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June 13, 2024 69 mins

Robert and Prop conclude the story of Thomas Jefferson by talking about the time he built a smarthome powered by child slavery.Robert and Prop conclude the story of Thomas Jefferson by talking about the time he built a smart home powered by child slavery.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Also media. So so prop you listened to the Boston
Slide cop, Yeah.

Speaker 2 (00:08):
I just yes, mainly because like I just feel like
Boston city people are the most on brand people, like
the Boston people are the most Boston ever. And it
was a joy to hear Jamie bring back her accent. Yeah,
because I'm like I missed that. I'm like, I need
you to have more.

Speaker 1 (00:26):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (00:27):
Yeah, I mean she does a nice imitation of a
Boston accent.

Speaker 4 (00:30):
I just really a lot of I.

Speaker 1 (00:33):
Just really want a techno remix of the end of
the the side cap video where he's like a fuck,
I don't know, Robert, could you do it better?

Speaker 2 (00:41):
Yeah? You teach us how to do it? Boy slow.

Speaker 3 (00:47):
So that was it's like East Boston, you know, I
think this guy was some other.

Speaker 4 (00:52):
Part of town.

Speaker 3 (00:54):
Yeah, I'm slid in classic Boston line what you would say.

Speaker 2 (00:59):
I'm getting better it. I'm getting better at it. Yeah
you are.

Speaker 1 (01:02):
Anyway, I'm very I'm very proud of that show. So
sixteenth Minute of Fame.

Speaker 3 (01:07):
Yeah, that's a great show to open about sixteenth Minute
of Fame. And you know, sixteenth Minute of Fame is
made by our friend Jamie Loftus And when we start
part four, We're going to talk about Thomas Jefferson's friend
Dabney Carr, who died. Anyway, we're back. So we've talked

(01:31):
about Dabney a couple of times here. Prop and his
best childhood best friend. They go to school together, they
live at school together. Then Dabney dies at like thirty,
you know, tragically young. And as little kids they had,
they'd spent a lot of time hanging out, and you know,
the vast property, all these thousands of acres his dad owns.
Thomas's favorite part is this place called montes Cello. This

(01:53):
place he calls montes Cello, which is like this little mountain.
And as a child, he and Dabney made a promise
that the first one of them to die would bury
the other under a specific oak tree atop Monticello. Jefferson
followed up on this promise by having the people he
owned dig it because he's not going to dig a
grave for his dead friend. And then he took notes

(02:13):
like a serial killer about it.

Speaker 2 (02:15):
Weirdo, But the mountain.

Speaker 3 (02:17):
Monticello, where his friend chooses to be buried, gets its
name from Jefferson, who took the Italian word for small mountain. Now,
I've always heard that Monticello was a mountain, and that's
what people always say about it. But before I sat
down to write these episodes, I hadn't actually looked up
the height of the fucker. And as soon as I did,
it's eight hundred feet tall. Prop that doesn't seem like

(02:37):
a mountain to me. That's a hill, right, That's a hill. Yeah,
that's a fucking hill. And like, I don't know, it's
one of those things. There's not actually a universally agreed
upon definition of a mountain, right, and this is this
is petty. We're talking about a man who does some
terrible things. But it annoys me.

Speaker 2 (02:55):
Yeah, it's kind of yeah, the size of a mountains
kind of a vibe thing. But yeah, but I feel like,
but you know a mountain when you see it, You
know a mountain.

Speaker 4 (03:02):
When you see it.

Speaker 3 (03:03):
Yeah, some places, like in I think in the UK,
I think it's a thousand feet it has to be,
so it's not a mountain if we're going by like
British standards.

Speaker 1 (03:11):
Right, But obviously I see you take this very seriously.
I do.

Speaker 3 (03:16):
I'm livid, Sophia. I've never been anything because it's like anger,
but I still find it frustrating.

Speaker 2 (03:21):
Because it's just like, okay, like if we were anyone else,
like if it was just like a like I would
be like, oh I get it, bro like yeah yeah,
not it's mountain, Like.

Speaker 4 (03:31):
You got a mountain?

Speaker 2 (03:32):
Yeah, good king, you know what I'm saying, Like, I'll
be on your side, But like this fool like nah,
fam ain't no damn mountain.

Speaker 4 (03:38):
It is a hill.

Speaker 1 (03:39):
If this, if this, if this mountain verus hill issue
is so important to you, Robert, and it makes you
so livid. I just want you to know I would
die on that hill for you.

Speaker 4 (03:47):
Thank you, thank you, yes, so thank you.

Speaker 1 (03:51):
Well.

Speaker 3 (03:51):
I looked into it a little further, by which I
mean I read an article on adventure dot Com but
spelled without the e in the middle of adventure which
He points out that both the Oxford English Dictionary and
the American English, Merry and Webster Dictionary to find a
mountain is a land mass that projects conspicuously above the
surrounding area. So they do literally say it's a vibe thing, right, Does.

Speaker 2 (04:13):
It look like a mountain toew? Yeah, totally.

Speaker 3 (04:16):
The USGS, the United States Geological Survey used to have
a minimum height of a thousand feet for a mountain,
but they don't do that anymore. I'm sure Big Mountain
got to them, you know, all that mountain money coming
to the four anyway, Thomas Jefferson at least got mountain
vibes from Monticello, because that's what he always called it,

(04:36):
even though it's a hill. Jefferson inherited the property at
age twenty one. It had been owned by his father,
but he had loved the land since boyhood. The people
like he so basically he starts building in seventeen sixty eight.
I think that's just when he's finally in like a
financial situation where he feels like he can afford to
do that. And I say he starts building, he has

(04:57):
the people that he owns built.

Speaker 4 (04:58):
He does not do that.

Speaker 3 (04:59):
He which he does sometimes hire people too, Like he
has laborers come in to do parts of it.

Speaker 4 (05:03):
Obviously.

Speaker 3 (05:04):
One of the interesting things is a lot people are
fascinated with Monticello.

Speaker 4 (05:08):
It's like it's a whole deal.

Speaker 3 (05:10):
And one of the things people will point out is
that he is like he designs the whole thing himself.
Like he does He's not like a professional architect but
he like becomes one because he has like no training,
but he drafts blueprints for Monticello, and normally when people
are like self proclaimed architects, it's a bad thing. He

(05:30):
actually seems to have been pretty good at this, and
he like becomes he does like he designs a bunch
of professional buildings later in life. Because I started the
series by noting that he was kind of the ancient
Roman equivalent of a web like he's he's obsessed with
ancient Rome, the way that like some people are obsessed
with Japan over in the US today. So it's based
a lot on like ancient Greek and Roman sort of

(05:52):
classic designs. And he, you know, this is like, at
least in the things that he expresses through his writing,
Monticello was like the center of his being. He wrote
about the property. I am happy nowhere else and in
no other society, and all my wishes end where I
hope my days will end at Monticello. Now the reason

(06:12):
for his happiness that that's always portrayed romantically, he was
just so in love with this, this land and this
beautiful house that he built. I think what's actually happening
here is a little more sinister because not that he's
just like I really love this hill. I really love
this hill.

Speaker 4 (06:27):
I really like my living room.

Speaker 3 (06:28):
No, it's the real world constantly falls short of Jefferson's beliefs, right,
Those beliefs are kind of incoherent, but he is like
a dreamer. He expresses these kind of like constant revolutionary
fantasies that never quite come true. Right, the French Revolution.
We can argue if it's better or not, but like
it doesn't work out the way everyone hoped it would

(06:48):
when it.

Speaker 2 (06:49):
Started, right exactly.

Speaker 3 (06:51):
Yeah, And he has this obsession with like Cato's idea
of the idyllic free farmer is the backbone of a
mighty republic. And also all these weird beliefs about these
independent sacks and explorers who'd founded the colonies, and like
none of that's real. And he wants to kind of
make these dreams that he has from the things that
he's read. He wants to like build. He's kind of

(07:13):
the same thing a lot of cult leaders want, right, Like,
I just want to go out into the woods and
build my own society, a perfect utopia right now. Yeah,
in modern America you can do that, and people do,
but you have to be a cult leader, right, you
have to get a bunch of people to like follow you,
otherwise you're not going to be able to build your utopia.
Thomas just owns people like That's what he's doing here though, right,

(07:35):
he is, he is. This really is very much like
a cult leader motivation, but just using slaves. Yeah, I
hadn't thought about it that way.

Speaker 2 (07:44):
Yeah. Yeah, like a place that you could pretend it's
like you know, and it becomes like you saying that now,
like becomes such a part of the mythos of the South,
even like the you know, like the Lost Cause thing
I mean that we did where it's just like you
want this like Whistling Dixie, you know, lazy afternoon sip

(08:06):
and sea tea like kind of lifestyle where we could
just hang out and talk about the new scuttle bucket.
It's just a perfect like world on our Sunday tea
on the porch while we're trying not to catch the vapis.
You know, Yes, you just want that, you know what
I mean?

