Many good greetings to you, my friends, and all of those reading this on the Enternet. This has been perhaps one of the few places your humble servant has had the good fortune of airing his concerns and feelings with this strange trip he has found himself on, and indeed, the more I stay here, the more the strange gets stranger.
Today is July 4th, a very meaningful day for myself. When I was back living in the year 1826, things looked bleak for my dreary life, and I vowed to myself that I lived each year just to see another day pass closer to July 4th. This was that day I lived for, the day of the independence of the Union, and before I was stolen from my time I didn't know if my frail body would make it to see another July 4th. Now, because of this time travelling accident that brings me to today, my body is renewed with the vigor of youth, a side-effect of the sudden event that has changed my life so drastically. I have easily gained many of those years back, but lost so many inbetween. It's now 2004, and I never thought in all my years I'd be around to see July 4th, 2004. I never imagined that our Union would still stand for so long... let alone expanding from the East to West & spanning the whole continent! From sea to shining sea. I have seen them both, now that this time travelling accident brought me into the locality of Portland, Oregon, nearby where my friends Lewis and Clark turned around and headed back on their expedition.
So it was that I saw my face on a publication through a rack of magazine newspapers at a store. The publication's title was TIME, and on the cover it said "The Radical Mind Of THOMAS JEFFERSON". I read the contents, curious as to what people think of me. I saw inside both admiration and abhorrence. I see the stories of Mr. Callender still carry about, and my detractors to this day call me a hypocrite, although I never did justice to the story then, my daughter never did justice to it, nor did the people who knew me, and I do no justice to it now.
I never enjoyed the attention of such publications but today is a different story. My mistakes and trials were shown and I looked back on them as if it were a different life. Maybe it is a different life now? When I looked in the TIME I saw my ideas with the cynicism people have for my most disputed actions, the most controversial aspects of my life. I was, admittedly, an imperfect man. As much as I would have loved never to be criticized for being one, however I may or may not agree with such criticisms, if I had the choice to this day to have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. These feelings never did change.
I've been busy for the course of the last month, trapped in a routine that consumes much of my time here. I am always locked in the habit of doing one of any of the following things:
3. When I am not doing one of the two above aforementioned things, I am spending time out with Miss Natalie Cato, a humble woman who teaches history classes to our schoolchildren. We went into a film this weekend - "The Stepford Wives", upon her recommendation - and at the movie theater and we saw a huge line at the gate. I enquired what the nature of the film was from a couple of the patrons standing despondent at the door in line, patrons in this line seemed better dressed than the rest of the patrons entering for other films, I almost wondered what the occasion was.
So, we went inside and down the hall to our film, passing one of the theaters letting out. This group was much like the group in the line before, and I think it was the same film in fact. A man was passing out flyers to passers-by. The patrons were hissing and booing this man, as I guess they didn't agree with his viewpoints. One called a manager over, and I witnessed the scene.
The man was quickly ushered out of the movie theater, and I must say that in being a fair and impartial witness, the decision was in the best for the business. If this movie is so controversial, the least this business can do is present the film without the tainted views and others who will only harass the patrons. I thought this was fair until I exited my movie with Natalie, and we witnessed another similar scene, as the same movie got out yet again just as we were leaving, and a different man was passing out flyers this time...
Now this, in my mind, was totally unfair. No police came, or if they did they were far too late, and the security guard did nothing as he could not detain the man. The man continued to pass out his flyers, and the crowd supported him openly. I wonder what was so different between the two flyers the two men passed out, to incite such a different reaction? I couldn't help but think the theater manager was right in his decisions, despite taking the brunt of the blow for making them.
It was when we walked outside that I noticed a protest. The protest was amongst the same people who saw the film, and they were shouting that the war should stop and chanting things like "No Blood For Oil!". Outside in the midst of the people I saw James, our new roommate, who presumably watched the movie. He tried to get me and Natalie to join the protest, but Natalie decided it'd be best to get out of there. I've never seen so many obnoxious people in my life.
Me and Natalie have had many good times lately, too many to recount, and most definitely less hectic than this.
4. What time I am not spending doing those three things I spend at home, with my turtle Mr. Capitalism and good friend Daniel. James still "crashes" with us, in my bedroom, but I have grown accustomed to the downstairs living room as my quarters, so it is fine. It gives me plenty of time to use this computer, which I can record many of my own thoughts about the world as things happen. James harasses me almost every day about the turtle, Mr. Capitalism, who has become my own friend in many ways. I refuse to get rid of him, the animal is domestic now, it'd be cruel and unusual to let him roam free. I have assumed the responsibility of feeding and caring for it by being in it's life, James doesn't understand that, he thinks I'm the cruel one for keeping it. I have a feeling James only picked it up out of a flight of fancy, and not for true care in the welfare of the poor creature.
