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The character of Thomas Jefferson
Posted By Jane Chastain On 01/18/1999 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
When you cut through all the legal gobbledygook and the bending of the English language, President Clinton’s defense boils down to this: It’s all about sex and everybody’s doing it. His scorched earth policy reaches all the way back to our Founding Fathers.
It’s bad enough that much of the accomplishments and sacrifices of these great men has been expunged from our history books, but the history that is being rewritten today is shamefully inaccurate.
On election eve, a Clinton front group called “Historians in Defense of the Constitution” announced it had DNA evidence to prove that Thomas Jefferson fathered a child with a black woman named Sally Hemings.
To be fair, Mr. Clinton’s defenders didn’t dig up the story. They sought to capitalize on it by comparing the DNA of one of Jefferson’s relatives with that of Ms. Hemings’ children and discovered that one of her children, Woodson, did, in fact, have Jefferson genes. It is important to note that they did not prove Mr. Jefferson was the father, only that someone in the Jefferson clan fathered Woodson Hemings. However, they also proved that charges made a couple of decades ago by feminist writers Fawn Brodie and Barbara Chase-Riboud were wrong and the movie, Jefferson in Paris, based on their work, was fiction.
These women spread a story told by the infamous James T. Callender, a man who lived during the time of Jefferson and had served time in the prisons of three countries for libel. He claimed Jefferson fathered Eston Hemings, a child born seven years before Woodson.
Thomas Jefferson most likely was Woodson Hemings’ father, but he wasn’t an adulterer or a philanderer, as Clinton’s cronies would have us believe. In 1772 Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton, and all indications are that he remained true to her during their 10-year marriage. Woodson Hemings was born 26 years after Jefferson became a widower.
At some point, near the end of his presidency, Jefferson is believed to have begun a relationship with Ms. Hemings. She may have been the second love of his life because there is no evidence that Jefferson was linked romantically to anyone else after the death of his wife. Jefferson never denied his relationship with Ms. Hemings and likely would have married her, but at that time the law in Virginia prevented it because she was one-fourth Negro.
The author of our Declaration of Independence believed that “those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.” Jefferson, not only had a strong faith in God, he had a strong faith in self-government. Jeffersonian democracy refers to his ideal society, which was a nation of landowners living under as little government as possible. As you can see, Thomas Jefferson’s character is as far removed from the character of William Jefferson Clinton’s as his politics.
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