Speaker 3 (08:20):
Yeah, And that is that's what's happening here. Jefferson starts,
you know, has construction started in seventeen sixty eight, He
moves there for the first time in seventeen seventy. Because
their old home, Shadwell, had burned down. They lived at
first in an outbuilding until the main house was finished
enough to allow occupation. Jefferson occupied the house there with
his wife Martha for about ten years before she passes

(08:43):
on and he takes a break to.

Speaker 4 (08:45):
Become French for a while.

Speaker 3 (08:46):
The architecture that he witnessed in Paris inspired further changes
to the property when he returned in seventeen eighty nine,
and as we noted, he pays for that by using
the people that he owns as collateral. His goal when
he comes back is to kind of retire from public
life and live in Monticello. That only lasts like three
or four years. Like he's never actually good at, you know,
retiring and given up public life. But when it gets

(09:09):
home from France, he's like, I'm so tired of the
the weariness of the world.

Speaker 4 (09:13):
I just want to.

Speaker 3 (09:13):
Retreat to have a lie, Yeah, having a bullshit all
these French exhausting yeah. Yeah, to a lie to someone else, yeah, totally.
So part of what's going on here with Monticello is
he has built for himself or he has had built
for himself a home that includes he's almost made a
smart house, right. It is filled with ultra modern amenities

(09:35):
and a lot of things that you couldn't actually have
in a house until the age of like automation and
like machines and electricity, using like human beings to actually
fulfill that role. And I was unaware about this. People
always talk about, like, how what an architectural marvel it is,
but like the idea that he has built a slavery
powered smart house was not expressed to me.

Speaker 4 (09:57):
Wow, that's phrase, that's what it is.

Speaker 3 (10:01):
You're right, yeah, yeah, I'm gonna read you a quote
from the Smithsonian magazine article by Henry Winsack. The mansion
sits atop a long tunnel through which slaves unseen hurried
back and forth, carrying platters of food, fresh tableware, ice, beer, wine,
and linens, while above them, twenty or thirty or forty
guests sat listening to Jefferson's dinner table conversation. At one

(10:22):
end of the tunnel lay the ice house. At the
other the kitchen, a hive of ceaseless activity where the
enslaved cooks and their helpers produced one course after another
during dinner, Jefferson would open a panel in the side
of the fireplace, insert an empty wine bottle, and seconds
later pull out a full bottle. We can imagine he
would delay explaining how this magic took place until an
astonished guest put the question to him. The panel concealed

(10:44):
a narrow dumbwaiter that descended into the basement. When Jefferson
put an empty bottle in the compartment, a slave waiting
in the basement pulled the dumbwaiter down, moved the empty
inserted a fresh bottle, and sent it up to the
master a matter of seconds. Similarly, platters of hot food
magically appeared on a rough volving door fitted with shelves
and us and the used plates disappeared from sight. On
the same contrivance, guests could not see or hear any

(11:07):
of the activity with the leaks between the visible world
and the invisible that magically produced Jefferson's abundance.

Speaker 2 (11:13):
He made it Disneyland.

Speaker 3 (11:15):
He made a Disneyland. Yeah he's got Yeah, that's crazy, like, yeah,
it's Disneyland. Yeah huh, Yeah, it's a Disneyland and it's
all powered by slavery. And I I didn't like I
knew that his life, you know, relied heavily on slavery,
or I didn't realize like he built like a magical house.

Speaker 2 (11:36):
He figured out how to hide him.

Speaker 3 (11:38):
Yeah, you don't even see the people serve because that's uncomfortable, right,
It's really awkward to like have to look at slavery
like yeah, like, especially.

Speaker 2 (11:47):
As you're discussing the tenants in the in the nuances
of liberty, right you know, so it's like we can't
just be like, oh, out in the open about it.

Speaker 3 (11:56):
Yeah, you've just got your magical wine box that keeps
being filled with bottles, Yeah, Disneyland.

Speaker 4 (12:03):
Yeah kind of.

Speaker 1 (12:04):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (12:05):
And in learning this, it kind of brought Jefferson into
clarity for me. You know, there's this how can he
write so well about the concept of liberty while still
owning people?

Speaker 1 (12:14):
Right?

Speaker 3 (12:15):
Why did he ultimately fail? He used to It seems
like he used to when he was younger, have some
convictions about abolition, and then he failed, Like why? And
it's it's I think part of it at least is
because using the people he owned let him mimic aspects
of what we would call a first world lifestyle with
eighteenth century technology, right, Like it's.

Speaker 2 (12:36):
Kind of rad. Yeah, Yeah, it's kind of rad to
stick a wine bottle into a wall and then a
new one comes out.

Speaker 3 (12:43):
Yeah, And I think that, honestly, that makes him more
comprehensible because we do all see we all know that, Like, shit,
that's really convenient, you know, like have like Amazon Prime
or whatever. Right, Yes, great being able to get a
thing the next day, and you know why you're able
to write, Yes, access to all of these like wonderful

(13:04):
luxury items like comes through a lot of like not
just environmental waste that's you know, we are going to
pay for one day, but like a lot of human suffering,
and you're all pretty yeah.

Speaker 2 (13:16):
Like I totally love this, and I think this is
the like this is the big This is a big
takeaway because it's like, you know again like the answer,
you know, motivations of stuff. Again, my organizing premise is
like history is just us back then, So like the
answer is actually as simple and as obvious as it's.

(13:37):
It's not a deep mystery. It's this made my life easier. Yeah,
and I know it's wrong, but god damn it, I
really I really could use a new pencil holder. So
it needs to come right now. I can't wait two days.
It has to come right now.

Speaker 3 (13:53):
I understand that this is the great evil of my era,
but I'm not walking down to the wine cellar right all.
It makes it so petty but also so comprehensible, I think, exactly. Yeah,
Monticello has been a famous property for generations, and it's
innovative design gets sort of folded in with long standing
myths about Jefferson's genius. A classic example would be this

(14:15):
quote from John F. Kennedy during a dinner honoring Nobel
Prize winners at the White House. I think this is
the most extraordinary collection of talent of human knowledge that
has ever been gathered together at the White House, with
the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. And
you'll you run into that quote a lot because it's
it's that like Aaron Sorkin era, like American mythos, like

(14:38):
our great like these men were really like Titanic minds.
And yeah, it's weird both because like, yeah, I don't know,
I don't see as much evidence for genius as you do.
Like was he a really good writer? Yeah, absolutely, but
like I don't know genius. I don't even know if
I'd call him a genius writer, right, Like yeah, But
more to the point, that's also that's a shitty thing

(15:00):
for JFK to say to a bunch of Nobel Prize winners,
because the nineteen sixty two Nobel Prize winners list included
John Steinbeck, who was the better writer the Jefferson.

Speaker 1 (15:11):
Oh.

Speaker 3 (15:13):
It included Linus Paulin, who had attempted to end the
nuclear arms race and like done, made significant progress in
doing that. Included Francis Crick, James Watkins, and Maurice Wilkins,
who put out a paper describing the helical structure of
DNA for the first time. So I actually think that
crew is a lot more impressive than the guy who
had been to the wine cellar powered by enslaved people.

Speaker 2 (15:36):
Yeah, definitely, like a like it's like you say that
line and then you stop and look at the room,
like when Thomas Jefferson died dined alone. Yeah, he get
it because he's the smartest guy ever.

Speaker 1 (15:48):
Get it.

Speaker 3 (15:49):
Yeah, you guys just figured out DNA. He figured out
how to get wine bottles up to his house without
looking at people.

Speaker 2 (15:54):
Listen, he figured out how to hide evil. That's what he.

Speaker 3 (16:00):
Man so as it happens. Obviously, the whole machine that
was Monticello was powered entirely by the work of child
slaves in particular, and by powered, I mean that's what
funded his lifestyle in a very specific way, Like that's
generally true in that like that was just a thing
across later, like specifically, young boys are what pay for

(16:24):
Jefferson's lifestyle. You get hints of this in more casual
popular coverage of Monticello when rite up i found on
history dot Com notes at a time when most brick
was still imported from England, Jefferson chose to mold and
bake his own bricks with clay found on the property.
Monticello's grounds provided most of the lumber, stone and limestone,
and even the nails used to construct the buildings were

(16:46):
manufactured on site. Now that kind of makes it sound
like Jefferson is like a shop local pioneers, an off
grid king, right, Like he's built this. Wow, they even
made their own nails. That is leaving that description. The
way they talk about the nails leaves out something important,
which is that Thomas Jefferson is horribly in debt and

(17:06):
because he is not going to work with you, and
I would consider a job. He needs a way to
cover his bills with labor performed on the property.

Speaker 2 (17:14):
Wow.

