Democracy Dies in Darkness

Letters to the Editor | Opinion

Thomas Jefferson isn’t defined by controversies

September 10, 2018 at 6:05 PM

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Knowledge proves this statement true and currently relevant. In his Sept. 3 letter, “Don’t judge Jefferson by 21st-century standards,” Edward McManus justified things Thomas Jefferson was known for that make some today hesitant to support him. Yes, Jefferson had relations with 16-year-old Sally Hemings, who bore his children, but this was normal back then. People married young, and marriage laws were different. Jefferson also had slaves at Monticello, but this was for several reasons. Jefferson despised slavery, but he had no choice. Being the governor of Virginia, he knew the state was dependent on slaves for survival. There weren’t enough colonists in Virginia during mass plantation, therefore slaves toiled to maintain balance. Had he banned slavery outright, it would have been sudden death for all.

Controversies aside, we should know this didn’t define Jefferson morally. He cared equally for everybody, which led to him writing the Declaration of Independence, governing Virginia, serving as president and even finishing the Louisiana Purchase, creating true freedom. The accomplishments Jefferson fulfilled are astonishing, making him one of the most influential people in the United States. Had he not succeeded, I wouldn’t be able to write this.

Jonathan Tatum, Manassas

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