Skip to comments.School May Shed Association With A U.S. President (Berkeley)
Posted on 06/26/2005 7:34:45 AM PDT by neverdem
If the majority of parents, teachers, and students of Jefferson Elementary School in Berkeley, Calif., has its way, the school will soon shed its name and its association with the nation's third president, who they say is not worthy of being honored because of the hundreds of slaves he owned at his Monticello plantation.
The city's board of education is expected to vote today on a proposal to change the school's name to Sequoia Elementary.
But even with that name, the school district cannot quite dodge the slavery connotations. Some community members have pointed out that under Chief Sequoia's leadership in the early 19th century, the Cherokee nation owned more than 1,500 black slaves.
A spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District, Mark Coplan, acknowledged that Chief Sequoia "presumably owned slaves and was rather barbaric," but he emphasized that the proposed new name would honor the sequoia tree, not the Cherokee leader.
A petition to shed the name Jefferson from the school's title prompted an April vote in which parents, teachers, and students from kindergarten through fifth grade cast ballots to choose a new name. According to Mr. Coplan, Sequoia narrowly beat out the second-place candidate, Ohlone, which would have honored a California tribe. Other names rejected in the April vote would have paid tribute to the abolitionist Sojourner Truth, black diplomat Ralph Bunche, Mexican-American labor leader Cesar Chavez, and Berkeley's late rent-board commissioner, Florence McDonald.
In a second vote last month, the school community voted 239-177 to change the school's name to Sequoia, with students overwhelmingly supporting the proposal, while parents' votes were almost evenly split.
The issue now goes to the Berkeley school board.
At a June 8 meeting, two of the board's five members said they are leaning in favor of the name change, while two members...
(Excerpt) Read more at nysun.com ...
They could always change the name to the Bill Clinton Elementary School....and be associated with an adulterer and all-around sleazeball.
The PC Police strike again. :)
Why not ditch Jefferson completely? This is coming from the same area that ruled the Declaration of Independence was unconstitutional and barred from school curriculum.
I wouldn't mind seeing Bezerkeley shed its association with US Presidents - specificially the ones that it manages to get from my wallet!
I thought that the school was named for that famous American.... George Jefferson, husband of Wheezie and neighbor to Archie Bunker
all kidding aside, I refuse to donate to my old college since they jumped onthe PC bandwagon and the name"Braves"
Since when is being a "Brave" a bad thing ??
No great loss.
The Joseph Stalin Polytech Institute Of Elementary Education
Like Sequoia, the name would be associated with an abundance of aging wood.
The Berzerkley Marxist-Leninist school board may want to consider the name, Saddam Hussein High School. He didn't own slaves, hates America and only murdered people who got in the way of his socialist Baath Party.
Hot off the press! The school has also decided to shed any association with education!
What a bunch of stupid people. Yes Jefferson owned slaves. That's what life was like back then. He also freed most of his his slaves, except Sally Hemmings (I guess he did want to let her go).
LOL Only in Kalifornicia!
And I have the same words for those who want to change the history of Robert E. Lee. Lee did A LOT to try to heal the wounds of the Civil War after he was broke and pennyless. And he freed his slaves BEFORE the war started. Black people need to learn and appreciate REAL history, not mythology, so we don't fall into the same trap as before.
"calling anyone else racist for calling an indian... barbaric"
Yeah, those indians were equal opportunity slavers. Black, white, chicano, or any other indian tribe made ok slaves.
Around where I live, a lot of buildings, roadways and schools were changed to King or Martin Luther King this or that after King's assassination in 1968. This included a few items that were originally named after Presidents.
Ok, so King was a great leader for his people, but he too had his flaws. It was alleged that the guy had more than a few mistresses.
So...why would one want to change the name of a building or whatever from one character-flawed hero to another?
Sorry, if you name it "Sequoia" the illegal immigrants will protest because they don't have sequoias growing in their homeland. Maybe Tumbleweed would be a good name. Maybe they need to stop using the term school because that word is too restrictive and implies regimentation. They could call it the "Tumbleweed Gathering Place for All Peoples Where All Politcal Points of View Will be Disseminated (Except Those Which Espose the Values of the Founders of the United States)and Wherea Few Tidbits of True Facts Will be Broadcast, for Those Who Wish to Learn, Along with Loving Thoughts of Worldwide Brotherhood and Repetitive Subliminal Messaging to Ensure That Attendees Will Become Socialists".
to match the students' overall attention span, intelligence and obesity?