Speaker 3 (17:15):
Jefferson's image is as like a farmer, right, because he's
obsessed and he writes a lot like Cato did about
this Yaleman farmer. Right, So you might expect him to
have made his living by having slaves work his farm
men grow crops, which is what I had always assumed. Right,
he didn't try to do this. But he's a terrible farmer,
like he's dog shit at the His job is the

(17:36):
business side of this, right, and.

Speaker 2 (17:38):
His business at farming.

Speaker 4 (17:39):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (17:40):
Oh, so he out here saying like, I've made millions
of dollars on my online store, and I'll teach you
how to do it right. Where's your I've never seen
your store. Yeah. And if you're making millions of dollars
on the store, why are you're teaching classes?

Speaker 1 (17:55):
Yeah? That he is.

Speaker 4 (17:57):
He is the old time.

Speaker 3 (17:58):
The equivalent of that guy sitting in is like garage
next to a Lamborghini in a bookshelf, being likely a
book every day. Yeah, do you yelling at you on
YouTube to send him money so he can tell you
how to do drop shipping or whatever the fuck. Yeah,
basically now, so you know, he does try to make
it as a farmer in the business of farming. The

(18:21):
first crop he really tries is tobacco. Now, the problem
with tobacco is that it's.

Speaker 4 (18:25):
Dog shit for the soil.

Speaker 2 (18:27):
Right.

Speaker 3 (18:27):
If you just at growing a little bit because you
want to smoke, you can do okay, as long as
you like really know what you're doing and like, yeah,
you know you understand how to like regenerate the soil
and stuff. But like tobacco farming on an industrial level,
which is what he and everyone else is trying to
do because they want to make money. And that's the
same thing Washington does, the same thing a lot of
people do.

Speaker 2 (18:45):
Right.

Speaker 3 (18:46):
The climate is actually changing in Virginia during this period,
so like tobacco becomes something that gets done elsewhere, and
a lot of them move over to wheat. But the
other problem that Jefferson has is that Monticello is, you know,
a hill whatever, but it's like an alpine terrain, righty,
and the soil is bad in that kind of a place.

(19:07):
You get a hint of this, and like they made
their own bricks for Monticello out of like local clay. Well,
if there's a lot of clay in the ground, it's
probably not great for industrial agriculture, right, You kind of
want soil more than clay.

Speaker 2 (19:19):
Yeah, you can't grow clay, guys.

Speaker 3 (19:21):
Yeah, it's it's not not very good to do right now,
Monticello is he probably he could have if this if
this was like, you know, somebody who was just trying
to live, you know, off grid or I mean there
was no grid back then. Everybody lived off grid. But
if there's somebody who was just trying to like live
in an independent farm and like make all of their
own food, you could do that because they had enough

(19:41):
land there. But Jefferson needs a business that's going to
get him out of debt, right, so he gets very
excited at first with wheat because wheat is the crop
that wheat is in a lot a lot of ways.
What revitalizes slavery is a profitable industry, right because it's
it requires a lot. It's for one thing, it's not
nearly as bad for the soil, So you can do

(20:03):
it a lot more. You have you can at least
have the option of kind of doing it indefinitely without
the soil failing if you know what you're doing. It
requires a lot less human labor than tobacco, so you
can grow more wheat with less people, or, as Jefferson
sees it, you can free up a chunk of the
workforce that you own and have them do other things

(20:24):
that make you right while still selling wheat and making
money off of that wheat is also it requires there's
a more like regimented process to grow and harvest and wheat,
which encourages more on the job training and kind of
a more stratified system for like slavery in these in
these communities that you've got. And Jefferson wanted Mont to

(20:45):
sell it a function.

Speaker 4 (20:47):
As a community.

Speaker 3 (20:47):
It's like an independent little society, which means he needed
blacksmiths to forge and repair tools. He needed people to
spin thread and make clothing. There was a tinsmithing operation
on the property. There was a cooper ridge making barrels,
and what we see here. I think it's not worthless
to like tie us to that common kind of rich
white person dream of having your own intentional off grid community.

Speaker 4 (21:09):
In the mountains.

Speaker 3 (21:10):
Only like again, he's not it's not like a cult,
right because they don't have the choice to be there.

Speaker 2 (21:15):
Yeah, and you also didn't.

Speaker 4 (21:17):
But it is like this, yeah, no, no, you're just
telling people to do it right now.

Speaker 3 (21:22):
Yeah, the closer you work to the family, like physically,
the closer you are to the house on the top
of the hill, the higher your place in the slave hierarchy.
Is right, some of the people who are like working
in the house or who were doing stuff like being
a blacksmith would even receive gratuities, as Jefferson called it.
That's what he wrote it out down this which is
basically small amounts of money as like an incentive for

(21:44):
them to work.

Speaker 2 (21:45):
Right.

Speaker 3 (21:45):
Jefferson took a system for human bondage for agricultural profit,
and he modernized it into a semi industrial society, still
based around slavery, but also much more complex than just
kind of these like big arms that had existed previously.
And the anchor of profit for Monticello was his nail factory.

(22:07):
That's what makes the money at Monticello is he has
like an industrial factory for producing huge quantities of nails. Wow,
and the best people to make nails are little kids
on No. Part of why he lands on nails as
a profit engine is that in the tobacco era, large
numbers of children were needed in the field because their

(22:29):
tiny hands could kill the bugs. Right, Like, there was
a lot of child labor that was necessary for tobacco.
It's really not for wheat. But obviously Jefferson isn't gonna
let all this perfectly good child labor go to waste.
He's not excited about this because like, oh, good, these
children get to have a childhood. He's excited because, oh,
I can work them in something more profitable, you know,
oh hell yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. In his Farm Book,

(22:51):
Jefferson writes this to describe the standard plan for the
children born into his property. Quote children till ten years
old to serve as nurses. From ten to six the
boys make nails, the girls spin. At sixteen, go into
the ground or learn trades.

Speaker 2 (23:06):
O sheesh.

Speaker 3 (23:08):
And it's you know, all this stuff in the Farm
Book is a big part of what Winesack bases his
book Master of the Mountain on. We had a lot
of this info about how he's using these like this
child labor system that he consciously crafts for profit, and
it gets hidden. Like one of his biographers, basically, he
doesn't destroy the work, but he just doesn't write about

(23:31):
it when he's like analyzing the farm book for his
for a biography on Jefferson. He like a conscious choice
is made by a lot of historians just to not
go into as much detail as we actually had about
what Jefferson was doing at Monticello because it's ugly.

Speaker 2 (23:46):
Yeah, they're so precious about it. Yeah, like there's I'm
telling you precious about him specifically.

Speaker 1 (23:53):
It doesn't it doesn't quite make sense, right, Like why
is he the equivalent of the white boy of the
month on tik talk but for all of America in death?

Speaker 3 (24:03):
Yeah, it's I think the way they want to portray
him is like I keep going back to an artist,
but like a great musician with a heroin problem. That's
how they want to portray him as, Like, well, he
was great and genius, he was brilliant, he has this
he has this fatal flaw, you know, and like that's tragic,
but it doesn't mean that, you know, he didn't do
a lot of great stuff. Yeah, but like you know,
heroin it could be bad for you, but like you're

(24:26):
not harming other people in a way that is evil necessary?

Speaker 2 (24:31):
Yeah, yeah, multiple families, yeah, come on, Yeah.

Speaker 3 (24:36):
Yeah, like you can destroy like fundamentally your damn it.
And that's kind of how they treat it. Like, yeah,
he had this thing that was like this fatal flaw
where like, no, the man built his own industrial society
around child labor for profit, Like that's what he did.
He knew exactly what he was doing, and he documented it.

(24:58):
Now in that line, he said that like yad, once
everyone's sixteen, they go into the ground or learn trades.
Going into the ground means you're on the lowest rung,
right of the hierarchy you work in in the field, right, Yeah,
And learning a trade, as I said, is like your
best path if you're one of these people to like
some kind of autonomy, right, because the blacksmith, you kind
of just need to let him be the blacksmith, right

(25:19):
you know.

Speaker 2 (25:20):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (25:20):
So if you were a boy before you had chance
to do either of those things, you worked in the nailery, right,
you made nails.

Speaker 4 (25:27):
And that quote I read.

Speaker 3 (25:28):
Earlier makes it sound like the nails are just kind
of part of Jefferson's plan for a self sufficient community,
but the reality is that they are where his money.

Speaker 4 (25:35):
Is coming from.

Speaker 3 (25:36):
For quite a while, the most successful profit earning business
in Monticello, and alone paid for all of his family's food.
The nailer reopened in seventeen ninety four, and in a
seventeen ninety five letter, Jefferson explained his reasons for starting
it in a letter to a French friend. In returning
home after an absence of ten years, I found my
farm so much deranged that I saw evidently that it

(25:56):
was necessary for me to find some other resource.

Speaker 4 (25:58):
In the meantime.

