Democrats have long heralded Thomas Jefferson (along with Andrew Jackson) as the founder of their Party. i They traditionally hold annual Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraising dinners, and President Obama is one of their most sought after speakers. But this past year, Democrats began to remove any mention of Jefferson’s name from their functions. ii They claim that this is because Jefferson was a bigoted racist, iii but this excuse is historically inaccurate, based on an errant modern portrayal. iv
If you doubt this, ask yourself why black civil rights leaders over the past two centuries (such as Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Benjamin Banneker, Francis Grimke, Henry Highland Garnett, and so many others) openly praised Jefferson as a racial civil rights pioneer and champion, v as did abolitionists such as John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and others. viThey recognized that Jefferson led a vocal lifelong campaign to emancipate all slaves in the United States, but that the laws of Virginia prevented him from freeing his own slaves. (All of this is covered in my new book, “The Jefferson Lies.”)
The real reason that Democrats should discard Jefferson is that he held nearly no policy position similar to those Democrats hold today. Consider fifteen major categories where the policies of Presidents Jefferson and Obama are opposite.
1. RADICAL ISLAM AND THE WAR ON TERROR. President Obama’s approach to the War on Terror throughout his two terms has been non-engagement. As described by one national political observer, he “feels the U.S. should do as little as is politically feasible in battling these groups overseas. Bump off some of their bigwigs by drones, bomb them from time to time with air strikes and provide a bit of training and military assistance to their foes.” vii In attempting to negotiate and pacify rather than annihilate and defeat, he has spent $779 billion on the War on Terror, viii making it a big-ticket item in his administration.
When President Jefferson took office in 1801, he had been personally dealing with Muslim nations for almost two decades, and the terrorism issue was also a big-ticket item for him as well: twenty percent of the federal budget was being spent to mollify radical Islamicists. ix
By way of background, in 1784 shortly after the close of the American Revolution, Congress dispatched Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin as diplomats x to negotiate with five Muslim nations attacking American ships and citizens in the Mediterranean area xi (the same general region where conflict is still occurring today). At that time, America had no military capable of traveling overseas to destroy the seedbed of the war-mongering Islamicists plaguing Americans, so America resorted to large payments of money and goods in attempts to purchase peace and end the attacks. This unhappy policy, adopted under the Confederation Congress, continued under President George Washington.
Washington expressed his open frustration with this approach, declaring:
Would to Heaven we had a navy able to reform those enemies to mankind, or crush them into non-existence. xii
As he neared the close of his presidency, he requested that Congress appropriate money to build a navy capable of traveling to the Mediterranean to smash the Islamicists. xiii Congress did, and the navy was constructed under President John Adams, xiv who became known as “The Father of the Navy.” xv But Adams refused to use the new navy, continuing the payments instead.
When Jefferson became president, his long experience with Muslim leaders and nations taught him there were three possible solutions: (1) continue to rely on negotiations and diplomacy, which also required large concessions of rights and payments of monies in hopes of placating the terrorists, (2) limit American lifestyles and activities by keeping American business interests and shipping out of that predominately Muslim part of the world (which would destroy American commerce), or (3) use decisive military force to put an end to the attacks. xvi Jefferson discarded the first option out of hand:
I was very unwilling that we should acquiesce in the . . . humiliation of paying a tribute to those lawless pirates. xvii
Jefferson had earlier concluded that the second option was bad policy, explaining:
The persons and property of our citizens are entitled to the protection of our government in all places where they may lawfully go. xviii
He favored the third option:
I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace through the medium of war. xix The power of making war often prevents it, and in our case would give efficacy to our desire of peace. xx
There were several reasons Jefferson believed this option was the best policy:
Justice is in favor of this opinion; honor favors it; it will procure us respect in Europe (and respect is a safeguard to interest) . . . [and] I think it least expensive [and] equally effectual. xxi
Understanding that it was time to end terrorist attacks against American persons and interests, he deployed an expeditionary force under General William Eaton and Commodore Edward Preble to exterminate the radical Islamicists. xxii The terrorists, after five years of being pounded by American military superiority, decided the price they were paying was too high and thus signed a treaty of peace. xxiii
Interestingly, Jefferson understood that in dealing with Islamicists, a drawdown of American forces was bad policy – that an insufficient application of American strength would cause the enemy to escalate their attacks. He therefore initiated a military surge, explaining to Congress:
There was reason . . . to apprehend that the warfare in which we were engaged with Tripoli [Libya] might be taken up by some others of the Barbary Powers [Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, Turkey, et. al]. A reinforcement therefore was immediately ordered. xxiv
He also related to Congress an account of how an Islamic warship had attacked a much smaller American vessel and the result was “a heavy slaughter of her [Islamicist] men, without the loss of a single one on our part.” xxv He observed:
The bravery exhibited by our citizens on that element will, I trust, be a testimony to the world that it is not the want of that virtue which makes us seek their peace but a conscientious desire to direct the energies of our nation to the multiplication of the human race and not to its destruction. xxvi
We sought peace not because we were weak (as had been the American situation for the previous two decades) but rather because our use of superior military force drove the Islamicists to peace, thus ending further human devastation at their hands. We were willing to take lawless lives in order to save countless times more innocent ones. Waging war in this situation was thus humanitarian.