"How about Porky Pig elementary"
No there were no black people in Porky Pig cartoons.
How about Fat Albert elementary.
Liberals have been doing just that for decades.
But there is lots of pork!
Bacon, ribs,chops,roasts........yum.......time to light the barbeque pit.
Yes I believe it will be a barbeque kind of day.
...to match the students' overall attention span, intelligence and obesity?
Porky was probably smarter than some of the kids.
On another thread I gave an update. The Board said no to the change. I had called both the Board of Education and UC Berkeley to stick it to them by demanding that they change the name Berkeley because he was a slave owner.
Porky was probably more articulate as well.
And enunciated better too........
So that leaves as a possibility...the Lenin School?
I read your post of the article. Too bad that people don't check before they post something that has been hashed over FR days before.
Yes, name the school after a tree, that will help encourage the 'goddess' and earth worship. When I first read this story, I heard it was a school dropping a 'confederate' era name. I never imagined it was Jefferson. What must the Jefferson Dems be thinking?
At least, Porky didn't speak in Ebonics. :)
"Too bad that people don't check before they post something that has been hashed over FR days before."
Too bad people finding such previous "hashing" don't provide a link to that which they are referring. ;-)
Thanks for the update.
WOW!!!! THAT WILL CERTAINLY BE A BIG BLOW FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN THIS COUNTRY!!!!!! WHY IT MIGHT EVEN MEAN THE NAALCP CAN CLOSE DOWN BECAUSE ITS WORK IS DONE!!!!!
They don't care one whit for blacks or the slavery of 200 years ago.
They want to change America into another country entirely, and that's it.
They aren't worthy to shine President Jefferson's shoes.
The man that Berkeley was named for has a similiar problem.
OOPs wrong thread, I tried to post this to another thread.
I 'm just confused, ignore my last post
Thank you for the link and quotes. BTW, is there a way to convert that pdf file to HTML so you can print it on the screen?
I 'm just confused, ignore my last post.
It's Sunday. You're allowed to be confused on Sunday. :)
* * * * * * * * * *
I am sustained by Mr. Jefferson.
Springfield, Illinois, July 17, 1858
Thomas Jeffersons reputation has taken a terrible beating over the last few years. The other Founding Fathers Adams, Hamilton, Madison, Washington all have their modern-day champions; Jeffersons champions, though, are in retreat, no longer able to evade or sweep aside the central, terrible contradiction at the core of his life: that the author of the noblest phrases ever penned in the English language about equality, and liberty, and self-governance, held other human beings in bondage. The apparent confirmation of long-standing rumors regarding his relationship with Sally Hemings has cast a harsh light; no longer can we think of Jefferson as merely a participant in the institution of slavery, in some abstract and disembodied sense; he was, we now see, and not to put too fine a point on it, engaged in sexual relations with a chattel slave, a woman a girl, really whom he owned.
There are ironies galore in all this of course that Jefferson, who believed as fervently as anyone that the truth can set you free, and that science is an engine for human progress, has finally been hoist on his own petard, consigned to the purgatory of fallen saints by an analysis of genetic markers on the Y-chromosome. Or that the Founding Father who could, in the words of a nineteenth-century biographer, calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a case, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin is now reduced to a single dimension, his achievements as Astronomer-Agronomist-Architect-Biologist-Meteorologist-Paleontologist- Anthropologist-Cartographer-Linguist-Politician lost in the glare of his life as a Slave-Owner a Slave-Defiler.
But it would be worse than ironic, it would be deeply unfortunate, if we use these revelations to drive the final nail in the Jeffersonian coffin, if we take this as an opportunity to turn our collective back on Jefferson, Jeffersonian ideals, and the Jeffersonian vision. He still has much to teach us. It is something of a cliche to suggest that each generation has to come to terms with Jeffersons Contradiction, but it is nonetheless true, for liberty and slavery are the twin poles of the American experience, and Jefferson embodies them both, in extremis. Now that the darkest corner of Jeffersons life has been thrown open to public view, we can look at the entirety of that life, and we can see perhaps more clearly than before the final irony that Thomas Jefferson did more to end slavery in the United States than anyone else in American history with the single exception of Abraham Lincoln (who, not coincidentally, took Jefferson as his guiding light).
We need to learn as Lincoln, and others in the generations before us, learned how to love Jeffersonian ideals and the Jeffersonian vision (and, perhaps, even Jefferson himself) and to hate slavery. We need to understand the words and the ideas that helped to create a world in which the very notion that one person can own another is almost universally viewed as beyond the pale of civilized human behavior. It is, with the cold genetic data staring us in the face, both more difficult, and more important, that we do so.
