Jefferson's Prophecy, The Rest Of The Story: "The Two Races, Equally Free, Cannot Live In The Same Government"
Print Friendly and PDF

Thomas Jefferson, a great President, a great intellectual, and author of the Declaration of Independence, has a memorial called the Jefferson Memorial, which is a little large to for a mob to pull down, although I believe they've been descrating it.

There are some inscriptions on the inside, chosen in 1943 by New Deal Democrats, which include some cherry-picked anti-slavery sentences.

A reader wrote us in 2013 to point out that Jefferson's quote struck him as odd. The quote (carved in stone on a panel inside the monument) included this.

“Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. 

Our reader looked up the whole thing and constructed this: has a fuller analysis of the whole panel [Cherry-Picked Quotations on the Jefferson Memorial, January 6, 2018] in which author Tim Langerman says 

Although it looks as though the text etched into Panel Three of the Jefferson Memorial is a single quotation from Jefferson, it actually is a compilation of 6 separate quotations.  Can you see what was lost when the context of each excerpt was stripped away?

The quote about blacks being free—but not living with whites—is this (emphasis added by

  • The principles of the amendment however were agreed on, that is to say, the freedom of all born after a certain day, and deportation at a proper age. But it was found that the public mind would not yet bear the proposition, nor will it bear it even at this day. Yet the day is not distant when it must bear and adopt it, or worse will follow. “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peaceably and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be pari passu filled up by free white laborers. If on the contrary it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up. We should in vain look for an example in the Spanish deportation or deletion of the Moors.” – Jefferson’s Autobiography

So you see, Jefferson was against slavery not only because it was bad for blacks, but because it was bad for white Americans.

He didn't think a multiracial polity was going to work out, and he thought free white labor would make better Americans than black slaves, and he hoped to help the blacks return to Africa, a goal shared by Marcus Garvey and Abraham Lincoln.

Jefferson believed in liberty, but he also believed in America. That's why he's now a target.


Print Friendly and PDF