In my head I consider characters from history as if they are characters from an old book. I have to say one of the weirdest characters ever is Thomas Jefferson, and I can spend a large portion of my day just thinking about WTF was up with this guy. What did you want, man? Slavery or not? Agrarian society or big one? French Revolution or none? Recognize Haiti or fuck em? Loyalty to Adams or not really? Enlightenment thought or just an idealist? What was up with this guy? Seriously no one has him figured out.
I can’t say whether or not Jefferson was an overall bad guy, even thought he did some bad stuff. He made such large contributions to America, in my opinion deserves more credit in shaping American thought and culture than any other “founding father.”
As I flew back home yesterday, I looked out the window and observed the Midwest farmland, and this is what I saw:
If you look at aerial views of other countries, you won’t see such a prominent grid. This system of land surveying was the brainchild of Jefferson. Of course, there are others that deserve credit: William Penn and Oglethorpe are two I can think of right away. But how weird is it that so much of our American landscape, the way our country looks, is due to the notes of one man?
Then again there’s the age old question: Jefferson, were you racist or not? This begs the questions if whether or not racism should have a different definition for that time period. I’m sure the slaves who lived through that would think there shouldn’t be–racist is racist. You own slaves, you aren’t fully supporting equality of “all men.” And then there’s Sally Hemmings. The answer to one yes or no question (was it totally consensual or not?) can completely change our view of Jefferson. Martha, why did you have to die so young?
I’ve decided on a new project for this site: posting some of my old academic essays. They can be from years ago and for many of them, the quality isn’t that great–but I think I’ll post them up someplace. We’ll be starting with junior year AP History, and of course, Jefferson. I’ll edit this one later for a link. EDIT: link to essay
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
“A government is best which governs the least, because it’s people discipline itself.”
“It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing than to believe what is wrong.”