Why I Am No Longer a Jeffersonian

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See this delightful piece of reasoning, with all the moral astuteness of "To make omelettes you must break a few eggs."

from Founding Brothers
Joseph Ellis

[Excerpts from letters to Coxe and William Short]

"The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the contest [the French Revolution]" he observed in 1793, "and was ever such a prize wond with so little blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed I would rather have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and Eve left ine very country, and left free, it would be better than it is now."

[A later comment by Ellis]

But Jefferson was the kind of man who could have passed a lie-detector test confirming his integrity, believing as he did that the supreme significance of his larger cause rendered convention distinctions between truth and falsehood superfluous.

Along with his questionable actions in the treason trial of Aaron Burr, his conduct toward his slaves, etc., I'm finding myself hard-pressed to work up much respect for Jefferson these days. That will change as the data change. But for the time being, I think Jefferson. . . Clinton. . . Jefferson. . . Clinton. . . The latter certainly had an appropriate middle name, did he not?

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That book of Ellis' is a great book, and his treatment of Jefferson shows just how reckless idealists can be with their words. Don't think Jefferson... Clinton... Jefferson... Clinton...; think rather Jefferson... Robespierre... Marx... Lenin... Stalin... Mao... Kim... Nasser... Pol Pot... bin Laden... All men who wanted the good of the people so bad, that they were willing to murder the majority of them in order to obtain it.

Idealism is a great and good thing, a gift of God, but an idealism not consecrated to God is easily corrupted by the devil. The difference between Jefferson and a brutal dictator may well lie in the fact that Jefferson was lucky enough not to be a deist, and not an atheist.

We in the United States were very, *very* lucky with our first leaders: Washington stepped down after two terms; Adams surrendered the presidency when he lost the election; Jefferson respected the Washingtonian precedent, and worked hard to unify the country after a bitter election; Hamilton was decent enough to look past his enmity with Jefferson and choose the good of the country.

Were they perfect men? by no means. Were they saints? Certainly not! Yet reading the history of our country, and learning about the men God used to build her, both their defects and their gifts, it's hard to deny it: God HAS blessed America.

We are a very, VERY lucky nation.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 8, 2004 5:44 PM.

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