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An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson

jat93
Posts: 1,440
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6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I find myself very interested in Thomas Jefferson, as a person and as a President. I was originally going to post this in the "Worst Presidents" thread but wanted to see what people thought of Jefferson's Presidency specifically, and whether or not Jefferson was a hypocrite because of the things I'm about to mention.

Why should a President's moral character (assuming it's private, but perhaps even if it isn't) influence our view of how favorably or unfavorably he and his administration affected the country?

Take Thomas Jefferson for example. Thomas Jefferson had a secret "relationship" with Sally Hemmings, one of the hundreds of slaves he used to build the Montacello. Using her as his concubine, she bore him a few children, 6 I think. He never gave his children any special treatment and if I recall correctly left them enslaved without really helping them. Might I note that Sally was his ex-wife's half-sister. The whole deal with Jefferson, Sally Hemmings, and slavery in general was morally sketchy at best. His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.

And consider Jefferson's philosophy of strict adherence to the constitution. The Louisiana Purchase involved him using powers he didn't have and not passing it through congress first. Surely he would have argued vehemently against the Purchase if it were in the hands of any other President.

But as a President, Jefferson lowered taxes, kept the country out of foreign wars, was a champion for religious freedom, pardoned those who had been imprisoned under the terrible Alien and Sedition Acts that had been passed under Adams' Presidency, launched the Lewis and Clark expedition which eventually got America the Oregon Territory, and as I mentioned, made the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the country, gave us the Port of New Orleans and access to the Mississippi River.

So, should his personal shortcomings and contradictions influence the way we view his Presidency? If it didn't really make an impact on the nation, quite frankly, who cares?
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/28/2011 4:30:03 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:
I find myself very interested in Thomas Jefferson, as a person and as a President. I was originally going to post this in the "Worst Presidents" thread but wanted to see what people thought of Jefferson's Presidency specifically, and whether or not Jefferson was a hypocrite because of the things I'm about to mention.


Why should a President's moral character (assuming it's private, but perhaps even if it isn't) influence our view of how favorably or unfavorably he and his administration affected the country?

Take Thomas Jefferson for example. Thomas Jefferson had a secret "relationship" with Sally Hemmings, one of the hundreds of slaves he used to build the Montacello. Using her as his concubine, she bore him a few children, 6 I think. He never gave his children any special treatment and if I recall correctly left them enslaved without really helping them. Might I note that Sally was his ex-wife's half-sister. The whole deal with Jefferson, Sally Hemmings, and slavery in general was morally sketchy at best. His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.

And consider Jefferson's philosophy of strict adherence to the constitution. The Louisiana Purchase involved him using powers he didn't have and not passing it through congress first. Surely he would have argued vehemently against the Purchase if it were in the hands of any other President.

But as a President, Jefferson lowered taxes, kept the country out of foreign wars, was a champion for religious freedom, pardoned those who had been imprisoned under the terrible Alien and Sedition Acts that had been passed under Adams' Presidency, launched the Lewis and Clark expedition which eventually got America the Oregon Territory, and as I mentioned, made the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the country, gave us the Port of New Orleans and access to the Mississippi River.

So, should his personal shortcomings and contradictions influence the way we view his Presidency? If it didn't really make an impact on the nation, quite frankly, who cares?

Because people look for and actually expect, perfection in their presidents; they ignore or cannot fully appreciate the historic context or the political pressures, but judge within the confines of their own subjectivity. They're just men filled with all the imperfections that everyone is filled with, they just have better skill in hiding them (usually). I imagine hypocrisy is part of the job. I also imagine that Ron Paul, the darling of this site would be no less immune from these imperfections.
jat93
Posts: 1,440
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6/28/2011 5:15:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 4:30:03 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:
I find myself very interested in Thomas Jefferson, as a person and as a President. I was originally going to post this in the "Worst Presidents" thread but wanted to see what people thought of Jefferson's Presidency specifically, and whether or not Jefferson was a hypocrite because of the things I'm about to mention.


