Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bill Brady on Thomas Jefferson

Well Rich Miller says that the presumptive GOP nominee for IL Governor "botched" US History taking an excerpt from this Greg Hinz piece from  the weekend. It was about a speech he gave in Chicago at the Union League Club:
Mr. Brady also strongly defended the man Illinois Republicans nominated for lieutenant governor, lumber industry official and heir Jason Plummer.

   Though just age 27, Mr. Plummer "is ready" to lead the nation's fifth largest state if need be, Mr. Brady said.

   "How old was Thomas Jefferson when he wrote the Constitution?" Mr. Brady asked. "Age isn't the only barometer of qualification."

In fact, Mr. Jefferson was 33 when the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776. The constitution was written more than a decade later.
Over at Illinoize a blogger attempts to defend Brady:
Pundits and Statehouse watchers like Rich Miller pounced on the mistake. Except there's only one problem, Brady wasn't wrong. He never said the U.S. Constitution, at least according to the quote in the paper.

Thomas Jefferson did write a constitution in 1776 as well as the Declaration of Independence. In fact he used his draft of a new constitution for his home state, the soon-to-be independent commonwealth of Virginia, to help write the Declaration.

The reporters should have known better because Brady couldn't have meant the U.S. Constitution because the same man who knew Jefferson's age in 1776, obviously would remember that in 1787 Jefferson was our ambassador to France. Living in Paris meant he couldn't participate in the Constitutional Convention that year in Philadelphia.

You can debate whether Plummer is another Jefferson, but be careful if you're going to debate Brady on American history. 
Great to know, but I'm not sure what difference it makes. Perhaps Bill Brady did botch US History, or he just wasn't specific enough. I'll just accuse him of not being specific enough and the press is having a field day with it. It happens unfortunately.

Of course I'm only saying this not exactly because I oppose or support Bill Brady. Why I am saying this is only because I think some of this is pointless. Will it affect him in November? Will he may have a lot of work to do if the concern over his nomination in the primaries earlier this month is about his conservative ideology.

As for Thomas Jefferson I truly think he's a great man. All great men are flawed. I could even discuss that he may have talked about freeing slaves, but continued to own them. I could even discuss the fact that he engaged in the common practice of engaging in an affair with his own slaves. So yeah he's flawed but without him the USA would not be here today without its own flaws!

What say you!


Anonymous said...

I think it's clear that Brady was talking about the US Constitution. If he had been referring to Virginia, he would have stated so explicitly. The sad fact is that many people just don't know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It reminds me of the time John Boehner held up what he said was his personal copy of the Constitution and then started reciting the preamble --- the preamble of the DoI, not that of the Constitution.

I agree with your statement that Jefferson was a great man, but flawed. I think the greatness of the Revolution came about because even though all the founders were flawed, these flaws were compensated by the virtues of their fellow brothers in the revolution.

In addition to Jefferson's flaws with regard to slavery, he also was a bit blind when it came to rebellion. In his letters to Adams before his death, he expressed his regret for his support of the French Revolution even during its most tyrannical stages. Frequently, James Madison had to reign in Jefferson when he seemed to go overboard.

I would say the single greatest contribution of Jefferson was his authorship of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which espoused the radical notion that, unlike in Europe, no man shall be compelled to attend a church nor support it with his taxes. This Statute as well as Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments are the basis of the principle of separation of church and state -- a truly revolutionary principle for the time. Jefferson wasn't a very good parliamentarian either ---- it took Madison to finally get the Statute passed when Jefferson was already in France.

Patrick Lee said...

As one who has portrayed Thomas Jefferson professionally for almost 20 years, to convention audiences from Maine to Hawaii, may I offer another perspective on Jefferson's "flawed" character?
On slavery: There are a number of reasons ... political, personal, legal and humanitarian ... why the man who wrote "all men are created equal" continued to own slaves. If you consider all those reasons, you'll have a far different measure of the man.
On Sally Hemings: Political correctness and Pulitzer Prize winning authors notwithstanding, there is no proof, repeat: proof, not even DNA, Jefferson fathered any of her children. There is coincidence and speculation but no proof. Publicly, Jefferson never acknowledged these allegations, first made in 1802. In his private correspondence, however, he denied them several times. The final rejection was just weeks before his death in 1826. Again, a thorough review of this issue will reveal quite a different story from what everyone "knows" to be true.
Jefferson certainly had his faults but these two weren't among them.

Anonymous said...

To Patrick Lee --- I'd be interested to hear what you consider the political, personal, legal and humanitarian reasons for Jefferson's views on slavery. Not only why he continued to own slaves, but also his views on the basic inferiority of blacks (Notes on the State of Virginia come to mind), that whites and blacks could not possibly live together in the same country (and therefore the freed blacks should be expelled), and his later view that slavery should be allowed to expand into the western territories (despite his earlier support in 1784 for a provision banning slavery there after 1800). If anyting, Jefferson's views on slavery were complicated and contradictory.

Anonymous said...

I would say Mr. Lee is a little too adament about there being no proof that Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings children. Proof isn't even a valid term when it comes to science. We do know one thing beyond a reasonable doubt: Eston Hemings and Thomas Jefferson shared a common male ancestor. As to Jefferson's denials --- well, we do know that Jefferson wasn't exactly the most truthful sometimes. As for example when he lied about employing James Callendar to smear John Adams.

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