The driving force behind a rewriting of the legacies of these two great presidents revolves around the subject of slavery.
To be sure, there is nothing more abominable or obscene in the history of our republic than slavery. Nothing.
That duly acknowledged, it’s irresponsible and problematic to view the lives, accomplishments, sacrifices, and mistakes of men born more than 300 years ago through a clouded and biased prism of today. And yet, that seems to be taking place in a disturbing way at both homes thanks to the dictates of some liberals and Democrats who help run both The Thomas Jefferson Foundation and The National Trust for Historic Preservation which owns Madison’s beloved Montpelier.
Jefferson’s Monticello is being reimagined to “finish the restoration of the landscape of slavery” — there is signage and interactive displays which incessantly link Jefferson to that subject. One of the main tours now at his home is entitled: “Slavery at Monticello.” On the website of the internationally famous home, visitors see: “Thomas Jefferson wrote that ‘all men are created equal,’ and yet enslaved more than 600 people over the course of his life.”
Visitors at Monticello are now greeted by a faceless black man framed in a very large painting which was commissioned in honor of Juneteenth. Complementing that artwork are books sold on the Monticello property by critical race proponents like Ibram X. Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as several non-fiction works on Jefferson’s slaves. Where the homes once listed job descriptions of servants, all are now preceded by the word “Enslaved.”
President John F. Kennedy seemed to view Jefferson differently in 1962 when he said at the White House in honor of Nobel Prize winners: “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever gathered together at The White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” Now, some want the vision, genius, and courage of Jefferson minimized or outright dismissed in favor of imprecise or incorrect images being projected through the biased prisms of today as his name is elsewhere being smeared, his statues removed, and his name taken off various buildings and schools.
The same treatment goes for James Madison — only the man known as “The Father of the Constitution” and who was the force behind the Federalist papers and the Bill of Rights. Yet, in his own home, he is now labeled “The Enslaver.”
The homes of Jefferson and Madison being reimagined begs the obvious question, “Which Founding Father is next?”
As I wrote in my recently released book which aims to prevent the cancellation of our Founding Fathers and the 4th of July, we must engage in honest and civil discussions regarding the disgraceful practice of slavery. But, as we do so, we should not forget some of the contradictions or indeed, empathy, of flawed human beings engaged in a tragically common practice of their time.
As has been reported, much of the reinvention of Monticello and Montpelier seems to be funded by Democrat billionaire David Rubenstein.While he is seemingly helping fund the dismantling of the reputation of Jefferson and Madison, Rubenstein seemed to be bullish regarding economic investments in China — a communist country which does enslave, torture, and execute innocent men, women, and children. To wit, here’s Rubenstein at a recent World Economic Forum: “In the long term, China has a very bright economic outlook, it has a large population, very hardworking people, well-educated and so forth.”
With the move to turn Monticello against Jefferson and Montpelier against Madison, it is clear that those on the left who cancel American history, topple statues, and sandblast our Founding Fathers’ names off schools and universities are upping their intolerance game.
As we debate our history, it is still our duty to speak up in defense of our Founding Fathers whose vision, genius, and courage created the greatest nation on the face of the earth.