Obama holds the opposite view. His refusal to use military force has led to an increasingly strong Iran xxvii(the chief global sponsor of terrorism xxviii) as well as the explosive growth of ISIS, xxix which has been responsible for thousands of civilian murders. xxx ISIS acknowledges that the only army it fears is that of Israel, xxxiand consequently it has largely refrained from martyring Jews (although it loudly blusters about doing so xxxii) But fearing nothing from America, it openly martyrs Christians. (It is a lesson of note that when ISIS murdered Egyptian Coptic Christians, Egypt responded promptly and with decisive military force xxxiii and further martyrdoms halted.)
Jefferson’s use of unequivocal military force against terrorists brought America its first respite in the decades old Islamic attacks but Obama’s refusal to do so has caused the numbers of murders committed by Islamicists to soar. President Obama would have done well to have heeded Jefferson’s observation that:
[H]istory bears witness to the fact that a just nation is taken on its word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others. xxxiv
2. THE “RELIGION OF PEACE.” President Obama (and other Democratic leaders) often repeat the platitude that Islam is a “religion of peace.” xxxv They therefore place its adherents into positions of influence within the Obama administration, xxxviincluding even those from the Muslim Brotherhood, xxxvii which is recognized as the radical wing of Islam that fuels many of its most violent adherents. xxxviii
President Jefferson did not believe that Islam was a religion of peace. He personally learned this from the mouth of its own leaders, and from Islam’s own writings. In 1786 (two years after Congress dispatched him to negotiate with leaders of the terrorists), he and John Adams approached the Muslim Ambassador, inquiring as to the reason behind the unprovoked attacks against America. According to Jefferson:
We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. xxxix
So why were the Islamicists so fixated on attacking Americans even though America had done nothing against them?
The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their prophet [Mohammed], that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise. xl
It was Muslim leaders who told Jefferson that Islam was not intrinsically a religion of peace. Certainly, not all of its adherents were as warlike as the religion itself had historically tended to be (after all, there had been individual Muslims living in America since 1619 xli ), but wherever Islam was dominant in a nation or a region, lasting peace seldom accompanied it. As the Ambassador affirmed, war was the one sure guarantee of spiritual salvation for Muslims, so they had a compelling spiritual motivation to engage in perpetual violence.
One way for Americans in Jefferson’s day (and today also) to determine for themselves whether the Ambassador’s claim was true was by reading the Quran for themselves, so the first American edition of the Quran was published during the Jefferson administration. xlii The editor’s preface promised that once Americans had read it for themselves, “Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the better part of the world and wilt avouch that the knowledge of what is contained in this book [the Koran] will render that [Islamic] law contemptible.” xliii
Jefferson believed what Islamicists said about their religion and acted accordingly. Obama dismisses the same claims as mere hyperbole and tries to explain why Islamicists do not really mean what they say and why we should ignore what they do.
iOriginally listed at Democratic National Committee, “Brief History of the Democratic Party” (at http://www.democrats.org/about/history.html). That page has now been pulled from the national Democrat website but has been preserved in published books showing that webpage. See, for example, David Barton, Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White (Aledo: WallBuilders Press, 2004), p. 14.
iiSee, for example, “Connecticut Dems strip Jefferson, Jackson names from fundraising dinner,” FoxNews, July 23, 2015, and many others
iiiSee, for example, “Connecticut Dems remove Thomas Jefferson from dinner name over slavery,” The Hill, July 23, 2015, and many others.
