All Episodes

June 4, 2024 64 mins

Robert sits down with Jason Petty, AKA Prop, to discuss how Thomas Jefferson became a global prophet of liberty despite owning human beings and helping to invent modern racism.

(4 Part Series)

 

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Mark as Played
Transcript

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:02):
Media. Hey everyone, Robert Evans here and I wanted to
talk about something that is important to me, important to
everyone else at cool Zone. We have not really covered
it in detail, but on June tenth, twenty twenty four,
a man named Leonard Peltier, who is an enrolled member
of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa of Lakota and
Ojibwe Ancestry and is the longest serving political prisoner in

(00:23):
the United States, will be appearing before the US Parole
Commission for the first time since two thousand and nine.
The FBI is vigorously resisting any thought of him being
paroled because he allegedly killed two FBI agents and a
firefight on June twenty sixth, nineteen seventy five. Said agents
had shown up on reservation land to execute a pretextural warrant.

(00:44):
The initial firefight occurred during what's called the Reign of
Terror on Pine Ridge in the wake of the occupation
of Wounded Knee. It was a time of extreme violence
by the federal government, who had installed a puppet tribal
chair and was arming vigilantes who targeted Indigenous traditionalists. Everything
that led up to these events and the subsequent investigation
and mister Peltier's extradition, trial, conviction, and sentencings was characterized

(01:06):
by gross misconduct on the part of law enforcement, the prosecution,
and the courts. Mister Peltier's co defendants were separately tried
and acquitted on grounds of self defense. Mister Peltier was
railroaded and his cases tainted by discrimination at every level,
ranging from the withholding of exculpatory evidence to the torture
and coercion of extradition and trial witnesses, and from the
refusal of the trial judge to dismiss and a vowedly

(01:28):
racist juror, to the apologetic gymnastics of courts affirming his
convictions in the wake of meritorious legal challenges and admitted
evidence about rageous government misdeeds. Mister Peltier has been in
prison for more than forty eight years and is almost
eighty years old. He suffers from chronic and potentially lethal
conditions for which he receives insufficient and substandard medical care.
If you want to take action to hashtag free Leonard Peltier,

(01:50):
and I should tell you his name is spelled l
EO nar D p E l t I E r.
You can call the US Parole Commission at two two
three for six seven thousand and sign the petition at
n d nco dot cc slash free Leonard Peltier at
n d nco dot cc slash free Leonard Peltier all

(02:13):
one you Know thing, or follow the n d N
Collective on social media for more ways to support him.
For more information on Leonard Peltier, you can listen to
Margaret's podcast on the Locoda Nation and read In the
Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matheeson. Oh, welcome back
to Behind the Bastards, the only podcast that you're listening

(02:35):
to right now, unless you're you're listening to more than
one podcast right now to I think I've done this
joke this like this, this bit about the brain hacking
people who like I read seventy books a week. Yeah, Jason,
do you have any brain hacks? How do you hack
your brain? How do you? How are you so such
a such a a triple quadruple threat of a musician, writer, author, podcaster.

(03:02):
I guess two of those are technically the same thing.
But coffee entrepreneur, Yeah, yeah, how are you him?

Speaker 2 (03:09):
I mean, as a few of them? I think one
of the main brain hacks is child labor. So if
you just that's a big one.

Speaker 1 (03:15):
That's a big yeah.

Speaker 2 (03:16):
You just find a little a little young hungry you
know what I'm saying. Kid, don't want to get famous.

Speaker 1 (03:22):
And you just yeah make it we work too.

Speaker 2 (03:24):
Yeah, I mean, I'm telling you, man, it's like we.

Speaker 1 (03:27):
Call that British umpire Maxing. Yeah, yep.

Speaker 2 (03:29):
One of my one of my mentors, used to say,
everybody has the saying twenty four hours, but if you
work for me, I get eight of yours. So so like, dude,
I got thirty two.

Speaker 1 (03:40):
Now. So that's there's your free advice for everybody today.
Go steal a child. That actually ties in very well
to the subject of this episode. Wow, because the guy
we're talking about this week is one of the most
famously productive human beings in history and and one of
the most influential American in the history of our nation.

(04:02):
And he did it by stealing a bunch of children.
We are talking this week about Thomas Jefferson.

Speaker 2 (04:08):
Hello, hello, oh man, the man loved him some black women.

