“A Creepy Brutal Hypocrite”

Published:December 3, 2012 by Brendan Wolfe

Paul Finkelman, who the other day in the New York Times called Thomas Jefferson “one of the most deeply creepy people in American history,” has found occasion to use the c-word again, and again in the Times. This time, he’s writing an Op-Ed on Jefferson in the context of Jon Meacham‘s new biography and Henry Wiencek‘s examination of Jefferson and slavery.

Neither Mr. Meacham, who mostly ignores Jefferson’s slave ownership, nor Mr. Wiencek, who sees him as a sort of fallen angel who comes to slavery only after discovering how profitable it could be, seem willing to confront the ugly truth: the third president was a creepy, brutal hypocrite.

Contrary to Mr. Wiencek’s depiction, Jefferson was always deeply committed to slavery, and even more deeply hostile to the welfare of blacks, slave or free. His proslavery views were shaped not only by money and status but also by his deeply racist views, which he tried to justify through pseudoscience.

IMAGE: Detail of Jefferson portrait on the two-dollar bill