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Thomas Jefferson: Thinker, Patriot, Hypocritical Monster

Picture: Portrait by Charles Wilson Peale (PD)

Paul Finkelman has published an op-ed at the New York Times on academic history’s failure to come to terms with Thomas Jefferson’s paradoxical support of slavery. It’s worth a read.

Via New York Times:

We are endlessly fascinated with Jefferson, in part because we seem unable to reconcile the rhetoric of liberty in his writing with the reality of his slave owning and his lifetime support for slavery. Time and again, we play down the latter in favor of the former, or write off the paradox as somehow indicative of his complex depths.

Neither Mr. Meacham, who mostly ignores Jefferson’s slave ownership, nor Mr. Wiencek, who sees him as a sort of fallen angel who comes to slavery only after discovering how profitable it could be, seem willing to confront the ugly truth: the third president was a creepy, brutal hypocrite.

Contrary to Mr.

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