Why should a President's moral character (assuming it's private, but perhaps even if it isn't) influence our view of how favorably or unfavorably he and his administration affected the country?

Take Thomas Jefferson for example. Thomas Jefferson had a secret "relationship" with Sally Hemmings, one of the hundreds of slaves he used to build the Montacello. Using her as his concubine, she bore him a few children, 6 I think. He never gave his children any special treatment and if I recall correctly left them enslaved without really helping them. Might I note that Sally was his ex-wife's half-sister. The whole deal with Jefferson, Sally Hemmings, and slavery in general was morally sketchy at best. His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.

And consider Jefferson's philosophy of strict adherence to the constitution. The Louisiana Purchase involved him using powers he didn't have and not passing it through congress first. Surely he would have argued vehemently against the Purchase if it were in the hands of any other President.

But as a President, Jefferson lowered taxes, kept the country out of foreign wars, was a champion for religious freedom, pardoned those who had been imprisoned under the terrible Alien and Sedition Acts that had been passed under Adams' Presidency, launched the Lewis and Clark expedition which eventually got America the Oregon Territory, and as I mentioned, made the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the country, gave us the Port of New Orleans and access to the Mississippi River.

So, should his personal shortcomings and contradictions influence the way we view his Presidency? If it didn't really make an impact on the nation, quite frankly, who cares?

Because people look for and actually expect, perfection in their presidents; they ignore or cannot fully appreciate the historic context or the political pressures, but judge within the confines of their own subjectivity. They're just men filled with all the imperfections that everyone is filled with, they just have better skill in hiding them (usually). I imagine hypocrisy is part of the job. I also imagine that Ron Paul, the darling of this site would be no less immune from these imperfections.

So you're saying that most peoples' expectations of Presidents are unrealistic... I get that, as long as that inherent human imperfection/hypocrisy is limited to that which does not affect American citizens.

Also, I disagree about Ron Paul. First of all, he would never fall prey to any kind of sexual infidelity, having been married to his wife Carol for over 50 years, with no affairs or anything. He has really done nothing that outwardly contradicts any position he has ever supported. Plus, unlike Jefferson, Ron Paul would be serving after years and years of dishonest Presidents, so his entire platform is that he's honest and consistent and relatively incorruptible in his views, so he would not fall prey to such hypocrisy. I don't think Jefferson's platform was honesty in spite of dishonest politicians that preceded him; had that been the case, perhaps he'd have acted differently (i.e. not coming close to violating the constitution).
David-Duke
Posts: 102
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6/28/2011 5:41:43 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:
I find myself very interested in Thomas Jefferson, as a person and as a President. I was originally going to post this in the "Worst Presidents" thread but wanted to see what people thought of Jefferson's Presidency specifically, and whether or not Jefferson was a hypocrite because of the things I'm about to mention.


Why should a President's moral character (assuming it's private, but perhaps even if it isn't) influence our view of how favorably or unfavorably he and his administration affected the country?

Take Thomas Jefferson for example. Thomas Jefferson had a secret "relationship" with Sally Hemmings, one of the hundreds of slaves he used to build the Montacello. Using her as his concubine, she bore him a few children, 6 I think. He never gave his children any special treatment and if I recall correctly left them enslaved without really helping them. Might I note that Sally was his ex-wife's half-sister. The whole deal with Jefferson, Sally Hemmings, and slavery in general was morally sketchy at best. His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.
This is one of my reasons why I like Thomas Jefferson.

And consider Jefferson's philosophy of strict adherence to the constitution. The Louisiana Purchase involved him using powers he didn't have and not passing it through congress first. Surely he would have argued vehemently against the Purchase if it were in the hands of any other President.
No one is perfect.

But as a President, Jefferson lowered taxes, kept the country out of foreign wars, was a champion for religious freedom, pardoned those who had been imprisoned under the terrible Alien and Sedition Acts that had been passed under Adams' Presidency, launched the Lewis and Clark expedition which eventually got America the Oregon Territory, and as I mentioned, made the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the country, gave us the Port of New Orleans and access to the Mississippi River.

