14 Disgusting Facts About President Thomas Jefferson’s Private Life
Sometimes, the aura of a person becomes more significant than the person. The associated beliefs attached to them become increasingly sensationalized, and eventually, the lines of truthfulness and lies are blurred out enough to give the person an entirely new outlook.
An outlook that hides their terrible acts and shows them off as only great people. Such was the case of one of the most influential, pivotal, yet equally problematic people that served as not only the President of the USA but was one of the lead authors of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.
1. Tainted election campaigns propagated by Jefferson
In the quest for presidential power, Jefferson was one of the first people in America to resort to downright propagandistic schemes to drive out competition against John Adams. Calling Adams a ‘hideous hermaphroditical character,’ Jefferson made sure that such tactics stained the reputation of Adams and let him have the upper hand in the elections.
2. An Affair with a Teen Slave — Sally Hemings
After Jefferson’s wife’s demise, he started having a sexually active relationship with a fourteen-year-old slave that he possessed. Sally Hemings initially was a maid at Jefferson’s place in Paris, but she traded her free life and came with Jefferson back to the United States as a slave with an agreement with him to free her children. It is quite unsettling that Jefferson keenly agreed to this demand of a fourteen-year-old and proceeded to have six children with her.
3. Owned his own family?
It is plausible and widely speculated that Sally Hemings herself was the half-sister of Jefferson’s wife. For a person who championed liberty and freedom, he seemed not to provide that for his own family.
4. No Freedom for Sally
Sally Hemings gave herself up for Jefferson’s promise of freeing her children in the future, yet her own fate was planned very differently by him. Jefferson never formally acknowledged her as his wife, and despite Sally bearing multiple children, Jefferson made sure that Sally was never a free woman, even at his deathbed.
5. Jefferson, the family wrecker
Jefferson was deeply involved in the slave trade himself. The majority of his own slaves were separated from their families. One source quotes that he gave over 400 slaves away, subsequently separating them from their own families forever. It is one thing that he owned slaves, but to have them never see their loved ones again puts this evil practice in a whole other dimension.
6. Too many slaves to count
He is often remembered as the “freer of slaves.” This, according to most accounts, is gross hyperbole. Jefferson not only inherited multiple dozen slaves, but the reports of his ownership of slaves are certainly in the hundreds, some going as far as saying that he owned over 600 slaves during his lifetime. At any one point, Jefferson was said to have had over 200 slaves at once, most of them he never freed even in his lifetime.
7. Hypocrisy at its finest
Jefferson’s efforts to end slavery were mere performative acts done to gain social and political clout so he could gain traction within the minorities and tap into another part of the voter base, gaining their sympathy. His halfhearted attempts at ending slavery by calling it ‘political warfare’ coupled with his clear ownership of multiple hundred slaves meant that he never wanted a better, free future for the African American slaves. Still, he was a part of this horrible warfare himself.
8. The Declaration of Independence (read: Slavery)
In 1776, Jefferson proposed multiple racist legislation, which meant that states could bar slaves that were free from leaving a particular vicinity or even leaving it. This form of gatekeeping meant that even free slaves were never free, and they had to be subject to anyone that was not black. In some of his legislation, he tried to prevent the increase in the population of black individuals in the United States at all costs. Jefferson also was extremely harsh towards recaptured slaves who wanted to run away and allowed punishments such as flogging to slaves that tried to run for their lives under draconian masters.
9. A Champion of Rebellion (unless, of course, the slaves are doing it)
Despite his passionate rhetoric about freedom and absolutely fighting for secession at all costs, Jefferson’s hypocrisy was at an all-time high with the Haitian Revolution started by the slaves who just wanted freedom from the continuous oppression. To protect the United States from any uprising spilling over from the Haitian Revolution, he did not recognize Haiti as an independent state and gave no aid to the newly formed nation.
10. A supporter of the Guillotine
Known as the Reign of Terror, the bloody period in the French Revolution led by the extremely radical Jacobin, Maximillian Robespierre, it was a time where hundreds of people were beheaded by the guillotine every single day. Despite the absolutely atrocious nature of the revolution at that time, Jefferson thought that it was a fantastic cause and was a staunch supporter of the revolution even through the terrible Reign of Terror.
11. The not-so-glamorous Secretary of State
Jefferson was the first Secretary of State of the United States, but his bias came into place and tainted the Secretary of State’s position. He used the seat to further his interests, which lay in the romanticization of the French Revolution, prompting some to go as far as blaming him for treason, after which he resigned from the position.
12. The Master of Blame Game
Funnily enough, before being blamed for treason himself, he was outrightly accusing other people of treason to the United States. His primary victim was George Washington himself. He made sure that he launched propaganda schemes against him, portraying him as a vile person who had no interests in the United States at heart. Ironically enough, he was swooning over France himself.
13. The Clash at Mount Rushmore
Despite overtly being against slavery, Jefferson never supported George Washington in his fight against slavery. It shows two things; one, that he was not firm in his resolve and did not genuinely care about the slaves. Secondly, Jefferson was keener on opposing George Washington as his rival rather than actually working to combat slavery.
14. Jefferson and the blame game of Treason: A match made in Heaven
It seems that blaming everyone for treason was one of Jefferson’s hobbies. He threw the word around for everyone but himself. One such incident was his own Vice President, Aaron Burr, who was accused of treason and tried in court on Jefferson’s command. Burr was found not guilty by the court. Many people have speculated that Jefferson’s act was out of spite due to their hotly contested 1800 Presidential Elections.