Speaker 3 (25:59):
Cancluded at length to begin a manufacture of nails, which
needs little or no capital. And I now employ a
dozen little boys from ten to sixteen years of age,
overlooking all the details of their business myself, and drawing
from it a profit on which I can get along
until I put my farms into a course of yielding profit.

Speaker 2 (26:15):
Two things I never thought about is, oh, yeah, nails
have to be made, and just you just go to
store and get nails, Like I forgot about that. There's that.
And then secondly I was like, oh, yeah, what was
his farm doing for the ten years he was going?
That was another thing I just I didn't think about
it right now, like yeah, what what? Like who was
was is there any right on it? Who was there?

(26:35):
Like and why didn't thereby.

Speaker 4 (26:37):
Leave Like, yeah, well, we'll talk about that.

Speaker 3 (26:39):
He has white people who are employed as overseers.

Speaker 4 (26:42):
Who he is.

Speaker 3 (26:43):
Some of them are like kind of business partners of his,
but like as part of their job and like being
a partner, they get a cut of like the profits
from the wheat or whatever, but they also have to
manage the overseers who live on the property and a
responsible pity and line.

Speaker 2 (26:57):
Right, you knew that propaganda overseers.

Speaker 3 (27:00):
Yeah, and we'll talk a little bit more about that
later because we have some of his letters to his
overseers while he's in Paris, so we actually know when
he's talking about liberty some of the things he's directing
them to do, and they're pretty ugly. But the other things, yeah, yeah,
you're right, you know, I don't know. I don't have

(27:21):
a good way to lead into the ads. Just just
listen to the ads and we'll come back and talk
about nails and crimes against humanity and we're back. So
Jefferson is managing you know, Monticello from Paris, as we
talked about through like letters and stuff that he sends back,

(27:41):
and the other thing he's doing in Paris is he's
spending shitloads of money and going even more into debt
because he is just not actually capable of living on
like a normal allowance. Right Like Again, for all of
his talk about like autonomy and self discipline, he's never
able to like live within his means. Yes, I always
find funny when he leaves for public office in seventeen

(28:04):
ninety four. He comes back in seventeen eighty nine, but
he leaves public office for a while in seventeen ninety four.
Jefferson is horribly in debt, right Like, he doesn't he
goes even more into debt in France, and he doesn't
get out of it in those like five years where
he's back in the US, but he's still kind of
like working in politics. And around that time, Jefferson states

(28:24):
publicly that he wants to retire, and he kind of
frames this as like I need to get away from,
you know, Washington. I had to get away from like this,
this cutthroat political world so that I can be a farmer.
And he kind of compares himself to Cincinnatus, who is this?
Have you ever heard of Cincinnatus?

Speaker 4 (28:41):
Prop No, he was this.

Speaker 3 (28:43):
He was a Roman general who, like Romans, used to
like elect a dictator, right yeah, when they had like
a problem, right, like there's a war, we're getting invaded,
we need a guy to be in charge for six months.
Cincinnatus was this like farmer who he got all this
power because he was the only guy who could win
this war, and then he gave it all up because
what he really wanted to be was a farmer. That's

(29:04):
what he loved more than anything. I actually don't that
may actually be what Cincinnatus did, but Jefferson likes to
compare himself to Cincinnatus.

Speaker 2 (29:12):
Yeah that's like no.

Speaker 3 (29:14):
One needed you in DC, bro, And like, by the way,
you suck at farming.

Speaker 2 (29:18):
Yeah, the game needs me, guys.

Speaker 3 (29:21):
Yeah yeah, deaf Cincinnatus couldn't grow shit.

Speaker 2 (29:26):
Yeah how about that?

Speaker 4 (29:27):
Uh huh.

Speaker 3 (29:28):
Now, the real reason why he like basically goes into
retirement is that he needs to get a handle on
his debts. He talks to his colleagues in Washington about, like,
I actually can't keep working in politics. I really got
to like fix Monticello, like otherwise I'm gonna lose everything
in American Sphinx Ellis estimates Jefferson's debt at several hundred
thousand dollars. Now, this was a common state of affair

(29:51):
for wealthy quote unquote wealthy Virginia planters. Right, but it's
embarrassing too. And Jefferson attempted to defray his responsibility for
his bad economic situation by blaming his overseers for not
hitting the workers enough. Now it's such a.

Speaker 2 (30:11):
Continued but yeah, yeah it.

Speaker 1 (30:15):
Is.

Speaker 3 (30:15):
It's such like a No, it's not that like I'm
planning things badly. It's not that I picked a bad
location for a working farm, right, Like, fundamentally a lot
of this comes down to Monticello is a bad place
to do what he's trying to do. But like he
can't accept any of that, so he's got to find
someone to blame. And it's like, well, my overseers aren't
strict enough, you know, that's got to be.

Speaker 4 (30:35):
That's got to be what's going on?

Speaker 2 (30:37):
Taught him?

Speaker 1 (30:37):
Location, location location.

Speaker 2 (30:39):
No, you know, it's middle management. You know these managers
they don't want to work. Did you hire all them?

Speaker 1 (30:47):
Was it?

Speaker 4 (30:47):
Yeah?

Speaker 2 (30:48):
You hired them all?

Speaker 3 (30:49):
Right? Yeah, and so this is entirely you yeah, yeah, yeah,
so and I you know, I think it's one of
those things he can't admit this public. I think he knows,
and part of why we I think he knows is
that he writes this in a letter to his daughter
during this period. The unprofitable condition of Virginia estates in general,

(31:10):
leaves it next to impossible for the holder of one
to avoid ruin, and this condition will continue until some
change takes place in the mode of working them. In
the meantime, nothing can save us and our children from
beggary but a determination to get a year beforehand and
restrain ourselves vigorously to the clear profits of the last.
And I find that fascinating because he's admitting, well, it
seems like none of these big Virginia farms, that our

(31:31):
whole culture is based on, these huge plantations, basically none
of them work right, none of them can like actually
make a profit. We're all horribly in debt and it's
getting worse every year.

Speaker 2 (31:42):
Uh huh.

Speaker 3 (31:43):
Maybe our whole culture is wrong. Maybe we built a
bad society. He's like, no, we need more financial discipline.

Speaker 2 (31:53):
Yeah, yeah, you're not. Like, I don't know, guys, Maybe
there's maybe just ain't working.

Speaker 4 (31:58):
Yeah. Maybe we built a civilization and we should start over.

Speaker 2 (32:02):
I love it.

Speaker 4 (32:02):
Maybe without the slaves.

Speaker 2 (32:04):
I hate it, but I love it.

Speaker 1 (32:05):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (32:06):
Yeah, So he refused to actually live within his means,
and he refused to sell his lands past a certain
point because he saw his land as his only real wealth,
and thus that's what he was going to pass down
to his kids. He did attempt to make a business
out of wheat, but he was dogshit at this, just
like he was dogshit at everything he tried to do
with farms. Jefferson actually operated seven farms on his vast holdings,

(32:28):
but only about ten percent of the acreagch he owned
was actually under cultivation. So when he hit upon nails
as a business, he treated it as a life preserver,
making it the focus of his day to day exertions.
This passage from American Sphinx describes how much of a
personal focus Jefferson made of his new nail business.

Speaker 4 (32:45):
Quote.

Speaker 3 (32:46):
Every morning except Sunday, he walked over to the nailery
soon after dawn to weigh out the nail rod for
each worker, then returned at dusk to weigh the nails
each had made and calculated how much iron had been
wasted by the most and least efficient workers. Isaac Jefferson
recalled that his former master made it clear to all
hands that the nailery was a personal priority and that
special privileges would be accorded the best nail makers. He

(33:07):
gave the boys in the nail factory a pound of
meat a week. He gave them that worked the best
a suit of red or blue, and encouraged them mightily.
Jefferson even added the nailary to his familiar refrain in
the pastoral mode, I am so much immersed in farming
and nail making. He reported in the fall of seventeen
ninety four that politics are entirely banished from my mind. Now, wow,

(33:28):
this is not I think it's worth emphasizing, like a
tiny picturesque blacksmith shop. This is a little factory. Right Yeah,
it is dirty, and it is loud, and it is
maybe not dangerous compared to the work most adults were doing,
but it is very dangerous work for children.

Speaker 1 (33:43):
Right Like.

Speaker 3 (33:44):
It makes money though, right Like, it's actually very profitable.
And this is kind of another example of him being
a hypocrite, because he writes a lot about like industrialization
and like what's happening in you know, back in Great
Britain during the early Industrial Revolution, is like hideous and
he has all this like these hippie back to the
land ethos that he expresses a lot in writing. But
the only real money making venture he was good at

(34:07):
was like a nail factory.

Speaker 2 (34:09):
Industrializing is industrializing?

Speaker 3 (34:11):
Yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, a child powered nail factory.

Speaker 2 (34:15):
Yeah, bro, Like, come on, man, where's your self awareness?

Speaker 4 (34:18):
The great man?

Speaker 2 (34:19):
Yeah, it's just gone.

