Jefferson wasn’t right

The Abbeville Institute, an academic organization with the stated goal to “preserve and present what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition,” recently published an article by Dave Benner defending the legacy of Thomas Jefferson from an attack by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Benner is the author of Compact of the Republic: The League of States and the Constitution.

Benner begins his historical narrative by presenting Virginian James Madison as one of many leaders who were together responsible for the US Constitution; he opposes the “unwarrented” idea of Madison as the Father of the Constitution. Benner also notes that Madison desired a “highly nationalistic government” (conflating nationalism with centralization and statism) and presents the US Constitution, with its alleged checks and balances, as a failure from that point of view.

He continues, noting that Jefferson was mostly satisfied with the Constitution, primarily concerned about its lack of a Bill of Rights (which was added a short time later). In this manner Benner rightly associates Jefferson with Unionism even though he wasn’t instrumental in writing its founding document. He notes that “Jefferson exhibited more support toward the [constitutional] framework than disdain.”

The writer goes on to present Alexander Hamilton as the chief mastermind of consolidation, someone who took what was otherwise a limited and sensible government and gave it undue powers over the States.

Finally, he presents Madison and Jefferson as States’ rights advocates who fought to nullify Federal supremacy – overlooking the fact that both were early US presidents who expanded Federal powers and supported protective tariffs. As Occidental Dissent has pointed out, “Hamiltonianism triumphed because the Jeffersonians enacted Hamilton’s program.”

Throughout the piece we see a narrative presented which looks with favor upon the Constitution, Jeffersonianism and the Union as it existed prior to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. This is consistent with the overall leanings of the Abbeville Institute.

In contrast, I present in my book Our Southern Nation: Its Origin and Future  (American Anglican Press, 2015) evidence that the South’s decision in 1776 and 1789 to throw its lot in with Northern merchants and religious and political radicals was a disaster which doomed Dixie to decades of abuse and finally invasion, destruction and occupation. It was foolish to separate from an empire which granted Southerners enormous economic benefits and political influence in order to form a democratic Union with radicals whose economic, political and cultural interests were opposed to ours. Likewise, Jefferson’s Enlightenment-inspired language in the Declaration of Independence was a disaster which was used to advance egalitarianism and radical republicanism at home and around the globe. By the 1830s Southerners were consciously moving away from Jeffersonianism. I quote prominent Southern leaders and intellectuals denouncing Jefferson’s rhetoric in strong language.

Jefferson was wrong about universal human equality – even if that is not exactly what he had in mind when he falsely claimed that “all men are created equal.” He was wrong in supporting the creation of a Union (in which Southerners were a minority) with those hostile to Southern interests. He was wrong in his support for the French Revolution and the radical republicanism and destructive egalitarianism it unleashed. He was wrong in expanding the powers of the central government, especially in granting it the power to create new States from wilderness, ultimately undermining Southern parity in the Senate. And this is to say nothing of the admittedly brilliant man’s embarasssing personal failing – his long-term relationship with a mulatto slave woman. Jefferson, though a gifted Southern planter and intellectual, was a disaster for Dixie. We can find far better heroes in our past to inspire us – Rhett, Simms, Miles, Fitzhugh, Yancey, Tucker, Wigfall, Keitt, Debow, etc. – who defended Southern interests and advanced Southern nationalism against the hostile Union which Jefferson helped create and empower.

Thomas Jefferson was wrong

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  1. President Jefferson was a classick liberal : dreaming and working for one reality, while living something quite to it’s antithesis.

    Sir, I’ve thought about this long and hard.

    Liberals distinguish themselves through their passion about ideas to empower humanity.

    ‘Ideas about empowering humanity’, however, are not the same as caring about people and doing those things which actually help people help themselves, and letting them fail, if they do not want to.

    The problem for us is the rhetorick gap – developing ways to effectively combat the inherent and beguiling sweetness in the sound of liberalism, when, in fact, much of it
    turns out to be misanthropick, and other parts simply ineffective.

    Until that gap is covered, the ‘One World Universalist Bolshevik ‘Enlightenment’ virus, infesting Jefferson’s ideas, will continue, like kudzoo, to strangle our culture.

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  2. The Union was a capital mistake that ironically, many Southrons, including George Washington, sensed as such. There was alao a nagging suspicion that the North had betrayed the South during the AWI. George Washington: A Life, By Ron Chernow, gives such a sense of the already extant conflict between the two nations.

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    • It had to have been obvious. Question: Is it wise to form a democratic Union with a hostile people who outnumber you? Of course not. The Union that Washington, Jefferson and Madison formed with the Yankees killed a quarter million of our people and destroyed our government. 1776 and 1789 are the worst mistakes in our history. Nothing compares to the magnitude of that folly.

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      • In Washington: A Life, George was a land surveyor who ran for office and became a colonel in a regiment charged with defending the Dixie frontier in western Virginia. He fought in the French and Indian War in the Fort Duquesne Campaign. Long story short. The northern colonies refused to send reinforcements, except for Pennsylvania, which sent too little, too late. Washington conceived of the Union as a way to concentrate manpower against potential enemies. However, as we both know, the South ended up carrying the burden of all the wars up to 1860. As an aside, the author makes it clear that Washington and his contemporaries were distinctly Southern. The cultural customs he practiced, including the pig pickins he held, are as intimately familiar to us, as they are odd to Northerners. Nothing like BBQ, followed by cobbler and whiskey and cigars for dessert. Washington did it for many guests. The book also illustrates the hostility and mistrust of the North for the South. Washington experiences it first hand on his many trips north. As Washington and his Southern army suffered at Valley forge, the locals sold their surpluses to the British commissary in Philadelphia. So much for northern patriotism. In Philadelphia, Washington’s government was held in suspicion and regarded as foreign. The book makes it clear that America as a single, unified nation, was never true. The nation and its government are essentially the work of Southrons in the face of northern recalcitrance and passive aggressive hostility. But for fear of England, the northern border of the U.S. would have been the Mason Dixon, Ohio river line.

        Interestingly, the author is a Northerner. It reinforces the simple truth that the North is not our country, and they are not our people, and never were.

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        • So you are justifying the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, the rape of our women by your soldiers, the burning of our cities and the poverty your government inflicted upon us for generations – all to end the enslavement of 3 million Africans literally taken from Stone Age cultures?

          Our system was good for all groups involved -slaves certainly included. It is the present system which is evil and needs to be destroyed. Democracy and equality must be overcome if we are to restore civilization here.

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  3. And your justifying the enslavement, rape, murder and de-humanization and destroyed the collective memories of our homeland for millions of Africans for centuries. As far as I’m concerned ya got of light. Ya was able to rebuild and enact Jim Crow laws for another century to put African Americans in their place. Ya lost tha battle thank god.

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    • Actually, I am not justifying rape or murder. I am defending a patriarchal amd humane system. Your people were living in neolithic conditions in Africa without a true religion, written language, the wheel or any of the markers of civilization. My people put them to work building a glorious civilization. Along the way they were given a true religion, an advanced language and they were provided much better housing, healthcare, food, clothing, etc. than even the average free White workers of the Western world at that time – far and away better than anything they would have gotten in Africa. Your people benefited from slavery, just as mine did. The horror was emancipation in Haiti, Northern Brazil, Jamaica and the Lower South. It reversed the gains of civilization and led to the awful situation now in those lands. We all suffer now.

      I notice how you refer to the killing of hundreds of thousands and burning of cities as “getting off light.” That is a truly uncivilized remark. Our ancestors were right about the horrors of equality.

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