Speaker 1 (04:15):
Oh boy. We'll have a lot to say about all
of that. But first cold opens, dozen shut. We're back,
and you know, prop I said we at the introduction
of this the only way to get those extra eight
hours a day is by by stealing them someone younger.

(04:38):
But there is one other way, and it's crudely made
kretom tea mixed mine with macha and coffee. Today, I
was like, are we doing product placement in the first
minute of this coffee? Because this is just free the
concept of cretum.

Speaker 2 (04:55):
Be cool if that coffee was owned by me.

Speaker 1 (04:58):
I it was up until oh recently, I ordered like
four or five greats of your of your cold brew.
But I finally I need to I need to make
another order because I finally made it through. That's been
my early afternoon coffee. Just like crack a. Can go
go do some squats or sit down and finally write
for the day. Yeah, yeah, good stuff.

Speaker 2 (05:19):
It's like I will still say, I it is magical
that these scripts, that these are actually scripts, that you
write them. I'm like, do you type? Do you type
four thousand words a minute?

Speaker 1 (05:32):
I can get about four thousand words. That's like a
normal night. That's like one one episode usually four to
five thousand words, so that's usually.

Speaker 2 (05:39):
Not a minute, not a minute. Minute though, I was like, no,
did you count my joke here? Bro? Like I was like, nah, okay.

Speaker 1 (05:45):
Once I finish like researching, it's usually about like five
hours of writing per script, Yeah, yeah, something like that
kind of depends on the script. Some of them take more.
Sometimes it's more like eight or ten for the same amount,
because like, ye, word count is one thing, but it
all depends on like how well you understand, Like if
it's one of those things. If I'm like writing about
like Thomas Jefferson, thank god, at least the basics of

(06:07):
his history. Yeah, we were all raised with his kids,
So it's not as much as like if I'm reading
about Chow Chesku or whatever and I've got to like you, Ye,
let's get into Thomas Jefferson, and specifically I want to.
I want to dissuade people who might be worried at
the start. This is not even going to be four
episodes about Thomas Jefferson his whole life, because there's so

(06:27):
much written about this man and surrounding context we have,
we're drowning at him. These episodes are purely about Thomas
Jefferson and slavery.

Speaker 2 (06:35):
Right, I'm gonna say this. I've got to say this Yeah.
I've gotta say I love the rhythm that the bastards
guests have. It seems like like some people get you know,
child murder.

Speaker 1 (06:50):
We have our dead baby guests.

Speaker 2 (06:52):
Yeah, you have a dead baby. Guess you have your
you know, crack doctor. Guess I get horrible acts of
racism guests.

Speaker 1 (07:03):
Ah, yeah, I mean I'll take it. Shit, I'll take it.

Speaker 2 (07:08):
You're on the Mount Rushmore, Yeah, Rushmore.

Speaker 1 (07:12):
So is Thomas Jefferson. I think I'm pretty sure he
has to be right. Yeah. Now to start with it,
to really, like, I think, to ground the story of
Thomas Jefferson because it's not really even calling it Thomas
Jefferson and slavery is not fully accurate. We're really talking
about Jefferson and like the concept of freedom, because Jefferson
is going to be seen in his own time as

(07:33):
something of like a profit of the concept of human liberty, yes,
to an extent that bleeds surprisingly far, both in time
and geographically. And to make that point, I want to
talk about September second, nineteen forty five, which is when
a guy you might have heard of named Ho Chi
Minh gave a speech at bod Dean Square in Hanoi, Vietnam.

(07:54):
By this point in the Vietnamese struggle for liberation, the
hated Japanese occupiers had been forced out in August, but
French imperial forces still controlled much of what was then
called Indo China. The war between France and the Vietmen
would take almost another decade until nineteen fifty four and
lead inexorably to an even bloodier conflict between the United
States and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Given the brutality

(08:18):
of that conflict and how it has come down in memory,
particularly among their Western left, it may surprise some of
you to learn that Ho Chi Minh opened his Boddean
Square speech with a quote from the US Declaration of Independence,
written by former President Thomas Jefferson. Quote, all men are
created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain
inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit

(08:41):
of happiness. Here's what Ho Chi Minh had to say
about that line. This immortal statement was made in the
Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in
seventeen seventy six. In a broader sense, this means all
the peoples on the earth are equal from birth. All
the peoples have a right to live and to be
happy and free. Now that is a lovely statement. That

(09:04):
is not what Thomas Jefferson meant by writing it, which
is the at of what we'll be talking about.

