On July 4 we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and to an extent, the man who wrote it, Thomas Jefferson.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident … that all men are created equal,” Jefferson wrote.
Those exalted words, however, did not apply to women, to Frederick Douglass, or to Sitting Bull.
Though the Declaration of Independence was eventually approved by the founding fathers, it has been Jefferson who has been held primarily responsible for this glaring omission and injustice. It was Jefferson, however, who gave us the high-minded ideas with which to heal that original near-fatal flaw.
It was also Jefferson who laid out a set of principles that would eventually provide the foundation and seeds for individual rights, women’s suffrage and in time, the abolition of slavery.
As one historian wrote: “Jefferson’s institutional and intellectual legacy served to aid the liberation of both women and blacks. Without it, their respective kinds of enslavement might have been prolonged indefinitely in America.”
Jefferson was indeed an imperfect man. His peccadilloes were considerable, but his contributions to our great Republic, in my view, far outweigh and transcend his idiosyncrasies.
To paraphrase the late Benjamin Disraeli, great services are not necessarily canceled by one act or by one error.
When a college professor was once giving a lecture on the founding fathers, he proceeded to profusely discredit Mr. Jefferson until a woman rose from the audience and said, “My good man, you are a mere pigeon on the great statue of Thomas Jefferson.”
Thomas Jefferson was one of the greatest presidents this country ever produced.