Curtis Dahlgren
Part 3 of my Jefferson series for new readers (re same 'ol mainstream media)
By Curtis Dahlgren
May 5, 2016

"Apparently there are limits to 'oral history.' For example, most people would prefer to be descendants of a former president, rather than, say, descendants of his halfwit brother." – Ann Coulter, June 21, 2001 ("Sally Does Monticello")

[This is a re-posting of my January 12, 2007 column]

WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH THE RABID HABIT OF POST-SPEECH "ANALYSES." Not that I watch TV anymore, but if they haven't gotten around to it yet, the networks could soon run "scrolls" at the bottom of the screen during speeches with their own words – a running commentary on what the speaker is really saying and/or what he "should have said."

If there had been TV coverage and closed-captioning in the days of Thomas Jefferson, this is how his second inaugural address may have been broadcast (with the words of the networks in red):

PROCEEDING, FELLOW-CITIZENS, to that qualification which the Constitution requires before my entrance on the charge again conferred on me, it is my duty to express the deep sense I entertain of this new proof of confidence from my fellow-citizens at large, and the zeal with which it inspires me so to conduct myself as may satisfy their just expectations.

He stole election!

On taking this station on a former occasion I declared the principles on which I believed it my duty to administer the affairs of our Commonwealth. My conscience tells me I have on every occasion acted up to that declaration according to its obvious import and the understanding of every candid mind.

That's not what our polls tell us!

In the transaction of your foreign affairs we have endeavored to cultivate the friendship of all nations, and especially of those with which we have the most important relations. We have done them justice on all occasions, favored where favor was lawful, and cherished mutual interests and intercourse on fair and equal terms. We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with individuals our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral duties, and history bears witness to the fact that a just nation is trusted on its word when recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others.

That's not what our Muslim friends on the Barbary Coast say; they say, "Jefferson lies, so you must die!"

At home, fellow-citizens, you best know whether we have done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our internal taxes. These, covering our land with officers and opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which once entered is scarcely to be restrained from reaching successively every article of property and produce.

But how are we going to PAY for those tax cuts?

. . . it may be the pleasure and the pride of an American to ask, What farmer, what mechanic, what laborer ever sees a taxgatherer of the United States?

It's about time we started taxing those rich farmers!

In time of war, if injustice by ourselves or others must sometimes produce war, increased as the same revenue be by increased population and consumption, and aided by other resources reserved for that crisis, it may meet within the year all the expenses of the year without encroaching on the rights of future generations by burthening them with the debts of the past.

What burden on future generations? There is no fiscal crisis!

. . . I know that the acquisition of Louisiana has been disapproved by some from a candid apprehension that the enlargement of our territory would endanger its union. But who can limit the extent to which the federative principle may operate effectively? The larger our association the less will it be shaken by local passions . . .

Jefferson is trying to create an Empire!

. . . and in any view is it not better that the opposite bank of the Mississippi should be settled by our own brethren and children than by strangers of another family?

There he goes again with that Euro-centricism!

. . . In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction of the church [OR] state authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.

The Supreme Court will soon drive all that pathetic stuff underground anyway!

The aboriginal inhabitants of these [Territories] I have regarded with the commiseration their history inspires. Endowed with the faculties and the rights of men, breathing an ardent love of liberty and independence, and occupying a country which left them no desire but to be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing population from other regions directed itself on these shores; without power to divert or habits to contend against it, they have been overwhelmed by the current or driven before it; now reduced within limits too narrow for the hunter's state, humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture and the domestic arts; to encourage them to that industry which alone can enable them to maintain their place in existence and to prepare them in time for that state of society which to bodily comforts adds the improvement of the mind and morals. We have therefore liberally furnished them with the implements of husbandry and household use; we have placed among them instructors in the arts of first necessity, and they are covered with the aegis of the law against aggressors from among themselves.

He just called them aborigines! That's an impeachable offense!

. . . During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare.

And now he's bashing the Fifth Column – umm, the Fourth Estate!

These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.

First Amendment, First Amendment, First Amendment!

They might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved to and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation, but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation.

He's beholden to the vast right-wing conspiracy! He's a dictator!

