“I, am laying the foundation of an University in my native state, which I hope will repay the liberalities of it’s legislature by improving the virtue and science of their country…I have been myself the Architect of the plan of it’s buildings, and of it’s system of instruction. four years have been employed on the former, and I assure you it would be thought a handsome & Classical thing in Italy…I have preferred the plan of an Academical village rather than that of a single, massive structure…So it’s most splendid object, and a constant gratification to my sight. “
Go to community college, kiddies…
No one is comfortable giving President Trump credit for much… but the spoiled, ungrateful cretins who desecrated Jefferson’s likeness on the campus of HIS University are bringing Trump’s somber picture to life. He warned that the removal of statues to Confederate leaders may lead to similar action against our Founders, like Washington and Jefferson.
In the heart of his beloved academical village… Jefferson’s life’s work is naively slandered in name of trendy activism and political correctness. Students taking full of advantage of Jefferson’s foresight, vision, and effort dare to question the man and manner their opportunities were provided. The hubris required to demand the removal of the University’s Founder; as well as, linking him to traitors who fought to destroy the country he helped create- is beyond comprehension. Twenty-somethings so self-centered and lazy as to carry dozens of photographs of themselves(dressed and undressed)- possess a moral superiority over Thomas Jefferson? Irony….
To stop desecrating my memory
The post-millennial generation has doomed us… the Founders predicted our fate if the population became ignorant and forgot its past.
“Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for. For not one of us, no, not one, is perfect. And were we to love none who had imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love.”
― Thomas Jefferson
Kyle Sammin correctly surmises in the current edition of The Federalist… that historical figures are imperfect- the millennial demands of removing every monument and memorial to historical figures who do not satisfy their modern sensibilities is both foolish and destructive. Though many of his comments following the Charlottesville violence were divisive and insensitive, Trump’s fear that removing monuments to Confederate generals may lead to the destruction of memorials to our Founders were not far from reality. Trump’s implication(inadvertent) is that there is a slippery slope with historical revisionism– Click on links
These links are the steady progression of arbitrary historical revision… being driven by a generation of social justice warriors completely lacking any semblance of humility. So-called activists who are convinced they are not only morally superior to their grandparents, but to all previous generations. This is hubris at its most blatant and dangerous. Politicians, like Nancy Pelosi pander to these intellectual pipsqueaks by joining in this fool’s chorus- moral redemption through historic erasure.
As previously stated in the pages of this blog… there are more appropriate places for Confederate symbols and monuments than government buildings and public squares. This is a reasonable debate and it should continue. The slippery slope of historical revisionism is real and we are well on the way down it. Sadly, legitimate leadership is required during such a crisis of conscience. We have Donald Trump…..
Confederates in the attic
For too long defenders of Confederate heritage… have associated it with freedom and individual rights for all whites. The specter of the conquering Yankee invading the homeland to oppress the yeoman and steal his acre was the rallying cry. Policy makers in the Confederacy used this propaganda to dupe poor whites to defend the landed gentry- a social order built on the aristocracy of chattel slavery. Jefferson Davis and ilk had no interest in expanding opportunity for the thousands of men who volunteered for this abhorrent cause- they were cannon fodder.
Talk of opportunity and liberty were contrary to the Confederate cause… the slave owning power structure needed poor whites to stay right where they were. The egalitarian dreams of Thomas Jefferson had no place in the CSA- and the leadership expressed it openly- The Declaration of Independence was a threat to the south. Far from a “second American Revolution,” the American Civil War was an authoritarian power grab by an entrenched group of oligarchs.
Confederate propaganda from Georgia said it best…
“Thanks to Mr. Jefferson we have made a mistake … and pushed the love of democracy too far … vulgar democracy and licentious freedom is rapidly supplanting all the principles of constitutional ‘liberty’! When shall the American people perceive that all our difficulties arise from the absurdities of deciding that the ‘pauper’ and the ‘landholder’ are alike competent to manage the affairs of a Country, or alike entitled to vote for those who shall?” Athens Southern Watchman 1857
Jefferson’s feelings on slavery and liberty also alienated our apostle of liberty… from these slave owning aristocrats…
“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it …The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and moral undepraved by such circumstances [under slavery]. And with what desecration should the statement be loaded, who permitting one half of the citizens to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of one part and the amor patriae of the other.” Notes on the State of Virginia 1782
America seemed to represent the future… yet by the end of the 19th century, we became a people obsessed with our past. A paradox not easily explained, and frankly, not wholly considered either. The recent passing of historian Michael Kammen received little fanfare nationally, but to younger academics everywhere, it represented a melancholy turning point.
Kammen’s epic study, “Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture” … was standard reading for first year grad students across academia in the mid-1990’s. The difficult task of explaining why Americans simplify and revere their past was at the core of Kammen’s research- historians agreed with his thesis, students were primed for future frustration. The Civil War was indeed a transformative event, radically shifting our traditions of remembrance and honor. Prior to the war, argued Kammen, Americans viewed their past with casual indifference- the Civil War democratized our past- the masses wanted a story worthy of the sacrifices made in that most bloody struggle…American mythology began.
The good academic he was… Kammen was troubled by the wave of popular history that emerged in the 20th century. His analysis at times bordered on whining- why don’t ordinary folks pay more attention to academic history? To his credit, he never looked to assign blame- his study maintained an analytical approach- and his conclusions are if nothing else, valid. But, like many writers of his background, he misses the true point of historical remembrance- pride. Trying to explain it away with abstract concepts understood only in academic circles is manipulative. Our story is a complex, yet inspiring one, and the American people truly feel a part of it. The study of history is so compartmentalized that it cannot contemplate this collective remembrance. There is room for all types of historical study- academic, public, and popular history alike…. Kammen’s work proved it to be so… though it may not have been his intention.
We must forgive our enemies
“It is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony…Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.”
“I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”
“Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university. “
Jefferson loved two women in his life… and lost them both. To deal with the pain of loss and rejection, he looked to his mind- his intellect- to cope.
“A single event wiped away all my plans and left me a blank which I had not the spirits to fill up.”
“The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, and to suffice for our own happiness. Those, which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man will count on: for nothing is ours which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures. “
Jefferson struggled with his love for Maria Cosway…. going as far as to illustrate his emotional agony to her in a letter- the letter detailed the tug-of-war between Jefferson’s head and his aching heart. Jefferson was perfectly content to remain within his head, buried in his books and letters. But, as seen in the previous post, Jefferson was a man who cared and loved deeply. Maria Cosway was a special woman, he knew he would never find another like her:
Head: In fine, my friend, you must mend your manners. This is not a world to live at random in as you do. To avoid these eternal distresses, to which you are for ever exposing us, you must learn to look forward before you take a step which may interest our peace. Everything in this world is matter of calculation. Advance then with caution, the balance in your hand. Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, and see which preponderates…The most effectual means of being secure against pain is to retire within ourselves, and to suffice for our own happiness. Those, which depend on ourselves, are the only pleasures a wise man will count on: for nothing is ours which another may deprive us of. Hence the inestimable value of intellectual pleasures.
Heart: This world abounds indeed with misery: to lighten it’s burthen we must divide it with one another. But let us now try the virtues of your mathematical balance, and as you have put into one scale the burthens of friendship, let me put it’s comforts into the other….In a life where we are perpetually exposed to want and accident, yours is a wonderful proposition, to insulate ourselves, to retire from all aid, and to wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-sufficiency! For assuredly nobody will care for him who cares for nobody.