Speaking of the turtle, it was not the other day that Daniel and James confronted me about a challenge. They said they had a friend, Carl, who has a turtle, "Marks", for the markings on his shell. Carl thinks his turtle "Marks" can out-race mine, why such an absurd topic came up I have no clue. Mr. Capitalism is steady and his leg wound was healed a while ago, so he could be fit for a fair contest. I have been assured by James that the contest would be friendly and that we would not be wagering anything on it, as I abhor gambling. It seems friendly enough, and I would like to see how well Mr. Capitalism has recovered, so I have agreed.
James and Daniel have informed me they have spectacular fireworks & I was really excited to think about the kind of fireworks they might have today, I am informed they are broad and spectacular, filling the sky with color, no doubt I will find out tonight. I remember John Adams used to love the illuminations of July 4th, and I joined him from time to time to see the men celebrate and illuminate the sky and fire their guns, even before we were certain the revolution would last. It was a cardinal disappointment to me when I found out such celebrations are largely controlled by the government it's police today. For fear of arrest we do something as simple as light illuminations for celebration? What is next, the confiscation of sausages, corn on the cobb, and apple pie for their threat to our health in overconsumption? What right do they have to limit our celebrations, should they hurt no one?
The thought passed to me if they still rung that old bell in Philadelphia to celebrate the occasion? Probably not.
Besides some of these things my life has been rather mundane, but I still have many things to note when I have another free moment. Please take care my friends.
your affectionate friend & servant
- Thomas Jefferson
Well, your humble servant is back for some summertime updates. After a month-long break for some other projects, all for the NAMyth.com website, TeeJ has returned to comment on how he spent his last month, on Independence Day, a very symbolic time for the past President.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the document that states the principles our government was founded on. The signing of the Declaration is the reason we celebrate the 4th, and it's something we should all take a moment to look back on and remember. Jefferson remembered it each year, and when TeeJ says he lived each year for July 4th, that's the truth - on July 4th, 1826, months after the scene where I transported him into the present, the real Thomas Jefferson passed away. Not having realized the death of his friend had happened merely 5 hours ago, John Adams on his death bed said in his final words, "Jefferson Still Lives". July 4th is not only the day our independence was gained, it was the day we lost two of our most important Founders, and our first two Presidents.
I noticed the TIME magazine article a couple of days ago, saw it from a mile away, being so familiar with images of Jefferson I spotted immediately what it was. I went over and grabbed myself a copy, and I enjoyed the magazine, although there was the perpetual focus of three aspects of Jefferson's life that were controversial, his racist sentiments, his slave ownership, and his supposed affair with slave Sally Hemings.
It's true that Jefferson owned slaves, although the vast majority of those were inherited. His feelings on black Americans was very mixed. On the one hand, he did believe in the morality of equal rights. One of his chief objections to the king of Britain in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence (before the reference was removed by Congress) was an objection to the capturing of slaves. Jefferson wrote opinions about blacks from an analytical, pseudo-scientific light in the controversial Notes on the State of Virginia, bringing forth many more problems with the conflicted President on the issue of race.
The Notes on the State of Virginia contains many of Jefferson's biases against the black community, brought on by his vastly incoherent and outright illogical research. He insults the slave community by saying "it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior", and it's phrases like that which dictate people's opinions of Jefferson on race. Reading on, we see that Jefferson qualifies his statements against never having seen blacks in a free environment, and it's in this qualification that Jefferson leaves open sympathies that stay with him for the remainder of his life as a slave-owner. Jefferson's conclusions draw back to several points and attitudes that summarize the status of blacks in American society at the time, making him more than an everyday racist.
Jefferson's viewpoint was that to free slaves indiscriminately was amoral, because none of these people were educated nor did they have rights in the American society - he equated abandoning a slave to abandoning a child, as the slave has served his whole life in bondage, he didn't see merely letting them go as a real social solution to the problem, and he thought it would make life just as hard on the slave as it would those who have oppressed him. Jefferson stood skeptical of the possibilities for integration, and ultimately believed they are futile for society as it stood in his times. This may have been a true assessment, slavery was a hardened institution in America during his times and it's not easy to say that American society would've given it up overnight (it took a Civil War to shake the foundations of that institution for good). Jefferson also believed that blacks would never forgive whites for slavery, another social divide Jefferson simply had no answer for.
When Jefferson summarizes his thoughts in the controversial Virginia Notes, he says "There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it..." Jefferson moves on to insinuate that the true answer for the problem of slavery, so ingrained in Jefferson's time, may lie with the next generation, but only if his generation can prevent the tyrannies from being taught to the next. He equates the struggle for slave justice as something god may one day bring about, further distancing himself from it, as he really fell into the belief it was nothing he could really do. This distance between Jefferson and the slave was the reason Jefferson never pursued that avenue further, as he never fully understood them, moreso, he felt trying to come to such an understanding would simply not be possible. He hopes someday for a revolution on the scale of his own, and concludes, "I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation."
