Saturday, July 7, 2012

History or Legend?

A Love Story or Chronicle of Child Abuse?

Tom Jefferson loved Liberty, 
But not for Sally Hemings.
When ideals crossed Salacity, 
He had no use for them things.
Yet, Hist’ry credits Thomas 
With helping us be free
By keeping his great Promise
To break with Royalty.
So, we’ve ignored Miss Hemings,
Until quite recently,
And flocked to Tom like lemmings
To worship dutifully.
But, Sally’s never gone away.
And risen from their graves
Her progeny’s old DNA
Has proven through great bother
Tom was the likely father
Of Sally’s little slaves.

~ § ~
~ FreeThinke - 6/7/12


  1. Unfortunately the author of our Declaration of Independence was unable to fully and without any hypocrisy live TRUE his words.

    As a admirer of Jefferson in the pure philosophical sense I have struggled greatly trying to understand his all too human failings.

    And... what a beautiful young lady...

  2. In my experience, those whom we choose as idols always have feet of clay -- in one way or another.

    I'll never forget how disappointed I was to learn that Helen Keller was basically a Communist. In many ways, her life serves as a wonderful example, and she also wrote some beautiful poems and essays.

    And Abraham of the Old Testament basically went a-whoring after Hagar. King David plotted the murder of a man to get his wife.

  3. "The evil that men do lives after them.
    The good is oft interred with their bones."

    Standards shift radically from era to era and from location to location.

    As my Sophomore English teacher said so many aeons ago, "Normal is whatever the majority in a particular group in a particular place at a particular time says it is."

    In addition to the familiar quotation from Julius Caesar cited above Shakespeare also said, "There is nothing either right or wrong but thinking makes it so." [emphasis added]

    ~ FreeThinke

  4. I strongly suspect Helen Keller may have been largely the creation of Ann Sullivan Macey, AOW. Maybe she had a mind of he own -- and maybe all she had was whatever Annie PUT into her head. I doubt if we'll never know for sure.

    ~ FT

  5. Be intellectually honest here FT.

    Thomas Jefferson's sex life is conjecture. The bulk of the evidence points to his brother as the father. There are 26 different Jeffersons' who could have fathered that child with the DNA evidence. The man who started the rumor was a disaffected public worker who wanted to be postmaster.

  6. AOW,

    and yet David was considered a man after God's own heart. The difference of course was that he recognized his own sin (after being reminded by Nathan) and repented.

  7. Elbro,

    I wish you had actually read -- and digested -- the post instead of going off half-cocked.

    I was a little rough on you over at Western Hero. I'm sorry about that, but I was correct in thinking you failed to catch the whimsy in and the tongue-in-cheek nature of this post.

    My having put these thoughts in rhyme -- especially rhyming "Hemings" with "them things" -- should have indicated to you the humorous intent of this item.

    I've been participating at various blogs for more than ten years. And have come to the conclusion that most of us have become too deadly serious to be taken seriously. The atmosphere in these places becomes strained, participants take themselves much too seriously, tempers flare over trivialities, feuds start over nothing, egos get badly bruised, feelings hurt, friendships lost, and for what?

    I can't see that any constructive changes have been made in society as a result of what-has-become a set of symptoms indicative of a psychological disorder.

    I hope to use art, music, poetry, drama, satire, extensive quotations from philosophers, politicians, historical figures and leaders in many different fields and -- yes -- fantasy not to tell people what to think but more to spur and encourage them to think.

    All opinions are welcome here, and will not be condemned. I don't believe in scolding guests, though a friendly trading of insults on occasion should not be mistaken for insolence or cruelty.

    The only things I will not tolerate are persistent baiting -- stalking individuals with intent to "get their goat," –– and obvious attempts to hog attention for no other purpose than getting and holding attention.

    I don't care if people swear or use four-letter words. Those words have no power other than that which we ascribe to them. However, persistent, repetitive use of coarse, vulgar language is boring in the extreme, so I don't want to encourage it.

    Things people say offend me deeply all the time, but I don't believe it's appropriate to shriek and howl and moan and groan about it.

    If Jesus can forgive his murderers from the Cross, surely I can forgive -- or at least strive to ignore -- obnoxious behavior and ignoble sentiments on the part of others.

    Anyway, please come back. You might find you actually could enjoy yourself here. I certainly hope so.

    ~ FreeThinke

  8. EB,
    David recognized his own sin (after being reminded by Nathan) and repented.

    Yes, but David sought the Lord all of his life.

    Did Thomas Jefferson do that?

    The bulk of the evidence points to [Thomas Jefferson's] brother as the father.

    I'm not much on keeping up with the salacious doings of anyone. That said, I did read somewhere that Jefferson's brother was an outrageous "skirt chaser," a polite term that my father used to employ.

    I don't know that Thomas Jefferson was a skirt chaser. If he was, I've not heard of it.

  9. FT,
    Annie Sullivan was my earliest role model. I doubt that I need to explain further as you already know that I'm a teacher.

    Anyway, I like this saying: "Take what you need, and leave the rest."

    To use the language of the Bible (KJV):

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    - Philippians 4:8

    Thomas Jefferson, whatever his flaws, did make a significant contribution to what we often call "American principles." Of course, that does not mean that he was perfect.

    It is quite shocking to think that he'd take sexual advantage of a female slave.

    Thus is the plight of mankind: "There is none righteous, no not one."


    I've been participating at various blogs for more than ten years. And have come to the conclusion that most of us have become too deadly serious to be taken seriously.

