The Founding Fathers

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

One good thing about me is that I enjoy reading. I read every day and I have tons of books. There are times where I get out of the habit and do not read much. I have realized when this happens I am less happy. So when I began to struggle with life this year, I decided to pick up some books and read. It was amazing the effect it had on me. Ideas start to pour in and I feel better about my outlook.

I decided in June that since Independence Day was coming up, I wanted to read some books about the founding fathers, so I picked up 4 books with the goal of reading them prior to the 4th of July. To my surprise, I was so into the books that I was able to finish them and complete my goal.

I must admit I am a bit of a History buff and I try to only read biographies that are trusted and not just slander. The founders are slandered so much and I think it is a bit unfair, since they are not here to defend themselves. I chose to read a series from the National Center for Constitutional Studies, because they focus on the primary sources and let the reader decide for themselves. My takeaway has simply been, though not perfect, they are not the monsters they are portrait as in our modern times.

One simple example is Thomas Jefferson’s supposed relationship with Sally Hemming. Here are some notes I took as I read about his life:

Thomas Jefferson is not the Scumbag you think he is:

In our modern society it has become a writ of passage for the moral police to dictate what to believe about the past. A wise English novelist once noted: “Though God cannot alter the past, historians can.” (Erewhon Revisited, The Works of Samuel Butler, 1925)

I do not believe there has ever been a political figure who has had his name slandered more than Thomas Jefferson, both when he was alive and continuing today.

It is easy (and profitable) to delve into smut and for an irresponsible historian smut is what sells. That is the case of Fawn Brodie whose decision to degrade one of the great men of our history has turned almost absurd in its relevance today.

Why you think Thomas Jefferson had relations with Sally Hemmings –

It begins with the Sedition Act of 1798. John Adams, the 2nd President of the United States made it illegal to protest the government. Any public opposition to the government could see you face jail time. One such person was a man by the name of James Thomson Callender, who, as a journalist, had been a relenting critic of John Adams and the Federalists. Upon coming onto the presidency, Thomas Jefferson immediately pardoned anyone imprisoned by the Sedition Act, including Mr. Callender.  Wanting more than just a pardon, Callender sought to become the postmaster in Richmond, Virginia. President Jefferson did not oblige and Callender became his bitterest enemy.

Prior to being the enemy of Jefferson, Callender had been slandering Sally Hemming, calling her all kinds of names in the papers. Once he was not given his appointment by Jefferson, it was easy for Callender to connect the two in a romantic way. For his part, Jefferson refused to sink to his level and would not even address the charges against him.

While alive, Jefferson was exonerated. Outside of this obvious slander, there was not a single person who testified against Jefferson or believed it to be true. His servants stated after his death that they were with him everywhere and there was not even a thought that there was anything inappropriate going on. Not only that, they said they were never even alone together.

So, why do we believe this in our modern times? Simple. There was a DNA study done during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Clinton had a friend who was a distinguished professor who, despite opposition from others, decided to run a statement that implicated Jefferson and Hemming. The study would show that they had children together and put to rest anything to the contrary. Clinton was then able to say, see the founders were not great people and they were not impeached. Sounds pretty convincing!

Just one problem, once the impeachment trial was over, the professor ran a retraction, because the DNA actually exonerated Jefferson. It showed of 4 of the 5 children there were no traces of Jefferson DNA, and the 1 child where some was found, it could have been 1 of 20 different Jefferson’s, the most likely at the time was either his brother or his nephew, where Sally was a servant when the child was conceived. For more information please see:

Crazy what we do with history!

That is just one example of why we think the way we do about the founders. There are more stories of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin that would surprise us to know never happened. All the same, the books I read were:

  • The Real Benjamin Franklin
  • The Real Thomas Jefferson
  • The Real George Washington
  • The Real James Madison

It is a series I would recommend to hear their own words from primary sources and not from a book whose purpose is to sell copies at the expense of the people who cannot defend themselves. You may find they are inspirational, not despicable figure.

Find the books here:

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