Speaker 3 (34:21):
It also represented an efficiency that he found attractive. He
seems to have been bothered on some fundamental level by
the idea that enslaved young boys would spend their time idle,
having like a childhood or whatever. He wrote that the
nailery made him happy because quote it would employ a
parcel of boys who would otherwise be idle. That ellis
quote I included earlier includes a line about how he

(34:43):
would reward his best workers with extra meat, you know,
better clothes, But Winesack points out that he really treated
them as part of like a mechanism by which he
managed his society, like this is a machine to him,
that's what's happening here.

Speaker 4 (34:56):
Quote.

Speaker 3 (34:57):
Those who did well received a new suit of clothes,
and they it also expect to graduate, as it were,
to training as artisans, rather than going in the ground
as common field slaves. Some nail boys rose in the
plantation hierarchy to become house servants, blacksmiths, carpenters, or Cooper's.

Speaker 2 (35:11):
So yeah, yeah, you stratify, you stratify, Yeah, the slaves
in a way that pits us against each other. Yeah nah,
it's and then you're fighting for scraps. Yeah, yeah, you're
doing like there's there's that version of it, the evil version.
And there's also the fact that like you are using
this almost as a training program to to fill out

(35:33):
positions in the rest of the property, right, like, and
that's part of those traps. And it's so efficient, like
this this wheel by which he yeah, no, I get it.
These are transferable skills. You know that, if he were
a decent man, would be like, I'm giving you job training,
so you can go anywhere. You're not to make you
can go anywhere, get a job. You know what I'm saying, Like, yeah,

(35:54):
but that's not what you're doing because you can't go Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4 (35:57):
That is right.

Speaker 3 (35:58):
So two months after starting the name factory, he wrote
that it quote now provides completely for the maintenance of
my family. The first two months of labor by his
nail boys prayed for the entire yearly grocery bill of
Jefferson's family. Right, that's how big a deal this is
for him. In seventeen ninety six, his gross income from
nails was like two thousand dollars, which is, you know,

(36:19):
pretty good money. Back then, his main competitor, this says
a lot, was the local prison.

Speaker 2 (36:27):
Oh my god.

Speaker 4 (36:28):
Yeah yeah.

Speaker 2 (36:29):
Oh the hell is this world? Okay, so fucked up?

Speaker 3 (36:38):
Yeah, you can see why his biographers for years would
like hide this shit, right, yeah, Like it doesn't match
any of the other things that they want people to
believe about the man.

Speaker 1 (36:49):
They were like, if we take out, you know, the
fact that he was a pedophile, an abusive piece of shit,
a terrible business owner, yeah.

Speaker 2 (37:02):
Yeah, they wrote his life the way he wrote the Bible.

Speaker 3 (37:05):
Yeah right, yeah, yeah exactly, kind.

Speaker 2 (37:09):
Of remove all the shit I don't like.

Speaker 4 (37:11):
Yeah yeah, yeah, it's it's it's something else.

Speaker 3 (37:16):
So it's probably worth noting that the nailery did involve
labor from some young free white boys as well. They
were paid fifty cents a day on Saturdays to feed
the fire that were only allowed to work at Saturdays
because they had school to go to right. Yeah, so
Jefferson is capable of understanding yeah right, like what the
actual decent thing.

Speaker 2 (37:35):
To do would be a cave man guys.

Speaker 3 (37:37):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, well there is One of the stories
here I found is like there's you get this little
piece of like kind of some of the inherent decency
of some of the little kids, like some of his
kids and grandkids, because his grandchildren were known to volunteer
at the nailory sometimes so that the boys that Thomas
owned could go take days off to go fishing. Wow,

(38:00):
so you get little legs again. Other people are capable
of treating them like people, right, Yeah, Jefferson, isn't I
found that interesting?

Speaker 2 (38:08):
You gotta yeah, without oversimplifying, but like you got to
beat the humanity out of that kid. Yeah you know
what I mean, because the kid looks at him and goes, well,
he's a kid, Like I'm a kid. He sucks. He's
there every day. Yeah, dude, look bro, I can do
I can do at least a date. You know what
I'm saying.

Speaker 4 (38:24):
Yeah, it is.

Speaker 2 (38:24):
And someone has to come and tell you, yeah, well no,
because yeah you're not property.

Speaker 3 (38:32):
Yeah yeah, they don't need days off, they don't really
want them, they're fine. You have to like lie and
abuse people to get them like that. I think it's
such an interesting example of just like, well, yeah, these
kids just notice that these other kids don't get to
have a childhood and did something about it.

Speaker 2 (38:48):
Right.

Speaker 3 (38:49):
Interesting The little bits like that you get, I guess
are also maybe one of the ways that these kids
get to speak a little bit out into history, like
the y beach that was denied them. But you have
to assume, you have to assume the kind of communication
that like led to that, like even if it was
just communication, like, wow, these kids look obviously unhappy here.

Speaker 2 (39:12):
Yeah.

Speaker 4 (39:13):
I thought about that a lot after reading.

Speaker 2 (39:14):
Yeah, such a human moment, you know.

Speaker 4 (39:17):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (39:17):
So, back during his years in France and when he'd
written notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson had written
at length his belief that black people were not mentally
capable of being free. Right, That's a big part of
like how he defends himself to these like French intellectuals.
The success he'd had in turning Monticello into a functioning
complex industrial society made some of his or semi industrial society,

(39:41):
made some of his French friends who came and visited
him at Monticello, Like Duke de la Rochefucoli and Court
basically be like, I know what you said about these folks,
but like it seems like they're capable of doing all
sorts of very complicated jobs that are everything they'd need
to do in order to live independently and free.

Speaker 2 (39:56):
Right, seem pretty smart to me.

Speaker 3 (39:57):
They seem like they're capable of building an entire society
on their own.

Speaker 2 (40:01):
Basically, you're telling me these people, case of the people
that built your house, Yeah, unable to survive on their own.

Speaker 4 (40:08):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (40:08):
Yeah, it seems like they have a lot of the
same kinds of skills that we consider skilled labor in
outside of society. And so like Duke de la Roche Fucolianchor,
who's like one of his friends who visits Monticello, is
so impressed that he's like, Hey, this is great. This
means you can like free these people, right, Like you've
taught them all this, so like now they can be free, right, Thomas.

Speaker 2 (40:30):
Remember what you said when we was in France about that,
Like it seemed like the problem solved.

Speaker 3 (40:34):
Yeah, So we're doing that, right, do we do we?

Speaker 1 (40:37):
Right? Yeah?

Speaker 2 (40:37):
Yeah?

Speaker 3 (40:38):
The Duke recorded Jefferson's response this way quote, he sees
so many difficulties in their emancipation, and he had so
many conditions to render it practicable that it is thus
reduced to the impossible and it's too hard.

Speaker 4 (40:51):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (40:51):
Part of why he does that, or why jeff like
Jefferson's argument is again, it comes down to race mixing,
right yeah. Like he's like, if we free these then
they'll inevitably going to like Mary and have children with
white people, right yeah. Part of his justification to this
guy is like, again, it all comes down to race mixing.
He's been doing this for a while since France. And

(41:11):
what's interesting to me is not like the specifics of
his beliefs on like this kind of stuff and how
it ties. I mean, it is interesting that it ties
into scientific racism, which Jefferson usually doesn't get blamed for,
and he is very much a part of that. But
what's really interesting to me is that, like, first off,
he's actively doing this thing. Yes that like he says,

(41:33):
is this reason why these people can't be free?

Speaker 2 (41:35):
Yes?

Speaker 3 (41:35):
Second, it's as a public figure, right, he supports brutal
punishments for this, as I noted earlier, when he's revising
Virginia's slave code. He proposes that any white woman who
gives birth to mix mixed race children be cast out
from protection of the law. But a few years earlier,
right after he'd finished notes on the State of Virginia,

(41:56):
he sold one of the women he owned to a
white man with the understanding that she would be freed
by him and they would live his husband and wife. Right,
And he was willing to do this. This guy is
a friend of his, So you get this mix of like, well,
he clearly doesn't actually have a problem with this, but
he thinks it's very important in public to have a
problem with this.

Speaker 2 (42:16):
Yeah, and God, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's to have books, right, right.

Speaker 3 (42:25):
Yeah, Now, where I think this gets most disgusting is
in his public protestations of his gentleness as a master.
He would drop lines like I love industry and abhor severity, right, basically,
like I love it when people are working. I hate
the idea of like God forbid you know, having to
punish you know, these people, Oh, what a horrible thought. Right,

(42:47):
And he would regularly in his public writings attack overseers.

Speaker 2 (42:50):
Right.

Speaker 3 (42:51):
He called them degraded, unprincipled, violent people, which in many
cases they were that's not an all fair thing, right, yes,
but he's also hiring these guys.

Speaker 1 (43:00):
Was like, yeah, like so fucking fake.

