Hemings pregnancy.
  • Beverly Hemings’s conception date was set prior to July 8, 1797- yet Jefferson doesn’t arrive at Monticello until July 11.  Neiman cleverly fudges the numbers in this case.
  • Hemings’s next birth was not discovered in the Farm Book, but in a letter to Jefferson’s son-in-law, John Wayles Eppes.  Jefferson relates the birth  to “Maria’s maid.”  Maria was not living at Monticello during this time (Spring of 1799.)  Sally Hemings’s residence at Monticello is never firmly established.
  • Harriet Hemings was born in May of 1801, shortly after Jefferson became President.  Evidence suggests he was in the Charlottesville area during the conception window, but also reveals he was rarely at Monticello during the crucial period of August-September 1800.
  • Madison Hemings(one of the original sources in the oral history) was conceived during April of 1804.  Neiman wants us to believe that Jefferson did this during the final days of his daughter Maria’s life(she died April 17) and her funeral–with large number of extended family present.
  • There is evidence Sally Hemings worked outside the Monticello community.  When Martha Jefferson Randolph  informed her father of Harriet Hemings’s death, she wrote the letter from her home at Bellmont.  Jefferson referred to “Polly’s maid” giving birth in 1799.  If Sally was Martha’s maid at this time- they were not living at Monticello.
  • Sally Hemings conceived her last child, Eston, when Jefferson was 64 years old.  Jefferson took up permanent residence at Monticello in 1809- Sally Hemings stopped having children.  She was 35 at that time.  Wouldn’t Jefferson’s presence mean more births?

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