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Response to Bonobo (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 03:02 AM

35. Yeah, and y'all would positivley FREAK at Jefferson's Facebook page.....

It's kinda difficult to use 21st century standards on 18th century anglo white guys.

With permission from the author, I am going to publish a piece of dialogue between a 75 year old retired President Thomas Jefferson and an accidental (and temporary) friend almost 200 years later. It's pure fantasy, of course, but it does highlight the point-there's no way one can't call Jefferson enlightened FOR HIS TIME, as, I think the op implied from the beginning. FYI, the book isn't out yet.--------------

Jefferson pondered. “I had only ten years with my Martha. She died before her thirty-fourth birthday. I was devastated. I must have spent three weeks inside a room in utter despair. Much later, I took up with someone that was completely illicit, at least in my day.”

“It’s all right, Mr. President, we all know about Sally Hemings, and don’t consider it a stain on your legacy at all.”

Jefferson looked stunned. “Really? You all know about Sally? Please don’t even tell me how. I don’t want to know. You can’t imagine what a scandalous thing this is in my time. Our country, then, has truly become the beacon of enlightenment we hoped--Franklin, Madison, the others.”

“Well, not entirely, I’m afraid,” I answered. “There are still strong, even violent forces of reaction that would bring the country back to the days when people were burned at the stake for such things. But they are a distinct minority, to be sure.” I didn’t want to get into the Texas School Board. “We even abolished slavery entirely in 1865.”

“It took that long? I failed in my efforts to get slavery abolished over the years, although I still hold some slaves myself to this day. Ironic, isn’t it? Many of us who were part of the beginning of this country envisioned abolishing slavery altogether by 1808. As president, I even signed a law back in 1808 banning the slave trade with Africa. Some of us had hoped to have slavery abolished by then, but we underestimated the resistance from the southern states, whose economies depended upon its continued existence. From what you say, it took far longer than any of us thought it would. I am glad to hear that it was finally done away with, although I imagine it had enormous economic consequences for the southern states. I’m sure some of them must have had a few objections.”

Oh, just a few, yeah. I didn’t comment on that.

He went on, “There will always be a conflict between the forces of free thought and enlightenment against those of glorified ignorance, control and darkness, I suppose,” Jefferson said. “But as long as they are beaten back by the forces of light and truth, they can be a tolerable evil—indeed, perhaps a useful one, so as to point out by example what is not worthy of aspiration and is to be avoided. I gather from what you’re leading up to that you want my opinion as to whether you’re right to consider abandoning your present life for what, to you, would be the more simple life in an era you would find, superficially, at least, to be primitive?”

“That is basically it in a nutshell,” I admitted.

“In a nutshell,” Jefferson repeated. “Nice little expression. You got that from Hamlet?”

“Umm, no, it’s a common phrase in my day. Is it from Hamlet?”

“Originally, yes. It is very apt. The evolution of language is never-ending. I’m glad you’ve given me a glimpse into what’s become of English in America. It certainly has evolved beyond anything we recognize as contemporary, which is only natural. But back to your question. You’ve said you’re married, but that your wife has left you and has petitioned for a legal dissolution of your marriage, correct?”

“Quite correct,” I confirmed.

“This is feasible in your day, and you have lost whatever affection you had for her long before this little marvel here occurred, correct?”

“Correct again.”

“Well, then, I’ll tell you what I think. But let me preface this by saying that I tell you this as one who has taken reckless risks in life. My affair with Sally may not raise eyebrows in your era, but in mine, it would be grounds for shunning me completely or even worse. This doesn’t even take into account the risk we all took in taking up arms to separate from Britain so many years ago. It cost years of hardship, and many lives were either lost or disrupted forever. The human cost was incalculable. What we call the American Revolution is still called the War of Rebellion in England. But the end result was a miraculous political experiment the likes of which has never been seen on this earth, at least not since the age of Pericles. From what you tell me, it has turned out far from perfect, and so is still a work in progress. But it is a never-ending path, the course of human events. Actually, I used that phrase…”

“In the Declaration of Independence,” I completed. “We all learn your words in school: ‘When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…’”

A smile formed on his face, spreading to a wide beaming. “That is one of the most pleasing things I’ve learned from you, Robert. Thank you. You’ve truly made my day.”

I managed—just barely—to keep from chuckling and telling him that “make my day” was a familiar phrase, too, but not because of him. I think I would have had a difficult time explaining Dirty Harry to Thomas Jefferson.

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Bonobo Jun 2013 OP
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LineReply Yeah, and y'all would positivley FREAK at Jefferson's Facebook page.....
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