Our ongoing conversation with Jefferson is not, I hope, over; our vision of who we are, and what we can become, becomes smaller and somehow less luxuriant if we declare it to be so.
HYPOCRISY, n. The practice of professing beliefs that one does not hold. Jefferson was no hypocrite when it came to the slavery question even his most fervent detractors have to admit as much. He loathed slavery this great political and moral evil, he called it in the only book he publishedin his lifetime, Notes on Virginia. His public and private writings throughout his life make it clear that he held the
institution of slavery to be an abomination, its practice immoral and fundamentally inconsistent with his ideas about the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of 1 Postd@erols.com. Thanks to Pam Schacherer and Samantha Schmidt for their assistance with some of the research for this article.
happiness. No passages in his incredibly voluminous papers are, historian C. Vann Woodward wrote, more moving or more poignant than those denouncing slavery.
What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible, machine is man, he wrote for the entry for The United States to be included in Diderots great Encycolpedie in the mid 1780s, who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment and death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment be deaf to all those motives whose power supported him through his trial, and inflict on his fellow-men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.
Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate, he wrote, than that these people are to be free. (Autobiography). The commerce between master and slave, he wrote in Notes on Virginia is a perpetual exercise of the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. . . . The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst of passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances.
It was the most vile form of injustice, and he knew it; from Notes on Virginia again:
[W]ith what execration should the statesman be loaded, who, permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, . . . can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.
Fine. Nice sentiments, all; maybe his heart was in the right place. But actions, as the saying goes, speak louder than words; did he try to do anything about slavery? in 1769, while a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Jefferson helped to draft a bill to allow for manumission by deed a procedure whereby slave-owners could transfer, by deed, their property interest in slaves back to the slaves themselves, setting them free. The bill eventually passed in 1782, and Jefferson by then the Governor of the new state signed it into law that year; as a fledgling practicing lawyer, in 1770, in his argument in the obscure case of Howell v. Netherland, which involved the freedom or enslavement of a third-generation mulatto, Jefferson had pled that we are all born free and that slavery was contrary to natural law an argument the court dismissed out of hand.
Jefferson prepared not one but two drafts of a Constitution for the State of Virginia, one in 1776, one in 1783. The earlier draft would have prohibited the importation of slaves into the State: No person hereafter coming into this county shall be held within the same in slavery under any pretext whatever. The 1783 draft went further: The General assembly shall not have to power to ... permit the introduction of any more slaves to reside in this state, or the continuance of slavery beyond the generation which shall be living on the 31st day of December 1800; all persons born after that day being hereby declared free.
As a member of the federal Congress in 1783-84, Jefferson drafted and submitted to that body a Report on the Government of the Western Territories, which Congress enacted into law as the Ordinance of 1784. It provided that after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty in any part of the United States outside of the original 13 colonies. The slavery prohibition was deleted by Congress from the final bill by a single vote. (Under the Articles of Confederation, which were then in effect, laws could be enacted only if supported by the delegations of seven States. Six States (Penn., NY, Conn., R.I., Mass., Maine) supported Jeffersons slavery prohibition; three (Virginia [Jefferson himself dissenting], MD, and SC) opposed it; NC was divided.
New Jersey would have supported the prohibition but its delegate, James Beatty, was ill and did not attend the session. Jefferson wrote later in his Autobiography:
Seven votes being requisite to decide the proposition affirmatively, it was lost. The voice of a single individual of the State which was divided [New Jersey] . . . would have prevented this abominable crime from spreading itself over the new country.
Thus we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment! But it is to be hoped it will not always be silent, and that the friends to the rights of human nature will in the end prevail.
Notes on Virginia was to be the only book Jefferson published in his lifetime, and an extraordinary book it was. Written in 1781, while Jefferson was completing his term as Governor of Virginia, in response to a series of questions about the newly-independent American States posed by Francois Marbois, secretary to the French Ambassador to the U.S., it was one of the most influential books of its time, the first comprehensive account of the conditions of life biological, geological, meteorological, social, and political in the new country. It covered everything from the navigability of each of Virginias rivers, the names of each the 101 bird species then known to inhabit the State, seasonal changes in wind and rainfall patterns across the State, and the location of all known deposits of valuable minerals, to a complete catalogue of the laws of Virginia and the history of its settlement.