Speaker 2 (09:09):
Yeah, Like I would say Thomas Jefferson when when I
was teaching high schoolers the phrase cognitive dissonance came up,
and I'm like, if cognitive dissonants were a person, it
would be Thomas Jefferson. Because there are things that have
came out of his mouth that are that I quote

(09:29):
to this day.

Speaker 1 (09:29):
Like him some of the best things anyone ever wrote.
The best is the concept of human liberty.

Speaker 3 (09:34):
Yeah, yeah, sure, even about the institution of slavery. Like
if he was like if God is just yeah, right,
that's about favorite one. If God is as just as
we say he is, then oh shit, is we're gonna
be fucked.

Speaker 1 (09:50):
We'll getto that line in its context and history. I
want to talk a little bit more about Ho Chi
Men because I don't think this is known enough, which
is that prior to the US really get involved in Vietnam,
he was a little bit of an America boo, right,
Like he kind of stannd the Founding Fathers just a
little bit and part of you get in this speech

(10:10):
he's got these like very valid complaints about the French occupiers.
He doesn't just quote the Declaration of Independence. He quotes
the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen,
which is made in seventeen ninety one during the French Revolution,
and is like, basically, hey, these are great things. You
guys are saying, why aren't you acting that way? Do
you should do it? Yeah, there's there's a heartbreaking line
in here where he's like, we are convinced that the Allies,

(10:33):
which at the Tehran in San Francisco conferences upheld the
principle of equality among the nations, cannot fail to recognize
the right of the Vietnamese people to independence. Oh boy,
they share dead buddy. Yeah. Oh, will apologize for that one.
But uh. He was generally Ho Chi Minh generally a
guy who like gauged the moment correctly. He was pretty

(10:55):
good at that. But he did not in this moment.

Speaker 2 (10:57):
No no, no, no, no, no no no.

Speaker 1 (10:59):
So if you care at all about understanding the history
of human freedom as an ideological concept and a value system,
you do have to study Jefferson, not just because he
wrote eloquently on the matter, but because his words influenced
revolutionaries in the world over his lifetime and do so today.
At the same time, you can't study Jefferson without coming
to understand what ho Chi Minh eventually did about the Allies,

(11:20):
which is that it's one thing to express nice sentiments
about human liberty, and it's another to take any concrete
steps to further that end, especially if they might exert
a cost from you. So again, we're not doing a
political biography on the man, or even an exhaustive look
at all of the bad things he did in his life.
We are instead, Yeah.

Speaker 2 (11:38):
He's like he just called cap and yeah and had
right to because it's like, bro, and that's to me, Like,
I'm glad we're doing this to me, because that's to
me what is so fascinating about history, and specifically American history,
the history of racism, the history of all of it
is like when you drilled obviously I am a recipient

(12:00):
of all of this stuff, but like when you drill
down into what's going on in the heart and the
mind of a person that knows intellectually and even morally
and spiritually what they're doing is wrong, yeah, and continues

(12:21):
to be a part of it that you know, three
hundred years later, we could be like, I don't understand
what the hell you're doing. You know, obviously this isn't
on the same playing field. But like fast forward to
me tomorrow hopping on this plane to sure fly, you
don't say like that's knowing full well, yeah, you know
what I'm saying.

Speaker 1 (12:40):
That's particularly a good point because one of the chief,
if not the primary, moral issues that we are dealing
with right now is like the damage that we're doing
to the planets holding capacity for life. Yes, and it's
damaged especially all of us in the first world contribute
to because like it allows for our lives to be
very comfortable in comparison to most human lives. And that's

(13:02):
what's happening with Jefferson. Kind of at the end and
at the beginning, this is the guy we're gonna trace him.
He goes through changes, but kind of ultimately a big
part of why he betrays his principles on slavery is
because he builds kind of a first world life for
himself in the seventeen hundreds, and he's not willing to

(13:22):
give up that comfort. Right, There's more to it than that,
but that is ultimately what we're building too, because people
don't know enough about Monticello. So Thomas Jefferson Tommy Jeffs
was born in what biographer Dumas Malone called a simple
wooden house in today's Ablemarle County, Virginia. In those days,
Virginia was the property of King George the second of

(13:43):
Great Britain, ancestor to modern sausage fingered potentate Charles. The
calendar was different when Jefferson was a baby, but using
modern measures, we'd call his birth date April thirteenth, seventeen
four to three. So calling his family home simple probably
accurate enough, especially by like our modern you know, judgment,
but it loses some context, which is that his father

(14:05):
is quite wealthy for his time period and for his era,
and he's also kind of like famous. He's local boy
who made good. Specifically, he had helped to map and
lay out the boundaries of what became Virginia as a
young man, and as a result of that, in like
the work he did during that time, he comes to
own thousands and something like eleven thousand acres. I think
it was and a significant number of enslaved human beings.

