Rom, you say that Mr. Jefferson fell short of the Lord’s call. Most people do. Who are you to judge?
I made a very simple statement. Thomas Jefferson, in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, decried slavery. Maybe, instead of the hypocrisy you find in him, he was expressing what he had learned from and regretted about his experience as a slave holder. Is that not a possibility?
It is grotesquely unfair to hold historical figures to modern morals and/or views. It is also unfair to expect perfection of human beings past or present. Mr. Jefferson lived in a time where slavery was the rule not the exception and yet, he, a slave owner, proclaimed that slavery was wrong. He owned a plantation. Successful, economically viable plantations owned slaves. It was a reflection of that reality that the Founders had the slavery section removed.
The Declaration of Independence was a statement of principles and a very controversial one at that. The issue of slavery was only one of the controversies this document dealt with. The Declaration of Independence declared for the first time in history that man’s rights are God given and not given by a monarch or other kind of human leader. This idea was totally radical for the time.
However, if we take your stance on the issue, that someone who owned slaves cannot credibly denounce slavery, we would have to also believe that Jefferson, a wealthy, British subject, had no moral authority to denounce the concept of monarchy. He was a rich land owner. He most certainly benefited from the monarchy. So, given your logic, the Declaration of Independence is totally hypocritical in every way shape and form. We would have to conclude and agree with our Leftist friends that the very foundation of our country is a fraud. Surely you are not suggesting that?
How about this? Paul was not exactly a fine example of Christian living when God called him to His service, was he? He was, in fact, someone who persecuted the church. And yet, he became an apostle. We don’t dismiss him and his conversion for his previous flaws, do we? Paul was a human being as was Thomas Jefferson. We do not hold Paul to the same standard of perfection you are applying to Jefferson. Why hold our Founders to a higher standard?
The simple fact of the matter is that Jefferson, despite or perhaps even because of his ownership of slaves, wrote the defining document in our country’s history and in his first draft, he denounced slavery as morally wrong. And the fact that the US eventually abolished slavery was, in no small part, based upon the notion that Jefferson penned in the Declaration that “all men are created equal.” That’s not mindless hero worship. That’s straight historical fact.
I do some thing quite well while I fall short of ordinary in other endeavors. I’m sure Jefferson was much the same. Over the past few years it has become fashionable to excoriate him for his treatment of his slaves. In doing so we have fallen into a common trap: Judging his actions in his time by the morals of ours.
Most people think that crucifixion was intended as a particularly cruel form of execution. It was not. It was just the common method of the day.
By the same token, Jefferson wasn’t particularly harsh with his slaves. He was a farmer and he had to know that it was in his best interest to take care of his “equipment.” The slave quarters were about equal to those on any other well-run farm in the area. Did he breed Sally Cummings? Maybe, but his brother might have done it instead. That jury is still out.
Jefferson was a good writer and architect and a decent statesman but not a very good businessman. As time went by he had to sell most of his library and furnishings in order to keep his house. I imagine he sold his slaves too.
Believe me, I do not want to hold Jefferson to any standard that we hold today. That was not my intent. However, my response was really to someone who called someone else a (and I quote) ‘dumbass’.
As for Paul, he had a conversion — and his life was *markedly* changed after accepting the Lord. Jefferson seems to have been the same person — actually, Jefferson would go on to make a Bible Translation that stripped any references to the divinity of Christ, so his story is very different from Saul of Tarsus.
Jefferson would go on to call black people inferior to white people, and to propose the Indian Removal plan. These are blemishes on his record — and contrary to his pretty abolitionist words.
However, I will say this: Overall the man has done much to advance the cause of liberty and individual freedom. I think you’ll have to take my response in context to who I was responding to :)