Speaker 2 (43:03):
Yeah yeah this this this is it. You're not like
this this this the Thomas Jefferson I know. Yeah, you know,
just like about the whole you know, misigenation. And then
like we're all like Nikki, you have like twenty nine
black children, like were you talking about? And and it
also brings up an interesting point about how like there

(43:24):
was a time that like having a mixed relationship was
an act of protest.

Speaker 4 (43:33):
Yeah you know that.

Speaker 2 (43:34):
That's like such an interesting moment where it was like, no,
this is this is me being a part of the revolution,
you know, such a it's a weird position to be.
You know, it's just wow, I just I don't know,
I just think about that stuff. And then yeah and
then publicly yeah anyway, yeah that's sad. And then yeah,
and and the overseer thing, this like of the many

(43:59):
things that are so inferior rating. It's just like not
only are not only you're calling yourself a farmer who
don't do no damn farming, you know what I'm saying. Now, Now,
now you you get somebody, you get a goon basically,
you know, to do the shit that you ain't got
the you ain't got the stomach to do anyway because
you know you're wrong. And then you got the nerve
to stand by and be like, well, I hate we

(44:21):
have to do this. I wish you would just like
just comply. I don't want to have to get the Yeah.

Speaker 1 (44:27):
I hate it, but you.

Speaker 2 (44:30):
Yeah, you just if you'd have just worked until you die,
you know, I know it's.

Speaker 3 (44:37):
Friday and I hate to do this.

Speaker 4 (44:40):
Yeah, totally, you kinda have to work forever. Yeah, like
it's it's and it's interesting.

Speaker 3 (44:44):
Like again he gets such a there's so many historians,
even up to the pretty recent period, are willing to
like go to bad about like how relatively nice he is.
But Jefferson, not only is he hiring overseers, He's not
just it's not just that. Like, while he hires overseers
because everybody does, you have to have someone to watch
it for you. He hires overseers and talks about the
violence he wants them to do. Right, Wow, And we're

(45:07):
going to get into that, but first, here's an awkward
ad break.

Speaker 4 (45:16):
And we're back.

Speaker 3 (45:17):
So the standard punishment for a slave who tried to
escape and got caught was what was called an iron collar.
This is a torture device that forces spikes up behind
each ear, so that if the person with the collar
turns their head, they are like stabbing themselves.

Speaker 2 (45:36):
Basically.

Speaker 3 (45:37):
Now, this is a famously evil thing, right like when
people in Europe are talking about the horrible evil of
the American system, these collars are one of the things
that get written about, right and Jefferson and notes in
the State of Virginia, which is again him trying to
defend the United States to France, writes about how these
are one of the worst parts of this really cruel,

(45:57):
hideous system. Nine he ordered his property manager to purchase
a load of callers.

Speaker 4 (46:04):
Weinsek.

Speaker 3 (46:04):
In his exploration of Jefferson's farm book and correspondence, lays
out a clear pattern. Jefferson often says the right thing,
or at least the less cruel thing, but then acts
with as much cruelty as any other master. He cites
the seventeen ninety two letter by Jefferson to his executive overseer,
Colonel Randolph, about replacing a retiring overseer and the need

(46:25):
to balance Cruelty and Goodness quote. In his response to Randolph,
Jefferson also wrote, my first wish is that the laborers
may be well treated. But what it appears at first
glance to be an ironclad declaration of principle turns out
to be just what Jefferson said. It was a wish,
and it was qualified by a second wish that they
may enable me to have that treatment continued by making

(46:49):
as much as will admit it. You see what he's
saying there, Like I want to treat them well, and
I hope they make me enough money that I don't
have to have them beat right.

Speaker 4 (46:58):
Yeah, that's what he says.

Speaker 2 (47:00):
Hey, you know, yeah, I look, dude, this is look nobody,
I don't want this. Yeah, but like if you like
basically you're choosing it, like if you choose not to
because it's your choice, Yeah, choosing not to be compliant
and work hard. Look if the system works, if you
work the system.

Speaker 3 (47:18):
Just right, Yeah, yeah, that is exactly like, Yeah, what
he's saying here. I'm going to continue that quote from
win Sex book. First, this was Jefferson's contract with the slaves.
I wish to treat you well, but if you do
not produce enough, there will be harsh measures. Second, it
was Jefferson's contract with himself. Having made this mental compact
with the slaves, he could absolve himself from blame for
anything unpleasant.

Speaker 4 (47:39):
The slaves were at.

Speaker 3 (47:40):
Fault, right, So he's doing this, he's expressing this because
that way he can be like, well, we have this
agreement and you guys didn't make enough, right, it's not
me having you punished.

Speaker 1 (47:51):
You know.

Speaker 2 (47:52):
There's his through line. His through line is dang, it's
it's all clear. Now. His through nine. His through line
is I'm going to find a way to absolve myself,
Like whatever we're doing, no matter what it is, I'm
going to provide myself an out. And that's continually what
he continues to do, like as a politician, as a farmer,

(48:14):
as a husband, as a father, and now in this
in this context, it's like, oh, but yeah, he's always
finding himself an out.

Speaker 4 (48:22):
Right, right, Yeah, that's that's the guy.

Speaker 2 (48:25):
Yeah, that's that guy.

Speaker 4 (48:27):
All of this, if it can be made.

Speaker 3 (48:29):
More infuriating, it is made more infuriating by the reality
of Jefferson's correspondence with a man named Benjamin Banneker.

Speaker 4 (48:38):
Have you heard, Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know Benjamin h.

Speaker 2 (48:42):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (48:42):
Now Banneker was born to well that we were not
entirely certain, but probably was born to two free black
parents in Maryland.

Speaker 1 (48:50):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (48:51):
Educated as a he was educated as a child. He's
taught to read. It's arithmetic, and he inherits some land
which he farms with considerably more aptitude than Thomas Jefferson
farmed anything.

Speaker 2 (49:01):
Right.

Speaker 3 (49:01):
Yes, Now, Bannicker was an early mathematician, and he was
in fact so able at mathematics that by the late
seventeen hundreds he had a popular almanac that Jefferson and
many other Americans used, like puts out a really good
and an almanac.

Speaker 4 (49:16):
You have to think about. An almanac is like it's
like an.

Speaker 3 (49:19):
iPhone, right, it is a it is a the product
of intense science that is absolutely necessary for your day
to day life if you're a farmer, right, And it's
it's impressive being able to like understand astronomy and all
that kind of stuff, like well enough to to make
a good almanac is difficult. At age twenty one, an

(49:40):
ideaf how smart this guy is. When he's twenty one
years old, Banneker borrows a pocket watch from a friend,
and carves his own functioning watch out of wood based
on the pocket watch he borrows that like works his
whole life, just a like you know, a polymath.

Speaker 4 (49:57):
Right, yeah, I need a.

Speaker 2 (49:58):
Double check my my history. But I believe he designed
this the disc of Washington, DC.

Speaker 4 (50:04):
Oh did he? I didn't know that.

Speaker 2 (50:05):
Yeah, he designed the roads, yeah, Jesus Yeah. Yeah, like
so that was like one of those things that I
I that was one of the yeah, one of the things. Yes, Yeah,
he established the borders of District of Columbia. So like
he actually designed Jesus Rose. Now granted they're very annoying now,
but that's because they were made for then, you know
what I'm saying. But he definitely designed him.

Speaker 3 (50:27):
You can't blame him for not assuming DC would ever
get that big Yeah, of course.

Speaker 2 (50:32):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (50:32):
So Jefferson had cited, if you remember back to I
think our second episode, he had cited some of his
evidence and notes in the City of Virginia when he
when he wrote out, well here's why I think white
people are superior. One of it was that he hadn't
run into a black man who knew Euclid. Right, Well,
here's a black mathematician who is definitely better at math
than utah us. Right, Yes, you would think like, well,

(50:54):
maybe that talking to this guy should have some impact
on him. Right. And in seventeen ninety one, Anniker actually
sends Jefferson a letter and he he quotes the Declaration
of Independence back to Jefferson and is like, hey, man,
like what the fuck?

Speaker 2 (51:10):
Right?

Speaker 3 (51:10):
Like, He's still like, how can you write all this
and do this? And I love the way he gets
Tom's ass here quote this is Bannecker. But sir, how
pitiable is it to reflect that although you were so
fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind,
and of his equal and impartial distribution of those rights
and privileges which he had conferred upon them, that you
should at the same time counteract his mercies and detaining

(51:33):
by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren,
under groaning, captivity, and cruel oppression, that you should at
the same time be found guilty of that most criminal
act which you professedly detested in others with respect to yourselves,
He's like, where I'm standing here as bad as the
King was.

Speaker 2 (51:50):
Yes, you sound just like yeah, you ain't shit.

