(855) 4-ESSAYS

Type a new keyword(s) and press Enter to search

Thomas Jefferson

            In this article "Thomas Jefferson and the Meanings of Liberty," scholar and historian Douglas L. Wilson warns of the dangers of presentism when evaluating the character of Thomas Jefferson and his contributions. Wilson used the alleged affair between Jefferson and Sally Hemings to present his case of presentism. He then showed how presentism has distorted history as in the case of how Americans now perceive the stories of the Old West. Wilson took great effort to show that Jefferson had many qualities and talents that were never justly emphasized. In fact, he portrayed Jefferson as a modern futuristic thinker whose own personal life did not reflect his beliefs in regards to freedom and race. .
             Thomas Jefferson's ideas and beliefs about equality of man were heavily influenced from European thinkers during the eighteenth century, or the Age of Reason. Fawn M. Brodie published a book in 1974 where she tried to prove that Thomas Jefferson and his slave girl, Sally Hemings, had a thirty-eight year love affair. Jefferson himself denied the allocation. Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone stated the book had no historical merit. Wilson believed that great Americans, including Kennedy, should be judged by their accomplishments and not by their personal weaknesses. .
             Wilson argues how presentism has distorted history regarding stories and tales that used to glorify the Old West. These have now turned to lessons on how man has ruined the land and mistreated the Indians. A generation ago children admired the stories of Davy Crocket and other Indian fighters and today the old heroes of the west are regarded as killers who destroyed the land and personal rights of the Indian. Wilson strongly argues that using our values today alter the heroes of yesterday.
             Douglas showed in his article that Jefferson was a contemporary on such views as exercise and diet and architecture. In his youth he was a runner and later believed in the benefits of walking.

Essays Related to Thomas Jefferson

Got a writing question? Ask our professional writer!
Submit My Question