Its passages on slavery (quoted in part above) worth more, John Adams wrote, than diamonds [and] will have more effect than volumes written by mere philosophers ensured that it would receive a chilly reception among the Virginia establishment. Jefferson did more than merely state his opposition to slavery, which was already well-known at the time; he suggested that the country was already moving, inexorably, driven and guided by the Almighty Himself, towards emancipation. I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: [I]t is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will force their way into every one's mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.
Notwithstanding the time and effort that Jefferson devoted to preparation of this volume, and the extraordinary value of such a compendium of information about the New World for scholars, travelers, and statesmen, Jefferson initially rejected appeals to have it published. There are sentiments on some subjects which I apprehend might be displeasing to the country [and] perhaps to the assembly or to some who lead it, he wrote to James Madison; I fear that the terms in which I speak of slavery [and of our constitution] may produce an irritation which will revolt the minds of our countrymen against reformation, [and] indispose the people towards the [two ] great object[s] I have in view that is, the emancipation of their slaves and thus do more harm than good. Only when he was reassured by his two most trusted Virginia confidantes Madison and James Monroe that it would not have that unfortunate effect did he agree to a small private printing; believing that both its political and physical parts might set our young students into a useful train of thought, he subsequently distributed one copy to every young man at [William and Mary College], for it is to them I look, to the rising generation, and not to the one now in power, for these great reformations.
When the federal Constitution was adopted in 1791, it contained a provision that prohibited the federal Congress from interfering with the slave trade until the year 1808: The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight . . . In 1806, in his annual message to Congress, Jefferson wrote:
I congratulate you, fellow-citizens, on the approach of the period at which you may interpose your authority constitutionally, to withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights which have been so long continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa, and which the morality, the reputation, and the best interests of our country, have long been eager to proscribe. Although no law you may pass can take prohibitory effect till the first day of the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, yet the intervening period is not too long to prevent, by timely notice, expeditions which cannot be completed before that day.
Jefferson introduced, Congress passed, and Jefferson signed, a bill prohibiting any further importation of slaves as of the earliest date the Constitution permitted: January 1, 1808. And then, of course, there was the Declaration of Independence itself: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain [inherent and] inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ...
It is tempting too tempting to dismiss, from our more enlightened perspective of the 21st century, the radical import of these words in their time (and, for that matter, in ours); indeed, it has almost become a badge of intellectual honor these days to do so. Jeffersons most celebrated achievement is, to many of his detractors, the cornerstone of the indictment against him; how in the world can word and deed Philadelphias self-evident truth that all men are created equal and Virginias slave state (not to mention Sally Hemings) be reconciled? It was all, it appears, a sham; they were all, Jefferson foremost among them, living a lie.
Precisely it was a lie, a betrayal of the most sacred principles on which the new republic was being founded. The Declaration declares it to be so shouts it, as it were, from the rooftops. That is precisely why the words deserve celebration, not scorn. The document states the moral proposition in unambiguous terms: in a republic truly founded upon sacred and undeniable principles, upon the laws of Nature and of Natures God, human slavery could not stand.
There could be no misunderstanding on that point; Jefferson makes it clear by including the following paragraph later in the document, on the list of King George IIIs abuses and usurpations through which he had attempted to impose absolute Despotism upon the Colonies:
He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative [i.e., his veto powers over Colonial legislation], suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.2
This passage, like the anti-slavery provisions in Jeffersons draft of the Ordinance of 1784, was deleted by Congress before final approval of the Declaration. But Jefferson 2 The capitalization (MEN, CHRISTIAN) and underlining in this passage are Jeffersons, from his rough draft. took enormous pains later in life to preserve it, to make sure that history knew that it in his Declaration of Independence, slavery was deemed cruel war against human nature itself, that the men declared equal in the Preamble included those who bought and sold, that this execrable commerce in human souls violated the most sacred rights of life and liberty.
Not to mention the pursuit of happiness. Jeffersons use of this phrase in the list of natural rights life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness has long been something of a puzzle. On the one hand, the prevailing view of the Declaration of Independence is, as Pauline Maier writes in her exhaustive history of the document, that it merely summarized succinctly ideas defended and explained at greater length by a long list of seventeenth-century writers, that the ideas it expressed were absolutely conventional among Americans of [Jeffersons] time. Jefferson himself admitted as much; that, he said, was the point. John Adams had written, using language more colorful than, but in substance identical to, Prof. Maiers, that there is not an idea in [the Declaration] but what had been hackneyed in Congress for two years before, that the substance of it was already contained in the Declaration of Rights [enacted by] Congress in 1774, two years before Jefferson set to work. To which Jefferson responded: That may all be true.