Nor was it uninteresting to the world that an experiment should be fairly and fully made, whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth – whether a government conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can be written down by falsehood and defamation.

I think he just bashed us again!

The experiment has been tried; you have witnessed the scene; our fellow-citizens looked on, cool and collected; they saw the latent source from which these outrages proceeded; they gathered around their public funtionaries, and when the Constitution called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced their verdict . . .

He stole the election!

No inference is here intended that the laws provided by the States against false and defamatory publications should not be enforced; he who has time renders a service to public morals and public tranquility in reforming these abuses by the salutary coercions of the law; but the experiment is noted to prove that, since truth and reason have maintained their ground against false opinions in league with false facts, the press, confined to truth, needs no other legal restraint; the public judgment will correct false reasonings and opinions on a full hearing of all parties; and no other definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness . . .

Wait until McCain, Feingold, the FCC, and the IRS crack down on grassroots organizations that challenge our monopoly on news!

Contemplating the union of sentiment now manifested so generally as auguring harmony and happiness to our future course, I offer to our country sincere congratulations. With those, too, not yet rallied to the same point the disposition to do so is gaining strength; facts are piercing through the veil drawn over them . . .

"Facts" are all relative. Except OURS, of course!

. . and our doubting brethren will at length see that the mass of their fellow-citizens with whom they can not yet resolve to act as to principles and measures, think as they think and desire what they desire; that our wish as well as theirs is that the public efforts may be directed honestly to the public good, that peace be cultivated, civil and religious liberty unassailed, law and order preserved, equality of rights maintained, and the state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry or that of his father's . .

It's high time to jack up those inheritance taxes!

In the meantime let us cherish them with patient affection, let us do them justice, and more than justice, in all competitions of interest, and we need not doubt that truth, reason, and their own interests will at length prevail, will gather them into the fold of their country, and will complete that entire union of opinion which gives to a nation the blessing of harmony and the benefit of all its strength.

Is he talking about Reaganomics?

I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow-citizens have again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit of those principles which they have approved. I fear not that any motives of interest may lead me astray; I am sensible of no passion which could seduce me knowingly from the path of justice, but the weaknesses of human nature and the limits of my own understanding will produce errors of judgment sometimes injurious to your interests.

NOW you're talking!

I shall need, therefore, all the indulgence which I have heretofore experienced from my constituents; the want of it will certainly not lesson with increasing years.

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what he's saying even!


Call the ACLU – QUICK! – Jefferson just uttered a prayer on public property! He'll never serve out a full term this time!

[Second inaugural address, March 4, 1805, emphasis and comments mine.]

Jefferson's own words betray a man who believed in a guiding God, an all-wise God, a God Who blesses, a God who created and sustains the universe, Who was the Source of our liberties and rights, and Who also judges (Jefferson even used the word "conscience")!

That's a far cry from the Jefferson grudgingly mentioned in our public schools today – the so-called "deist" who didn't believe in an "active" God, the so-called philanderer with slaves, etc., etc. And too many so-called Christians have fallen for the defamation of the licentious Establishment press and educrats, failing to defend the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Some of the reluctance to defend him is attributable to the Sally Hemings myths propagated by defenders of modern philanderers, and history revisionists. Ann Coulter says that that 1998 "revelation" ("Jefferson Fathered Slave's Last Child") prompted a giddy string of newspaper editorials attacking the Founding "Father," telling more than they actually KNEW about the real Jefferson.

Coulter wrote, "Two months after the report's 'findings' had been published in every news outlet where English is spoken, a correction had to be issued. [Author Joseph] Ellis' coauthor pathologist Eugene Foster – the actual scientist – admitted to the British science journal Nature that they had not proved Thomas Jefferson fathered any children by Sally Hemings . . . The press was not as interested in the 'we lied' correction as it had been in the original defamatory (and false) charge. Less than half a dozen newspapers admitted that the report had traced the paternity of Heming's last child to any one of several Jefferson males" [thus the half-wit brother quotation].

Isn't it a paradox that more than 200 years after Jefferson's inaugural complaints about a licentious press that they are still sniping at his heels with "false opinions in league with false facts"?

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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