So, should his personal shortcomings and contradictions influence the way we view his Presidency? If it didn't really make an impact on the nation, quite frankly, who cares?

Exactly.
mongeese
Posts: 5,387
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6/28/2011 8:43:24 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
http://americanhistory.about.com...

Jefferson actually did question whether or not he could truly make the purchase, but an amendment might have taken too long, and there were some military concerns with the land. It's just a shame that he never got an amendment passed after the fact.
jat93
Posts: 1,440
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6/28/2011 9:02:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 5:41:43 PM, David-Duke wrote:
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:

... His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.
This is one of my reasons why I like Thomas Jefferson.

Funny, because I thought you were a racial separatist, not a white supremacist...
feverish
Posts: 2,716
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6/28/2011 9:29:51 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 9:02:54 PM, jat93 wrote:
At 6/28/2011 5:41:43 PM, David-Duke wrote:
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:

... His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.
This is one of my reasons why I like Thomas Jefferson.

Funny, because I thought you were a racial separatist, not a white supremacist...

Zing!
comoncents
Posts: 5,647
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6/28/2011 9:39:25 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I think his wife was dead, and the relationship with Sally was mutual. Who really care. He did what he thought was right, even if it went outside the constitution. He allowed reason to dictate his presidency. I do not see him much different than Obama in that respect. THey did have different principles, but nether of them stuck to principle outside of reason as an ideologue would.
David-Duke
Posts: 102
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6/28/2011 10:24:13 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 9:02:54 PM, jat93 wrote:
At 6/28/2011 5:41:43 PM, David-Duke wrote:
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:

... His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.
This is one of my reasons why I like Thomas Jefferson.

Funny, because I thought you were a racial separatist, not a white supremacist...

I am, but (since White Supremacists are almost always white seperatists) this shows that Thomas Jefferson would have a positive view of white seperatism.
jat93
Posts: 1,440
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6/29/2011 1:32:21 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 9:39:25 PM, comoncents wrote:
I think his wife was dead, and the relationship with Sally was mutual. Who really care. He did what he thought was right, even if it went outside the constitution. He allowed reason to dictate his presidency. I do not see him much different than Obama in that respect. THey did have different principles, but nether of them stuck to principle outside of reason as an ideologue would.

- hypothetically, if sally did not consent to sleeping with them, would she have the choice to say no? also, he did keep his children enslaved for quite sometime and only freed them gradually. jussayin.
- a lot of people do what they think is right, even if it violates the constitution, and a lot of people are also almost always wrong.
- thomas jefferson is in no way similar to barack obama, and if jefferson was alive today, he'd be the leading critic against him. plus, jefferson at least cared about the constitution, was troubled when he was presented with tough choices that would involve him violating the constitution, and generally his decisions resulted in positive things for the country. obama, the constitutional scholar, has continually spit (spat) on the constitution since day one, and in doing so has made choices that lead the country into despair.
- obama made statements before the election that he outright contradicted afterward. like black and white. as far as i know jefferson did no such thing. for instance, obama (and biden and hillary too) spoke about bush's violating of war powers and his inability to go to war when the other nation posed no direct threat to america. as proven by the whole libya ordeal, obama is a liar.
jat93
Posts: 1,440
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6/29/2011 1:38:32 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 10:24:13 PM, David-Duke wrote:
At 6/28/2011 9:02:54 PM, jat93 wrote:
At 6/28/2011 5:41:43 PM, David-Duke wrote:
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:

... His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.
This is one of my reasons why I like Thomas Jefferson.

Funny, because I thought you were a racial separatist, not a white supremacist...

