Student newsies seek to cancel University of Virginia founder Thomas Jefferson
We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal [and independent], that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable.
Disregarding Thomas Jefferson's lifetime pursuit of seeking to abolish slavery, student reporters and editors at the University of Virginia are seeking to cancel Jefferson on the campus he once founded for their benefit. The students running the Cavalier Daily at UVA have wronged the reputation of Thomas Jefferson by demanding that statues, memorials, and buildings bearing the likeness or name of Jefferson be removed or renamed.
Young Americans for Freedom UVA chairperson Nickolaus Cabrera reported to Breitbart News, "Every year, the radicals display the August 11th and 12th events of 2017 as a means of cultural setback. They use the 'Unite the Right' rally for their own political ends. Cavalier Daily continues to use these horrific events. ... As they continue to push their anti-Jefferson narrative ... they continue to harm the strong, foundational principles that Jefferson sought when founding the University of Virginia."
Jefferson's foundational principles would require adherence to the "rights of man," which would include Jefferson's right to be defended against accusations unfounded by the facts of his life. While Jefferson did own slaves, he also wished to see the institution of slavery discontinued. This truth can be read in any good biography on the life of the third president. But truth, in the media, is not allowed to triumph over falsity — for example, the truth that the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party participants in the so-called "Unite the Right" rally were not right-wing, since both entities were founded and led by left-wing personages, among them ex-Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest and Adolf Hitler — of the Democrat and the Nazi parties, respectively.
In contrast to the beliefs of Forrest and Hitler, Jefferson stated unequivocally, in the opening words of his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal & independant [sic]," thereby indicating his intention, prior to his antislavery complaint within the same document, to abolish slavery once and for all, claiming that not only are all God's children created equal, but that they are also created independent from one another; in other words, forcing one person to serve another, without consent, is a violation of natural law.
The Cavalier Daily's accusations boil down to this: that Jefferson was an unrepentant white supremacist and an unapologetic slaveholder, even to the extent that his statues inspired a berserk political rally, and that the seeds of violence at that rally were sown by the sins of UVA's founder, and not the hateful teachings of leftist KKK and Nazi political operatives.
[T]he want of talents ... is merely the effect of their degraded condition, and not proceeding from any difference in the structure of the parts on which intellect depends.
Jefferson was not the white supremacist Democrats want everyone to believe he was. The research of Agresti and Sheik indicates that, "[r]egarding the claim that Jefferson said blacks are 'inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind,' he actually said this was his 'suspicion only.'" Jefferson later wrote that he wished to see a "complete refutation" of all such notions. Indeed, Jefferson's having met Benjamin Banneker dispelled all doubts already by 1791. In a letter to Banneker, dated August 30, 1791, Jefferson wrote the following: "No body wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colours of men, and that the appearance of a want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa and America."
I am happy to be able to inform you that we have now in the United States a negro [Benjamin Banneker] ... who is a very respectable Mathematician. I procured him to be employed ... in laying out the new federal city on the Patowmac, and ... while on that work, he made an Almanac for the next year ... which I inclose to you. ... He is a free man. ... [This] prove[s] that the want of talents observed in [slaves] is merely the effect of their degraded condition, and not proceeding from any difference in the structure of the parts on which intellect depends.
[The] hiring will be temporary only, and will end in their happiness.
After the Revolutionary War, Jefferson had difficulty in freeing his slaves (although he did manage to free five slaves in his will) due to the massive debt he had accumulated, much of it inherited from others. Slaves used as collateral in loans for the paying off of debts could not, by law, be freed. To pay creditors, Jefferson chose to use his slaves as collateral for the necessary loans, rather than sell his slaves for cash to others who might ill use them. He also hired out some of his slaves to others so he might raise a profit without having to sell them. "'Hiring presents a hopeful prospect,' Jefferson declared, as it would allow him to retain ownership of enslaved people and possibly free them in future time. ... [T]he 'hiring will be temporary only, and will end in their happiness,' which Jefferson defined as improved material conditions and the ability to remain with their families. On the other hand, he wrote, 'if we sell them, they will be subject to ill usage without a prospect of change' and likely be sold southward." In using his slaves for collateral and by hiring them out, Jefferson made use of "friendly creditors" unlikely to seize his slaves in order to pay themselves back.
According to Monticello.org, "[t]hroughout his entire life, Thomas Jefferson was publicly a consistent opponent of slavery. Calling it a 'moral depravity' and a 'hideous blot,' he believed that slavery presented the greatest threat to the survival of the new American nation. Jefferson also thought that slavery was contrary to the laws of nature, which decreed that everyone had a right to personal liberty. These views were radical in a world where unfree labor was the norm." And, indeed, it would take the antislavery vision of Jefferson himself to plant the seeds of freedom for all in the enduring words of the Declaration of Independence.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
Jefferson's words, as rendered in the final edit of the Declaration of Independence, have echoed down through the ages, given voice by such personalities as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King. Abraham Lincoln wrote, "All honor to Jefferson — to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression." In light of this self-evident truth expressed by Lincoln, the editorial staff of the Cavalier Daily would do well to reconsider their position.
Image: Library of Congress via Picryl, no known restrictions.