    Ain't that the truth?

    Just yesterday, a certain commenter at my site jumped all over me regarding my post yesterday -- one of my impromptu posts and not a "scheduled" one. Hell, that video I posted could well be an SNL skit, but could that commenter see that my quip was satirical and full of dry humor (albeit dark humor)? Nope.

    Why are so many people so much on edge all the damn time?

    Sure, I get pissed off, too. You've seen it from me, probably more often than I should have let show.

    But I wouldn't say that I stay on edge. Sheesh. That is no way to LIVE!

    And I certainly don't go looking for reasons to get all irate.

  10. FT,
    BTW, EB is "a nice guy." What you might call a fundamentalist Christian because his moral views are "straight arrow."

    However, he is generous and kind to others. He has "been there" to comfort me and to pray with me whenever I've phoned him (or he has phoned me).

    I know a little about his sense of humor but will not share details in a public forum.

  11. We are all human, and imagine if the founders, indeed all of us, dropped our ideals because we could not consistently attain them.

    Just imagine if they and we instead gave ourselves over to depravity and the worst demons of our souls.

    Would that make it better?

    At least we wouldn't be hypocrites...

  12. @ Silver: Indeed one should live by their principals. For to do otherwise is weakness as well as hypocritical.

    Having said this was it strength or weakness that a man I have consistently admired, Thomas Jefferson was unable to free his slaves until after his death?

    Changing times and circumstances require, at least IMHO, that one remain open to new ideas and methods. After all that is what drove the founding fathers to define the great republic they passed on to us.

    Certain principles are timeless, and they remain so because they can be rationally and objectively applied to changes circumstances so as to meet the needs of the changing times. All this without losing their inherent truths.

    Think of rational, objective change, often driven by expanded knowledge given us by the many disciplines of science and philosophy as the advancement of humankind. For to believe otherwise is to relegate the human race to only that which is present and past. Something I am certain our enlightened founders would find unacceptable were they alive today.

  13. I apologize for my verbosity.

    The sudden and shocking revelation several years ago that Thomas Jefferson had sexual relations with his slave Sally Hemings was a stroke of genius for those who wished to demean our founding fathers. They did a similar thing with George Washington. How dare those founding fathers live within the confines of their time! Here is a dose of reality: Great Britain ended slavery in 1840 as part of the Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833. In essence, twenty years separated the emancipation of blacks in Great Britain and the United States. Arguing would have/could have is a waste of our time.

    In spite of the manufactured outrage and “anger” within the black community and stoned white liberals, history is what it is. History is always interesting, always worthy as a teaching moment, but it is always gone from us. I am no apologist for Thomas Jefferson, but I think there is a human aspect to this story, even if I am unable to provide citations that prove its veracity. I will only say that its implications are touching …

    Jefferson came by his slaves through his wife, Martha. He inherited these people when Martha passed away in 1782. Sally was the child of Martha’s father John, and a slave named Betty Hemings. She was, therefore, Martha’s half sister. And it is my understanding that Sally was the spitting image of Martha. It is therefore understandable, given Thomas’ grief upon the death of his beloved Martha, how he could eventually become attracted to Martha’s near twin.

    Sally went to France with Jefferson’s daughter, Mary (Polly). Historians tell us that France is where the sexual congress between Thomas and Sally began. At this time, France did not countenance human bondage; Sally could have easily slipped out of the house and demanded her freedom from the French government. She did not do that. This could suggest that Sally loved Thomas, or that she at least determined to remain with him.

    Jefferson did free Sally’s surviving children as they became of age; three of those entered white society as adults. Today, we regard their descendants as “white.” Why this should even matter is beyond me. Now let us wonder why Thomas Jefferson would dismiss a woman who reminded him of his wife, and who we might assume he loved very much. Any debate seems asinine on its face. However, after Jefferson’s death, Jefferson’s daughter (Sally’s niece), withheld Sally from auction and gave her freedom. This is hardly an ogre story. I recommend that those who wish to criticize Jefferson try to understand the realities of 18th and 19th Century America. After imagining themselves in Thomas Jefferson’s position, what would they have done differently?

  14. Thank you very much for that thoughtful, informative post, Mustang. I very much appreciate your stopping by here. We don't have any pictures of the real Sally Hemings, but I too had heard most of the information you reported, and agree with most of your opinions.

    Yes judging historical figures by contemporary standards -- as though "they just ought to have known better" -- is as unfair as it is unprofitable.

    Sally Hemings was, indeed, the half sister of Martha Wayles Skelton, Jefferson's wife who very sadly lived only a short while after they married.

    From everything I've ever read or heard about him Jefferson was a wonderful man - a true Renaissance man in fact -- multi-talented, multi-faceted, with many and varied interests. A brilliant, thoughtful, high achieving person who gave more to life than he took from it.

    Whenever I read from his writings my admiration just grows.

    People forget too that it was quite "normal" for girls to be married off at the age of 14 or 15 in those days. Many young women of that era had born three or four children by age 20. Also, if we are to believe Margaret Mitchell, if a girl had not married by the time she was 20, she was considered an Old Maid -- "cracked and drying" to use Mitchell's description of poor, desperately unattractive India Wilkes.

    Mr. Jefferson was mortal and therefore fallible, of course, but who among us is not?

    I'm a decent enough person to be able to say with confidence that I would never be the one to "cast the first stone" -- even at the likes of Obama . ;-)

    Please visit us again. We need you.


    ~ FreeThinke



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