: I am, but (since White Supremacists are almost always white seperatists)

- ha, all the more so, white separatists are almost always white supremacists. the veil of "i only think we shouldn't live together" fools nobody. nobody with half a brain anyway.

this shows that Thomas Jefferson would have a positive view of white seperatism.

um, no. jefferson viewed slaves as inferior and thus as necessitating watch and care by whites. that's how he justified his living with hundreds of slaves. a proponent of white separatist who is not a racist scumbag (they are hard to come by, because they don't really exist) would not live with hundreds of slaves.

so, wrong on both accounts.
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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6/29/2011 4:26:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/28/2011 5:15:54 PM, jat93 wrote:
At 6/28/2011 4:30:03 PM, innomen wrote:
At 6/28/2011 4:18:03 PM, jat93 wrote:
I find myself very interested in Thomas Jefferson, as a person and as a President. I was originally going to post this in the "Worst Presidents" thread but wanted to see what people thought of Jefferson's Presidency specifically, and whether or not Jefferson was a hypocrite because of the things I'm about to mention.


Why should a President's moral character (assuming it's private, but perhaps even if it isn't) influence our view of how favorably or unfavorably he and his administration affected the country?

Take Thomas Jefferson for example. Thomas Jefferson had a secret "relationship" with Sally Hemmings, one of the hundreds of slaves he used to build the Monticello. Using her as his concubine, she bore him a few children, 6 I think. He never gave his children any special treatment and if I recall correctly left them enslaved without really helping them. Might I note that Sally was his ex-wife's half-sister. The whole deal with Jefferson, Sally Hemmings, and slavery in general was morally sketchy at best. His book "Notes on the State of Virginia" is riddled with contradictory views of slavery; at one point he calls it an "abominable crime" yet he goes on to speak of the superior beauty and worth of whites and how blacks are morally, intellectually, and physically inferior.

And consider Jefferson's philosophy of strict adherence to the constitution. The Louisiana Purchase involved him using powers he didn't have and not passing it through congress first. Surely he would have argued vehemently against the Purchase if it were in the hands of any other President.

But as a President, Jefferson lowered taxes, kept the country out of foreign wars, was a champion for religious freedom, pardoned those who had been imprisoned under the terrible Alien and Sedition Acts that had been passed under Adams' Presidency, launched the Lewis and Clark expedition which eventually got America the Oregon Territory, and as I mentioned, made the Louisiana Purchase which doubled the size of the country, gave us the Port of New Orleans and access to the Mississippi River.

So, should his personal shortcomings and contradictions influence the way we view his Presidency? If it didn't really make an impact on the nation, quite frankly, who cares?

Because people look for and actually expect, perfection in their presidents; they ignore or cannot fully appreciate the historic context or the political pressures, but judge within the confines of their own subjectivity. They're just men filled with all the imperfections that everyone is filled with, they just have better skill in hiding them (usually). I imagine hypocrisy is part of the job. I also imagine that Ron Paul, the darling of this site would be no less immune from these imperfections.

So you're saying that most peoples' expectations of Presidents are unrealistic... I get that, as long as that inherent human imperfection/hypocrisy is limited to that which does not affect American citizens.

Also, I disagree about Ron Paul. First of all, he would never fall prey to any kind of sexual infidelity, having been married to his wife Carol for over 50 years, with no affairs or anything. He has really done nothing that outwardly contradicts any position he has ever supported. Plus, unlike Jefferson, Ron Paul would be serving after years and years of dishonest Presidents, so his entire platform is that he's honest and consistent and relatively incorruptible in his views, so he would not fall prey to such hypocrisy. I don't think Jefferson's platform was honesty in spite of dishonest politicians that preceded him; had that been the case, perhaps he'd have acted differently (i.e. not coming close to violating the constitution).

Three things are dynamic in this: One is ignorance to the historic context. It's easy for us to egocentrically cast judgment on someone then from our point now in history. However you cannot escape the mindset of the time and how it is completely alien to ours now. The accepted norm in these views were completely ingrained after thousands of years of thinking. Second is the nature of the office, where EVERYONE is forced to be a hypocrite because you will sacrifice your personal values for the greater good of what is best for the country - they are often in conflict. Third is simply the nature of man being imperfect and susceptible to temptation and other such things. No person is immune from that. To expect otherwise of a president is to be naive.

Ron Paul would be no exception to this. If you think that he would not be involved in international dalliances, you're kidding yourself.