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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Jefferson is out at Monticello


Monticello has gone woke, write Mary Kay Linge and Jon Levine in the New York Post. Tours of Thomas Jefferson's home stress slavery as part of a campaign to "balance the historical record."


“The tour guides play ‘besmirchment derby,’ never missing a chance to defame this brilliant, complex man,” Stephen Owen of Enochville, NC, wrote on Facebook.


“People on my tour seemed sad and demoralized,” Jeffrey Tucker, founder of the libertarian Brownstone Institute, told The Post. His guide was "surly and dismissive" about Jefferson's accomplishments.


Jefferson's music room, is decorated with Gilbert Stuart’s presidential portrait and classical busts, Linge and Levine write.


It also includes a large modern painting by Titus Kaphar that was commissioned for Juneteenth. The figure’s “hands and face of featureless tar” represent “the faceless lives of all who served in bondage, witnessing but never recognized,” an identifying card explains.


Monticello used to celebrate Jefferson, write Linge and Levine.


In the past, the managers of Monticello sanitized Jefferson’s history for the 25 million tourists who have flocked there since it was opened to the public in 1923. References to slavery were few, and signs labeled “Servants’ Quarters” marked sites where Jefferson’s slaves once lived.
. . . on a visit this week, The Post found, the grievance has become the predominant theme at Monticello, from the ticket booth in the visitors center — decorated with a contemporary painting of Jefferson’s weeping slaves — to its final gift-shop display.

Outdoors, guides begin their tours by reminding visitors Europeans took the land from the natives by "a lot of violence."


On a patio outside the snack show, placards address civil rights topics. “Is ‘all men are created equal’ being lived up to in our country today?” one reads. "When will we know when it is?"


The Farm Shop store "displays five titles on Jefferson’s slaves — and a single biography of the man himself," write Linge and Levine.


I did Junior Great Books from fifth through ninth grade. (I was in the pilot group.) Every year, we started by discussing the Declaration of Independence. It took years to get past "all men are created equal." We knew Jefferson owned slaves, and we struggled with that. I don't think we ever got beyond "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."


I think it's fine for Monticello visitors to think about what "all men are created equal" meant to Jefferson and means to us now. But Jefferson was a lot more than the man who had sex with Sally Hemings, his late wife's half-sister and his slave.


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4 Comments


Guest
Jul 16, 2022

DNA only proves that some male in the Jefferson family had sex with Sally Hemings. Thomas Jefferson had a brother and two nephews who were well known for their visits to the slave cabins. Also the rumor that Thomas Jefferson had sex with Sally Hemings was started by a journalist who was angry that Jefferson did not appoint him to a post in government.

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Guest
Jul 15, 2022

It is interesting to note that every American still employs slave labor. Go to slaveryfootprint(dot)org, and watch it count up the numbers for you.


Here's the question I always ask my history students, "Go to that website, find out how many slaves currently work for you. Now, ask yourself, are you willing to give up the computers, jewelry, cars, clothes and food you own or plan on purchasing, in order to free the slaves who are currently working for you? If not, can you see why the Founding Fathers may have been opposed to slavery, but chose to free their slaves only in their last will and testament?"

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lazygeorge
Jul 14, 2022

I do not think this will bring visitors to Monticello

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Guest
Jul 14, 2022
Replying to

Fighting for Liberty 🗽 should be worth something to today's ingrates

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