In this way, Jefferson laid the philosophical path to abolitionism, well-wishing that someday people would stand up and solve this problem on a larger scale of society than Jefferson felt he could put it. Perhaps this was his prejudices speaking, or just his lack of motivation. In my opinion, that Jefferson considered these ideas makes him more than the hypocritical slave-owning founder that so many like to characterize him as. It's probably one of Jefferson's greater vices that he never explored the issue, nor ever laid a finger to help free the men he afterwards expressed sympathy for.
As for the Sally Hemings, Jefferson was 65 when she conceived Eston Hemings, the one confirmed DNA offspring from the Jefferson line. This DNA confirmation is damning for Jefferson, but there were 25 other Jefferson males that lived within 20 miles of the plantation and visited it frequently who all carried the same DNA to create this same paternal match. Eston Hemings is without a doubt a Jefferson - but was he Thomas Jefferson's son, or the son of one of the other 25 male Jeffersons? Randolph Jefferson, Thomas' brother, is a very likely candidate. Either way, due to the nature of the rumors and the conventional wisdom, most people to this day believe it's Thomas Jefferson's son, and that is the belief of many in the actual Hemings family that exists today. This may or may not be true (I remain a skeptic), but whether it is or not, Jefferson never confirmed or denied the allegations.
Most of the content of this latest TeeJ update is a recap of the story up till this point, but as always, I have some few Editor's notes to add to this entry...
I had TeeJ comment on the Hussein trial situation as I really to believe it'll be a farce. Of course, time will tell, but the first day of Hussein's arraignment, he pointed fingers and declared the trial to be a "theater" and that Bush was the real criminal. I fully expect every day of Hussein's trial to be similar in outlandish proclamations from the fallen dictator.
TeeJ's comments about Hussein being a "lion in the field" and onward were all comments taken from his many raves about the evils of Napoleon Bonaparte, with Hussein's name being inserted in place of Bonaparte.
The random German words used in Ludwig's reply is makeshift, I am not really fluent in German, nor do I refer to people as Herr-anything.
The movie the theater patrons are discussing with TeeJ is Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's latest "documentary" on the Bush administration. I fully recommend people look at the film with critical eyes, even if they do not favor Bush. The 'NAM doesn't endorse Bush, but it also doesn't endorse the policies and agendas of filmmaker Michael Moore or the majority of extreme-Left Bush detractors. Moore is criticized for being revisionist and deceptive in his filmmaking efforts, reminding me of Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda documentaries in the days of Nazi Germany. Whatever be your opinion, TeeJ's recommendation and mine is to be very critical of everything you hear and see about this film.
Several conflicts Jefferson witnessed at the movie theater over "Farenheit 9/11" - the incidents with the manager and the two men passing out the flyers, as well as the peace protest outside - are all inspired by real events that happened in Portland during the film's stay in theaters, and may have been real things Jefferson would've seen had he been in a movie theater during the times Farenheit 9/11 was playing. These incidents separately happened pretty much as the story is written, with little interpretation thrown in, besides the dialogue and narrative describing the scenes. Several old ladies did in fact get knocked on the floor by a surly 6'5" Democrat who pushed a theater manager into them after a verbal dispute over flyers being passed out after the movie. However, they did not seem to be hurt from the tumble.
The 4th of July's first celebration was in 1777, one year after the signing of the Declaration, before the American Revolution had even been won. It's really sad that in most states fireworks are illegal without proper permits, and that no guns will be fired, and that even public gatherings will be controlled by federal and state authorities. I honestly believe the Founders would be dismayed by the news.
The Liberty Bell was cracked well before Jefferson's time and well before it was even used in Philadelphia to mark our day of independence, in fact, it was cracked the first day it was rung in 1753. However, it was reforged and since seemed functional for many years to come, despite having been poorly made by the account of many of those who had to deal with it. It still rung to celebrate public events and while it wasn't rung on July 4th 1776 the Liberty bell was rung 4 days later on July 8th to celebrate the Declaration's first public reading (the Declaration immediately went to print after the Second Continental Congress convened). It was rung in Jefferson's time and beyond until and was rendered unringable in 1846 with it's famous zig-zag crack. In fact, it ringed in 1826 on July 4th, but not for celebration - it tolled the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
There's a race on the horizon! TeeJ's turtle Mr. Capitalism vs. Carl's turtle "Marks". Of course, "Carl" "Marks" is not to be confused with "Karl" "Marx".