Speaker 4 (51:53):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (51:54):
And also What I love too about that, that is
the him saying like, you're doing this to my brethren,
because even in a brains freed, intelligent black people were like,
well they're different, Like that's the exception, Like you not,
these are that's what y'all normally like you and section

(52:16):
like no they me yeah, wear them they're no, No,
that's my brothers. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (52:22):
And that's kind of what Jefferson does, is he like
he says to he praises Bannicker, He's like, you're a
credit to your race basically, right, yeah, Like, but he
won't he's not willing to admit that, like, and this
means I was wrong, right, And therefore it turns out
if you just let people go to school, some of
them will learn about YOUU clip, you know, like they
did it Tom. Yeah, yeah, he does right basically that like, well,

(52:46):
I guess maybe this does show that that you black
people are intellectually equal to white people. And he writes,
I can add with truth that nobody wishes more ardently
to see a good system commenced for raising the condition
of both their body and mind to what it ought
to be. So again, he's not willing to count. He
says all this, but then he doesn't do anything about it. Yeah,
and after Banniker dies, in that letter he had said,

(53:09):
I'm going to send your almanac off to this French philosopher.
I know he'll be so impressed. And then as soon
as Bannicker dies, Jefferson's like he lied about.

Speaker 4 (53:16):
Writing that almanac.

Speaker 3 (53:17):
Couldn't have been him, Yeah, couldn't have been him. I
don't think it was him.

Speaker 2 (53:20):
Yeah, I don't think he did that anyway.

Speaker 4 (53:23):
Anyway, that guy made a lot.

Speaker 2 (53:25):
Of great points. Man, it seems that it seems that
the Negro could really learn anything. Anyway.

Speaker 3 (53:31):
Yeah, in eighteen hundred, TJ was elected to the presidency. Now,
I should note that when I asked this question of
my search engine to double check the AI summaries at
eighteen oh one, which is wrong. So again, don't trust
these AI summary things. They get really basic shit wrong.
This is not a hard question to answer, and.

Speaker 1 (53:50):
Didn't want to know more. Listen to a better offline.

Speaker 2 (53:52):
Yeah on this network, yep, yop, yop.

Speaker 3 (53:57):
Now you would assume right that now that to mus president, right,
this would be theer if he really did have deeply
held beliefs about emancipation. Well, now, he's literally the president.
He should be able to do something, right.

Speaker 2 (54:08):
Yeah, I was like, we always we had power, now
we have it.

Speaker 3 (54:12):
Yeah, yeah, he does worse than nothing. So Jefferson is
a Francophile, right, really loves France, really loves the French,
and he loves the French Revolution.

Speaker 4 (54:22):
And you know, being that guy.

Speaker 3 (54:24):
Once he becomes president, he is happy to be approached
by Louis Pischon the charge a fair of the French Republic,
which talked a good game about liberty, but was also
at that point in the process of trying to crush
the first successful slave rebellion of the modern era in Haiti.
And this is obviously, this is when Napoleon is running things,
and at this point it's not Haiti at Sandamang. Now

(54:47):
that successful revolution had as its most prominent leader, one
of the most impressive men of that century, to Saint Loeviture.
Right now, Pichon wanted to know what the third President
would do if France sent its army to San Domain.
And here's how Thomas Fleming, former president of the Society
of American Historians, describes his response. Jefferson's reply exceeded Pichon's

(55:09):
most sanguine hopes. The new president urged Pichan to tell
his government that that America was eager to help restore
French rule in San Domain. He was pleased that France
wanted to send an army to crush the Black rebels.
Nothing would be easier for us than to furnish your
army and fleet with everything and to reduce to Saint
to starvation. Jefferson said, So again, this guy who's like

(55:31):
the inevitable world revolution for liberty has started as soon
as the Haitians overthrow their slave masters, goes, well, yeah,
we got to starve with those people to death.

Speaker 2 (55:39):
Well that's different.

Speaker 4 (55:40):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's out of them.

Speaker 2 (55:43):
Yeah, and that's around the corner. Like, that's cool. We
could send him down there.

Speaker 3 (55:47):
That's easy, be easy as hell for us. Yeah, we
had lots of boats, so I should note that. Well,
the obviously, you know, the story of the international community
fucking over Haiti is a long one. That's what we've
done several episodes on it. Yeah, the French do capture
to Saint. He dies in captivity, but their whole army
is either you know, a lot of them die by rebels,

(56:07):
and like I think most of them it's just the
yellow fever, right, Yeah, anyway, it does not go well,
they do not, Yeah, but their attempt is so brutal
that in the wake of their failure, a rebel general
named Jean Jacques de Saline's massacres every French white person
he can get his hands on and makes himself the
new ruler of what he starts to call Haiti. Right,

(56:28):
So thanks for that, Thomas, great work. Now, Jefferson had
often expressed his terror at the inevitability of a race
war if emancipation didn't proceed on very specific ever shifting
lines the reality, and I think that's why this story
is worth telling. Part of why, obviously it's worth telling
for a lot of reasons, is that Jefferson himself provokes

(56:49):
a race war by betraying his own stated revolutionary beliefs,
the instant a group of slaves freese themselves, and tries
to start a republic.

Speaker 4 (56:57):
Yes, yeah, that guy. Yeah, that guy.

Speaker 3 (57:01):
So people might get frustrated that we're not really going
to cover his presidency in detail, his beliefs about manifest destiny,
his role in the ideological underpinnings of US colonial expansionism,
because again, there was just so much to say specifically
about Jefferson and slavery, and I really wanted to keep
us focused on that. I do think there's one more

(57:22):
aspect of his president, or of his life as it
results relates to slavery, that is worth discussing. And this
brings me to a guy named Edward Coles. Coles came
from old money, a family with a pedigree at least
as impressive as Jefferson's own. Like Thomas, he inherited land,
and eventually he inherited a bunch of human beings. Like Jefferson,

(57:42):
in his youth, it became clear to him that slavery
was evil and the system had to be destroyed. Unlike Jefferson,
Coles actually believed this. He was influenced by the death
of George Washington, who had come to similar conclusions about
slavery and wrote in his will that his domestics should
be freed after his death. Now, the reality is that
about half only about half the people held at Mount

(58:03):
Vernon remained like got freed in relatively short order. About
half of them were slaves in many cases for decades afterwards.
But it would be accurate to say that Washington was
more committed to emancipating the people he owned than Jefferson
would prove to be. Yeah. That said, for the purposes
of what Coles see his important it's that Washington is
seen as having made a real commitment to emancipation. Right, So,

(58:25):
when his own father dies, Coles tells his family right away,
I'm going to free all of the family slaves. His
family calls this folly and attacks him for giving up
the comforts his parents had worked so hard to gain.

Speaker 2 (58:37):
He's going to piss away.

Speaker 3 (58:40):
Yeah, yeah, it is like that's it is like, yeah, yeah,
that is exactly how they talk about it. Now, this
was such a problem that his brother, who had been
Thomas Jefferson's personal secretary, gets Cole's a job offer from
the next president, James Madison as his private secretary. Coles
decides he's going to turn the job down because he

(59:00):
really wants to make emancipating all of these people he's
inherited a priority. But James Monroe basically convinces him that, like,
if you do this, if you get this job, you'll
get into that you can change the system from the inside.
If you really want to fight for emancipation, this will
teach you how to do it more effectively. Right, So
he makes that call, you know, for a while, and

(59:21):
he spends five years living in luxury at the White House,
being waited on hand and foot and seeing how men
like the President lived while regularly encountering coffles of chained
slaves being marched from the Oxen Block makes him angrier
and angrier, and in eighteen fourteen, he decides to reach
out to former President Jefferson. And his thinking here is like,

(59:43):
I don't think I can do this from inside. We
have to have some kind of big movement that's going
to lead us to emancipation. And you're the profit of liberty, right,
Can you help me with this? Yeah?

Speaker 4 (59:54):
Do you want to do this together?

Speaker 3 (59:56):
You know, he writes, to.

Speaker 2 (59:57):
Bring that same energy. You remember all of the stuff
he co Yeah.

Speaker 3 (01:00:00):
Yeah, it seems like this used to matter to you.
Can we try it? He writes in one letter, My
object is to entreat and beseech you to exert your
knowledge and influence and devising and getting into operations some
plan for the gradual emancipation of slavery. Coles wanted Jefferson
to help him write a general emancipation plan for Virginia
and introduce it to the state. Jefferson gave him a

(01:00:23):
semi polite fuck you, saying like, yes, slavery is bad,
but just that too many Americans, you know, you and
I get how evil this is, but there's just too
many people who don't get it, you know. Particularly you
know who was really to blame. It's the young people.
You know, they don't really love liberty the way my
generation did. He is disappointing, Yeah, disappointing, but they don't
like it liberty the way I do.

Speaker 2 (01:00:45):
And it was there. I mean, it's and it's on
them anyway. You remember that, as you said last time,
it's like kids will figure it out. They don't love liberty.

Speaker 4 (01:00:51):
Yeah, it is, it is.