I did not consider it as any part of my charge to invent new ideas altogether, [or] to offer no sentiment which had ever been expressed before. . . . [T]he object of the Declaration of Independence [was] not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, [or] to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. [Not] aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, . . . it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day . . .
But at the same time, at the critical juncture in this conventional document, Jefferson takes a turn to the decidedly, and fundamentally, unconventional. Life, liberty, and property was the conventional formulation; the revolutionary generations favorite political philosopher, John Locke, had established that familiar trilogy almost a century before, and Congress, in the 1774 Declaration of Rights to which Adams refers in the quotation above, had, conventionally, followed the Lockean outline:
The inhabitants of the English colonies in North-America, by the immutable laws of nature . . . have the following RIGHTS: That they are entitled to life, liberty, and property . . .
That, too, is how George Masons enormously influential Virginia Declaration of Rights of the same year (1774) another document with which Jefferson, and the other delegates in Philadelphia, were intimately familiar put it: All men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, . . . namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property . . .
That formulation was, for obvious reasons, of considerable comfort to the slaveowning class, for it put their ownership of slaves their property interest on equal rank, in the natural order of things, with the life and liberty of those over whom that ownership was exercised.
But with the stroke of the pen, Jefferson took that away. Whatever comfort one might have taken in the notion that owning other human beings was in the natural order of things a widespread view in the eighteenth century that notion was not to be found in the Declaration of Independence.
Make no mistake about it Jefferson surely could have done more, in his public life, for the anti-slavery cause than he did. He missed or perhaps it would be more accurate to say he refused to take many opportunities to press the fight. When, in the early 1780s, he served on the Committee preparing a comprehensive revision and restatement of all of Virginias laws, for example, he put forth radical new proposals for the laws concerning primogeniture, and religious freedom, and the death penalty, and public education; on slavery, though, he contented himself, as he wrote late in life, with a mere digest of the existing laws. Not only did he leave aside any intimation of a plan for a future and general emancipation, he all-too-scrupulously included many of the harshest and most inhumane features of the colonial slave code, provisions which even the Virginia legislature, when the time came to vote on Jeffersons bill, found too harsh.
3 And in his role as elder statesman in the years following the end of his Presidential term, perched on his mountaintop at Monticello, he turned aside many pleas to lend his considerable prestige to the growing abolitionist movement, preferring, instead, to maintain an enigmatic silence on the question.
And in his private conduct, too, there is much for which he can and should be called to account. His record on freeing slaves was not a good one; the owner of up to 200 slaves during most of his adult life, he managed to free only two slaves during his lifetime and five in his will. Manumission, to be sure, was a more complex and difficult process in 18th century Virginia than most of us understand; you couldnt, for instance, simply announce that slaves, individually or as a group, were free. But it was possible4,
3 For instance, the digest Jefferson prepared included a provision under which free blacks including those brought into the State from elsewhere and those freed by their Virginia owners could not remain in the State for more than one year; punishment for a violation was re-imposition of their slave status. The legislature removed this provision when the bill was ultimately enacted in 1786. See Julian Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, I, p. 473. The judgment of history has not been kind to Jefferson regarding this episode. Julian Boyd, perhaps the most scrupulous and even-handed of all Jefferson scholars, writes that while the suppressed amendment [for emancipation] was undoubtedly in advance of general sentiment, . . . it probably reflected prevalent liberal views, [while] the Bill as proposed lagged behind. It was far less liberal even than the legislature would accept . . . The chief extenuating circumstance that can be advanced in defense of the bills cruel penalties, Boyd goes on, is the supposition that the Committee never expected the Bill to be adopted as proposed.
Jefferson himself seemed ashamed of this episode. In his Autobiography, he is evasive and, possibly, duplicitous on the matter. He writes that he and the other members of the Committee charged with the law revision had agreed on plan for a future and general emancipation of the slaves; they decided, however, that this should be kept back, and attempted only by way of amendment when the bill was voted on by the Virginia legislature. There is no evidence of this agreement, nor was any amendment ever offered providing for emancipation; many scholars suggest that Jeffersons references to this in the Autobiography are, at best, exaggerations, and, at worst, downright lies.
