Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath
By Robert Parry
Global Research, July 04, 2014
On July Fourth, the people of the United States extravagantly celebrate the high-blown expressions on human rights that Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence – especially the noble phrase “all men are created equal.” But Jefferson really didn’t believe that or much else that he said and wrote during his lifetime. He was, in reality, a skilled propagandist and a world-class hypocrite.
Yet, rather than subject Jefferson to a rigorous examination for his multiple hypocrisies, many Americans insist on protecting Jefferson’s reputation. From the Left, there is a desire to shield the lofty principles contained in the Declaration. From the Right, there is value in pretending that Jefferson’s revisionist concept of the Constitution – one favoring states’ rights over the federal government – was the “originalist” view of that founding document.
So, Jefferson – perhaps more than any figure in U.S. history – gets a pass for what he really was: a self-absorbed aristocrat who had one set of principles for himself and another for everybody else. Beyond the glaring contradiction between his “all men are created equal” pronouncement and his racist views on African-American slaves, he also lectured others about the need for frugality and the avoidance of debt while he lived a life of personal extravagance and was constantly in arrears to creditors.Jefferson also wrote provocatively that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” That is one of Jefferson’s famous quotes repeated endlessly these days by both the right-wing Tea Party and would-be leftist revolutionaries.
But Jefferson’s bravado was more a rhetorical flourish than a principle that he was ready to live or die by. In 1781, when he had a chance to put his own blood where his mouth was – when a Loyalist force led by the infamous traitor Benedict Arnold advanced on Richmond, Virginia, then-Gov. Jefferson fled for his life on the fastest horse he could find.
Jefferson hopped on the horse and fled again when a British cavalry force under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton approached Charlottesville and Monticello. Gov. Jefferson abandoned his neighbors in Charlottesville and left his slaves behind at Monticello to deal with the notoriously brutal Tarleton.
In other words, Jefferson may have been America’s original “chicken hawk,” talking cavalierly about other people’s blood as the “manure” of liberty but finding his own too precious to risk. Nevertheless, Jefferson later built his political career by questioning the revolutionary commitment of Alexander Hamilton and even George Washington, who repeatedly did risk their lives in fighting for American liberty.