ivSee David Barton, The Jefferson Lies (WND Books, 2016), pp. 119-120.
vSee The Jefferson Lies, pp. 119-150.
viSee, for example, John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on The Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837 (Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), p. 50; The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Roy P. Basler, editor (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), Vol. 3, p. 124, “Third Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Jonesboro, Illinois,” September 15, 1858 (quoting a Congressional resolution); Abraham Lincoln, “Special Session Message,” The American Presidency Project, July 4, 1861; Abraham Lincoln: Complete Works, John G. Nicolay & John Hay, editors (New York: The Century Co., 1894), Vol. 1, pp. 532-533, to H. L. Pierce and Others, April 6, 1859; Vol. 1, pp. 608-609, “Address at Cooper Institute,” February 27, 1860.
viiSteve Forbes, “Obama Has No Heart For the War on Terrorism,” Forbes, January 21, 2015.
viiiKimberly Amadeo, “War on Terror: Facts, Costs, Timeline,” aboutnews, November 23, 2015.
ixIn 1795, entering the final year of George Washington’s presidency, the total had reached sixteen percent of the federal budget (U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, “Historical Statistics of the United States” (New York: Kraus International Publications, 1989), Part 2, p. 1104). It had climbed to twenty percent by the time Jefferson took office six years later (“First Barbary War,” Wikipedia (accessed on January 15, 2016)).
xThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. V, p. 195, to William Carmichael on November 4, 1785. See also Garner W. Allen, Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1905) p. 28.
xiThose five nations were Tunis, Morocco, Algiers, Turkey, and Tripoli – North African and Mediterranean nations. Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Claude A. Swanson, editor (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1939), Vol. 1, pp. 1-6, to Thomas Jefferson from Richard O’Brien, June 8, 1786. See also, A General View of the Rise, Progress, and Brilliant Achievements of the American Navy Down to the Present Time, (Brooklyn, 1828) pp. 70-71; “Barbary Pirates,” The Encyclopedia Britannica, Hugh Chisholm, editor (New York: The Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 1910), p. 383.
xiiGeorge Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1835), Vol. IX, p. 194, to Marquis de Lafayette, August 15, 1786.
xiiiJ. Fenimore Cooper, The History of the Navy of the United States of America (Philadelphia: Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., 1847), pp. 123-124. See alsoA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents: 1789-1897, James D. Richardson, editor (Washington, D. C.: Published by Authority of Congress, 1897), Vol. I, p. 193, from Washington’s “Eighth Annual Address,” December 7, 1796.
xivDictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (1968), Vol. III, pp. 521-523, “John Adams,” Hazegrey.org, (accessed on January 15, 2016).
xvDictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (1968), Vol. III, pp. 521-523, “John Adams,” Hazegrey.org, (accessed on January 15, 2016).
xviThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. V, p. 327, to Colonel Monroe, May 10, 1786.
xviiThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. I, p. 97, from Jefferson’s Autobiography.
xviiiThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, H.A. Washington, editor (Washington, D. C.: Taylor & Maury, 1854), Vol. VII, p. 624, “Opinion Relative to Granting of Passports to American Vessels,” May 3, 1793.
xixThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. V, p. 364, to John Adams, July 11, 1786.
xxThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. VII, p. 224, to General Washington, December 4, 1788.
xxiThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. V, p. 365, to John Adams, July 11, 1786.
xxiiSee, for example, “The First Barbary War,” Monticello (accessed on January 15, 2016); “The Barbary Wars, 1801-1805,” The Mariners’ Museum, 2000; Charles Prentiss, The Life of the Late Gen. William Eaton; Several Years an Officer in the United States’ Army, Consul at the Regency of Tunis on the Coast of Barbary, and Commander of the Christian and Other Forces That Marched from Egypt Through the Desert of Barca, in 1805, and Conquered the City of Derne, Which Led to the Treaty of Peace Between the United States and the Regency of Tripoli; Principally Collected from His Correspondence and Other Manuscripts (Brookfield: E. Merriam & Co., 1813).
xxiiiYale Law School, “Treaty of Peace and Amity, Signed at Tripoli June 4, 1805,” The Avalon Project.
xxivThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, H. A. Washington, editor (Washington, D. C.: Taylor & Maury, 1854), Vol. VIII, p. 17, “Second Annual Message,” December 15, 1802.
xxvThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, H. A. Washington, editor (Washington, D. C.: Taylor & Maury, 1854), Vol. VIII, p. 8, “First Annual Message,” December 8, 1801.
xxviThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, H. A. Washington, editor (Washington, D. C.: Taylor & Maury, 1854), Vol. VIII, p. 8, “First Annual Message,” December 8, 1801.
xxviiSee, for example, Charles Krauthammer, “Defy America, Pay No Price,” National Review, January 7, 2016.
xxviiiMelanie Batley, “Intel Chief Agrees With GOP: Iran ‘Foremost Sponsor’ of Terrorism,” Newsmax, June 12, 2015.
xxixMario Loyola, “NYT: How Obama Contributed to the Rise of ISIS,” National Review, August 12, 2014.
xxxNick Wing & Carina Kolony, “15 Shocking Numbers That Will Make You Pay Attention To What ISIS Is Doing in Iraq,” Huffington Post, December 14, 2015; Abdelhalk Mamoun, “30,000-50,000 number of ISIS elements in Mosul,” Iraqi News, January 7, 2015; Samuel Smith, “UN Report on ISIS: 24,000 Killed, Injured by Islamic State; Children Used as Soldiers, Woman Sold as Sex Slaves,” The Christian Post, January 15, 2016.
xxxi“Israel is the only country ISIS fears,” IBC World News, January 4, 2016.
xxxiiSee, for example, Lev Selmon, “Islamic State vows to reach ‘Palestine’ and ‘kill the barbaric Jews’,” The Jerusalem Post, August 30, 2015 (at: http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Islamic-State-vows-to-reach-Palestine-and-kill-the-barbaric-Jews-372796); Mary Chastain, “Islamic State to Join Palestine to Fight the ‘Barbaric Jews’,” Breitbart, August 1, 2014 (at: http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2014/08/01/islamic-state-to-join-palestine-to-fight-the-barbaric-jews/); “ISIS directly threatens Jews as Israel remains vigilant and watchful of the terrorist threat at its borders,” United With Israel, January 4, 2015 (at: http://unitedwithisrael.org/isis-tweets-death-to-jews/); and so forth.
xxxiiiDavid K. Li, “Egypt attacks ISIS hours after release of beheading video,” New York Post, February 16, 2015.
xxxivThomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, H. A. Washington, editor (New York: H. W. Derby, 1861), Vol. VIII, p. 40, “Second Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1805.
xxxvChris Perez, “Obama Defends the ‘True Peaceful Nature of Islam’,” New York Post, February 18, 2015.
xxxvi“Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrates Obama Administration,” Investor’s Business Daily, December 5, 2013; Anthony Martin, “Report – Obama Quietly Appoints Muslim Brotherhood to Key Posts,” Examiner, February 15, 2011.
xxxvii“U.K. Condemns Muslim Brotherhood, While White House Hosts It,” Investor’s Business Daily, December 29, 2015; Bob Unruh, “General: Muslim Brotherhood Inside Obama Administration,” World Net Daily, January 9, 2014.
xxxviiiTodd Beamon, “UK Declares Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Group, Breaks With Obama,” Newsmax, December 22, 2015; “FBI Chief: Muslim Brotherhood Supports Terrorism,” IPT News, February 11, 2011.
xxxixThomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton University Press, 1954), Vol. 9, p. 357, letter from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, American Commissioners, to John Jay on March 28, 1786.
xlThomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton University Press, 1954), Vol. 9, p. 357, letter from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, American Commissioners, to John Jay on March 28, 1786.
xliIt is reported that Muslims were among the first slaves arriving in America, and that up to ten percent of slaves were Muslim. Thomas A. Tweed, “Islam in America: From African Slaves to Malcolm X,” National Humanities Center (Accessed on January 15, 2016).
xliiThe Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mahomet. Translated from the Original Arabick into French, By the Sieur De Ryer, Lord of Malezair, and Resident of the French at Alexandria. The Whole Now Faithfully Translated Into English (Springfield: Henry Brewer, 1806).
xliiiThe Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mahomet. Translated from the Original Arabick into French, By the Sieur De Ryer, Lord of Malezair, and Resident of the French at Alexandria. The Whole Now Faithfully Translated Into English (Springfield: Henry Brewer, 1806), p. iv, “To the Reader.”