4 It was possible partially, as noted above, because of Jeffersons support of a voluntary manumission bill. While manumission by deed the voluntary transfer of ownership from master to slave was declared lawful in Virginia in 1782, the manumission process was, in 18th century Virginia, a more complicated one than most of us understand. You couldnt simply announce that slaves, individually or in a group, were free; manumission was what we would now call a highly regulated process. For instance, before 1786, and Jefferson took little advantage of it. Having worked to reform the manumission laws, he hardly took advantage of them; having found a way to declare that slaves should be free, he never really found the way to declare that they were.
Call it expediency, or cowardice, or selfishness, or lack of moral courage; it probably reflects some of each, none of it particularly attractive. He was afraid of the public scandal he would cause if he renounced slavery, afraid of the possibly devastating consequences that would have on his public career there were, as Joseph Ellis notes, few quicker and surer ways to stop a political career in its tracks in Jefferson's time than to oppose white conquest of western lands in the name of Indian rights or to advocate the abolition of slavery -- and on his financial condition, afraid of going deeper into debt.
Well never know, for certain, how much further he could have pushed, how much more he could have done.
It is tempting to cry 'moral consistency at any price', to spit, in C. Vann Woodwards words, upon all sordid compromises of politics and expediency. But in the end men such as Jefferson need to be judged not for who they were but for what they thought and what they did.
5 Jefferson's failures, his compromises, and his hypocrisies will always, and quite fairly, provide grist for his critics. But his lasting importance lies in his singular effort to take some of the most unsettling ideas of the Enlightenment and put them to the test in the highest reaches of American politics. By doing so, he helped to infuse our political life with egalitarian and democratic impulses that exploded in the nineteenth century and are still very much alive.6 Tragically, for Jefferson and for his slaves, the mere declaration of the selfevident truth that all men are created equal did not, in and of itself, make them free; history doesnt usually, and it didnt in this case, work like that. Words are not selfexecuting. and again after 1806, freed slaves could not remain in Virginia for more than one year, and could be reenslaved if they were found in the State after that one year period. Similarly, slave-owners remained legally responsible for a slaves conduct after they were granted freedom. 5 Sean Wilentz, America Made Easy: McCullough, Adams, and the decline of popular history, The New Rupublic July 2 2001 p. 35.
6 Id. But they do, sometimes, have consequences. I repeat the claim I made at the outset of this talk: few people in human history did more, in the sum total of their lifetimes, to dismantle the institution of slavery than Jefferson. The principle of equality laid down in the Declaration of Independence what Gordon Wood has called the most powerful proposition in American history, bar none set in motion a chain of events that would lead, in as straight a line as history ever gives us, to emancipation.
Nobody understood this (or explained it) better than Lincoln, and he should have the last word(s). We must repulse, he wrote, those who would insidiously argue that the words of the Declaration of Independence were just glittering generalities, or, worse, self evident lies', for they are the vanguard the miners and sappers of returning despotism. The Declaration gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time, . . . promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. The cause of American progress and American greatness was not the Constitution or the Union, but something back of these, something entwining itself more closely about the human heart: the principle of Liberty to All.
All honor to Jefferson to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression. He supposed there was a question of God's eternal justice wrapped up in the enslaving of any race of men, or any man, and that those who did so braved the arm of Jehovah that when a nation thus dared the Almighty every friend of that nation had cause to dread His wrath.
Taking his cue from the 25th chapter of the Book of Proverbs a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver he wrote: The assertion of that principle, at that time, was the word 'fitly spoken' which has proved an 'apple of gold' to us. The Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around it. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple not the apple for the picture. So let us act, that neither picture, or apple, shall ever be blurred, or bruised, or broken.
Karl Marx Elementary?
Lenin Middle School?
Did you convert that from the pdf of Smartaleck's link?
All these critics are just little people trying to salve their egos by pi$$ing on a great man, a great leader and a great American.
Every one of the mindless PC Jefferson detractors could die tomorrow and would be forgotten within 5 minutes. Jefferson's vision and intellect will live on.
And that just galls them.
Stupid for me to post before that first cup of coffee.
If they want to change the name of the city, I have a suggestion. How about Commietown?
Try this slick. It was difficult to find on FR. A search of Jefferson school and Berkeley pulled it up as the third choice. The link was taken from the FR posting.
Jefferson was against slavery more than any other founder of our nation, our greatest champion of liberty.
And no doubt, Sequoia, who owned slaves, was quite comfortable being chief and not slaves, and so said or did nothing to change things ... but he had the right skin color to be the name of an elementary school in Berkely CA in the Age Political Correctness.
All in favor of shedding Berkley from the United States..say aye...
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