Speaker 3 (01:00:53):
He does kind of start that ball rolling too, all
of our great democratic traditions. Fuck them kids, the kids.

Speaker 2 (01:01:05):
That should that should be the T shirt, Thomas Jefferson some.

Speaker 4 (01:01:08):
Fuck them kids.

Speaker 2 (01:01:10):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (01:01:11):
Now, At the same time, he argued that the fight
for emancipation was the responsibility of the young. He's just
too old and tired to do it now. Cole's was
left alone and his credit He's like eventually like, well, okay,
I guess I can't do this, right. I can't make
the country fix this problem. So you know what I
am going to do is not be a fucking hypocrite.
And he travels with he takes the seventeen people he owns,

(01:01:34):
and he purchases like one hundred and sixty acres for
each of them, along with a bunch of farming equipment
and sets them all up independently on free farms.

Speaker 2 (01:01:42):
Let's go.

Speaker 4 (01:01:43):
He actually does the thing.

Speaker 2 (01:01:45):
Dude, It was already a nail. Like your first nail
in the coffin is when the guy goes, well, no,
take the job, because you can change him. You could
work from within, you could be the you could be
the adult in the room. Like listen, guys, Yeah, that
don't work man.

Speaker 1 (01:01:59):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (01:02:01):
You can't sway an institution like that.

Speaker 4 (01:02:03):
Yeah. And he does eventually like realize, do the right thing.

Speaker 2 (01:02:09):
Yeah, so that's nice.

Speaker 3 (01:02:11):
Another one of Thomas Jefferson's friends was the revolutionary war
hero Thatius Kosyusko who leaves Jefferson. This is one of
his friends who, like is, becomes an abolitionist, right, and
he's frustrated that Jefferson. You know, Jefferson's always got these excuses,
and so when he dies Thtius is like, here's twenty grand.

(01:02:31):
Here's a bunch of money. You can use, like half
of it on your own debts, use the rest to
free your slaves and buy them land and equipment for
them to farm. Right, I'm giving you the money pays
toll even solve a bunch of your problems, right, Damn.

Speaker 2 (01:02:46):
I'm giving you to buy it like I'm putting my money. Look, man,
I'm a pony up. Yeah no, excuse bro, Yeah yeah.

Speaker 3 (01:02:53):
And he he makes Jefferson the executor of his will,
so it should be Jefferson's job to do this. Jefferson refuses.
He just doesn't do it. He doesn't take the money.
Yeah from Master of the Mountain quote. If Jefferson had
accepted Kazuyusko's bequest, as much as half of it would
have gone not to Jefferson, but in effect to his slaves,

(01:03:14):
to the purchase price for land, livestock, equipment, and transportation
to get them started in a place such as Illinois
or Ohio. Moreover, the slaves most suited for immediate emancipation,
Smith's Cooper's carpenters, the most skilled farmers were the very
ones whom Jefferson most wanted to keep. He also shrank
from any public identification with the cause of emancipation. So
part of why he does it is he just doesn't
want to get into the debate, right, he's a political

(01:03:39):
Oh my god. Yeah, that's such a vile thing. Like
your friend, literally, and you were in a horrible debt.

Speaker 2 (01:03:46):
You can Yeah, he removed every possible obstacle. Yeah, Jefferson
still wouldn't do it and still wasn't down.

Speaker 4 (01:03:53):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (01:03:54):
Thomas Jefferson died July fourth, eighteen twenty six, leaving a
debt of more than one hundred and seven thousand dollars
for his children to manage. Monticello never became an engine
of profit, at least not one that could generate enough
money to cover the interest on his debts. He died delusional,
sure a public lottery would be created to pay for
his daughter and her family to keep Monticello and his slaves,

(01:04:17):
But within a year, his descendants had sold the land,
everything inside the house, the famous house itself, and one
hundred and thirty human beings. Only seven of the people
that he'd owned were freed, and only five of those
people were freed by Jefferson in his will and again Washington,
who's not at all a saint here freeze about half
of the people at Mount Vernon, So even by that standard,

(01:04:40):
not a great guy.

Speaker 1 (01:04:42):
No.

Speaker 3 (01:04:43):
Yeah, there's a quote about Jefferson as an abolitionist or
an emancipator. That's like, never did a man get more
credit for that which he did not do?

Speaker 2 (01:04:51):
And yeah that is a dope quote. Yeah, yeah, never
did a man get mo credit for some he do?

Speaker 4 (01:05:00):
God dog.

Speaker 2 (01:05:02):
Yeah, well prop that's the episodes, all right, man, I'm
glad it's as dead.

Speaker 1 (01:05:10):
As he is.

Speaker 4 (01:05:11):
Yeah, yeah, that's kind of where I stand.

Speaker 2 (01:05:15):
Yeah, bro, Like and like you said, like we ain't
even talked about him as a president and Mamith's destiny
and all that shit that like is its own. Yeah
that we be here, We be here till till December
talking about all that.

Speaker 3 (01:05:28):
Right right, Yeah, there's a lot more to say about him,
but yeah, I think we've done.

Speaker 2 (01:05:32):
No, this is perfect because it's no, this is definitely
perfect because it's like you need something to say, like
before a person gets into the hero status, let us
remember that this man ain't no hero, you know, and
I I just you know us, we follow politics, we

(01:05:53):
follow geopolitics, we follow all this stuff, and there may
be characters who may step up and may do something
that's like, oh, that's cool. You know, it's eight points
for your team, you know. But like, like, let's think
about this dude that you're trying to give, you know,
trying to give some give dap to like that man
is not your friend, you know, and and people need

(01:06:15):
to just yeah, like like this is important. It's just
like how yo, antenna's up before you start, like man
is that man is not a hero. And I'm so
glad you did this and I got to be a
part of it so I can make fun of him.
But I will say this, I will say this. I
believe that there's I might be pulling this out of
my ass just like him. A gathering of his descendants

(01:06:40):
like that that continues and that they're like, we need
our money. Like you know, I'm saying like, yo, like
this is what you promised us. We need where our
money at. And I'm like, I hope they get their money. Yeah,
I mean I hope we all get our money in operations.

Speaker 3 (01:06:59):
But it still, yeah, I'm supportive of preparations. I will
have to say he didn't have any money when her
you can take it all literally, never.

Speaker 1 (01:07:11):
Do that so funny.

Speaker 2 (01:07:13):
It's like, yeah, hey, I'll write your check, bro, you know,
just don't cash it till Tuesday.

Speaker 3 (01:07:20):
Yeah. Uh classic welch prop. You have a podcast Tics.

Speaker 2 (01:07:27):
Of Politics with pop with pop YEP with Soda and yeah,
where I kind of teach you how to like hey
U Joe Antennas like don't trust that, don't trust him
over there. That boy ain't no good.

Speaker 4 (01:07:40):
You know what I'm saying.

Speaker 2 (01:07:42):
Yeah, no, so that Yeah, seasons cranking, really trying to
like step our game up. We're doing hood politics for eyeballs.
Also that I've attempted to remove this the swear words
from so that, like you know, you can if you're
if you're so inclined to have ears around that you're

(01:08:02):
trying to keep swear words away from I got one
for you, what I'm saying, excellent, And I got a book,
poetry book, terra form.

Speaker 4 (01:08:11):
That's right, that's right.

Speaker 1 (01:08:13):
If you don't do some kind of project called you
know what I'm saying, I feel like.

Speaker 2 (01:08:17):
We're I don't know what it is.

Speaker 3 (01:08:22):
I don't know what it is yet, you know what, Like.

Speaker 2 (01:08:27):
I know right before I even send off the audio
to Matt. I go through and edit them out. I say,
I say, it's so much, it's embarrassing. When I listen
back to myself, it'll be like, you know what I'm saying.
So it's like I have all the time. Yeah, one day,

(01:08:47):
you know what I'm gonna do.

Speaker 1 (01:08:48):
Just for you.

Speaker 2 (01:08:48):
I'm going to chop them all and put them on
one file and.

Speaker 1 (01:08:51):
Just like, oh I want to you know what I'm saying, remixed?

Speaker 2 (01:08:56):
I need it on a boat man. You know what
I'm saying. Okay, I'll tell that it's hilarious.

Speaker 3 (01:09:02):
Well, what I'm saying is thank you, and uh yeah
I was. Folks, want to donate some money to the
Portland Diaper Bank to help people who don't have much
money afford diapers or you know, just have diapers for free,
you can do fundme Portland Diaper Bank. Behind the Bastards
and yeah, that'll that'll get you what you need.

Speaker 1 (01:09:24):
My dog has decided we're done. She's she's playing in
the background. If you so, it's it's over.

Speaker 3 (01:09:32):
Bye bye.

Speaker 1 (01:09:36):
Behind the Bastards is a production of cool Zone Media.
For more from cool Zone Media, visit our website cool
Zonemedia dot com. Or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
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