He Wrote for the Ages

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For starters, I am not a fan of Thomas Jefferson. In fact, the more I know of this founding father, the less I like him. The Sage of Monticello routinely had young male slaves beaten for no better reason than custom, and lay the foundation for secession in 1798 with his Kentucky Resolution.

Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the Polish hero of the Revolutionary War, once offered to liquidate land holdings in the Northwest Territory to pay Jefferson to free some of his slaves, and Jefferson declined. Disillusioned, Kosciuszko condemned Jefferson as a fraud for once insisting “all men were created equal,” and not practicing that “truth.”

However, the reality remains that Jefferson did indeed, pen those words, and generations of Jeffersonian disciples have insisted those words are enough to maintain his venerated place in American history.

And I agree. His adulators are correct. Jefferson’s words are enough. His phrasing, painstakingly composed in 1776 has ignited the world on the ultimate quest to actualize Jefferson’s “unalienable” assertions. 

Abraham Lincoln took Jefferson’s sentiment to heart, and his devotion moved Lincoln to action. The foundation of the Republican Party rested partly upon removing artificial impediments restraining upward mobility, and Lincoln believed slavery such an obstacle, the most malignant bar to individual betterment. (Duh). In 1859 he stated in a speech, “We proposed to give all a chance; and we expected the weak to grow stronger, the ignorant, wiser; and all better.” And Lincoln made it his aim to realize that betterment, first with Emancipation, then the 13th Amendment.

There could be no better description for America than a people steadily discarding artificial barriers. Women, Native Americans, LGBTQ Americans, Latino Americans: all of us freed to reach our highest potential. Annoying bigotry places a drag on the process, but justice still manages to surge steadily on, inspired by the words of the Declaration of Independence–Jefferson’s words. 

In reality, Jefferson had meant to argue white wealthy Colonials were of equal standing to Great Britain’s landed aristocracy. Despite his original intent, the promise of those words have outlived that specific moment. 

Understandably, Thaddeus Kosciuszko gave up in the face of Jefferson’s outrageous duplicity. And this generation of fanatics desperately promote Jefferson’s original racism. But, kids, we have inherited an obligation to continue this journey, not only for ourselves but to light the way for our children’s children.

Gail Chumbley is the author of the World War Two-era memoir “River of January,” and “River of January: Figure Eight.” Both are available on Kindle, and hard copies at http://www.river-of-january.com

gailchumbley@gmail.com

 

6 comments on “He Wrote for the Ages

  1. First off I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick
    question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was
    interested to know how you center yourself and clear
    your thoughts before writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there.
    I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to
    figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Kudos!

    • There is a great book by Liz Gilbert called “Big Magic.” She talks about that stuck feeling and how to get going.
      As for me, I have to have something to say. My background is American history and I draw connections with then and now. Then, there is that process where I start out with a point, and the writing takes me somewhere else.
      Gilbert says plumb the depths of curiosity. What catches your imagination? Read up on it. Draw ideas from that.
      Please consider reading my books on kindle. The story is true, and in two parts. Writing those was trial by fire! River of January, and River of January: Figure Eight.
      Thanks for your kind words.
      Gail

  2. […] In life, each of us comes to the realization of how paradoxical we inherently are. This realization is only possible when and if we honestly probe all the crevices of our existence. Many are scared to accept their discoveries because they find out that they are persons whose lives are saturated with existential darkness that finds fulfillment only in egoistic existence, even when outwardly they have embraced a holistic vision. This is the story of Thomas Jefferson; a man of great potentials to lift the young America of his day from the shadows of slavery into the dawn of freedom for all. Rather than think globally without borders, he chose to seek out a selfish vision that will benefit the very few. How funny it is that words have their own lives. His “all men are born equal…” has come to be understood in our times to be inclusive of everyone, even though the author was incapable of embracing a universal human rights for all. When we celebrate our heroes, let us resist the temptation to want to whitewash their legacies. It does no one no good when we do that. Their humanity with all its shadows and sunshines must always be accounted for. These are the roads that led them to the places they reside in our memories. Anything less is but a creation of an idol. Idols kill. Icons redeem. Icons speak the truth for they show us everything without editing. Enjoy! https://chumbleg.blog/2019/03/22/he-wrote-for-the-ages/?fbclid=IwAR1y6gVUbU9OBp1r41NBmXaUlHLq1_MW6PK… […]

  3. horror says:

    Do you have any video of that? I’d like to find out some additional information.

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