Speaker 2 (14:28):
To work that acreage.

Speaker 1 (14:30):
So his dad, it's important to note, does not inherit
like builds what he has right primarily at least, that
is not going to be the case with Thomas. Thomas's
family home was called Shadwell, but when he was a
little boy around age three, his father moved the family
from Shadwell to a nicer plantation that he had been
hired to manage as the executor of his friend's estate.

Speaker 2 (14:51):
Yeah, you can't tell me you come from meager beginnings.
If your house has a name.

Speaker 1 (14:54):
If your house has a name, yeah, that's really the
easiest quick way to like judge people's so geoeconomically, they
call your house. That's not just the apartment complex, like
the one what the this window?

Speaker 2 (15:11):
Yeah yeah. If you come from like you know, Imperial Courts,
that's a housing project. So I'm like, okay, that's the
name of the projects. But you're telling me your house
itself as a name just shaf Well.

Speaker 1 (15:23):
Yeah, that's that's a rich guy house.

Speaker 2 (15:24):
I'm sorry.

Speaker 1 (15:26):
Thomas's first memory is, as a three year old, a
fifty mile ride on horseback through the woods to come
to this new home, and he's carried He's on like
the lap of one of his father's enslaved people. Right.
That is his earliest memory is being carried by one
of the people his dad owns to a new plantation.
His parents would have several more children, three other sisters
or three sisters and one brother, and Jefferson spent age

(15:49):
three to about nine or ten wandering freely through the
semi wilderness around the plantation. He grew up on and
reading obsessively from works of classic history. We are talking
Roman shit. Yeah, he had an odd relationship with his family.
One biographer I have read said that he adored and
admired his father Peter, but had it best a strained
relationship with his mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson Dumas, who is

(16:14):
Jefferson's most detailed early biographer. He writes like the first
kind of definitive Jefferson biography simply says there is no
positive testimony about her in Jefferson's notes and describes her
as a shadowy figure.

Speaker 2 (16:27):
He got none sad about his mama.

Speaker 1 (16:29):
He has. He has mom issues. They are mysterious mom issues,
but they are mom issues.

Speaker 2 (16:33):
That's weird. Homie like I don't know she alright, I guess, like, well's.

Speaker 1 (16:39):
Weird he doesn't say shit about her.

Speaker 2 (16:40):
Yeah yeah, well, you know in him being a product
of his time because all the mom duties was offloaded
to slave black women. Yeah, Dot, you know what I'm saying,
Like you said, like we're riding in fifty miles, you
sitting on the on the on the lap of the
help rather than your mom. You know what I'm saying.
Of course you're gonna feel feel some type of way
about your mamma because you don't do shit.

Speaker 1 (17:01):
Yes, that is it, And I think that might have Yeah,
that's an interesting point. Actually, yeh, I've had I think
I've mentioned this on the show friends who like grew
up who were rich and had like a nanny, like
a full time nanny as a kid, and like express
that like, yeah, it was kind of confusing. It's like
a three year old I wasn't really sure which one
was my mom.

Speaker 2 (17:19):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (17:20):
Now I find this interesting because immediately after saying he
could find no positive testimony about Jefferson's mom, he describes
her dumas Malone describes her as having physical endurance beyond average,
bearing a total of ten children, and raising eight of
them to adulthood, which is like, that's hard. That's that's
that's a not a bad. Eighty percent survival rate in

(17:41):
that time for kids is solid.

Speaker 2 (17:43):
Kids.

Speaker 1 (17:44):
You're kind of knocking it out of the park if
you're doing eighty on the percent to ten kids.

Speaker 2 (17:48):
Yeah, it's pretty good.

Speaker 1 (17:49):
Yeah. Yeah, we are awarding her a behind the Bastard's
T shirt that says, only two of my ten children
died here it is. Yeah, we love giving that shirt out.
I just can that out at show.

Speaker 2 (18:00):
Yeah, there it is. So I got two. I got
two awards under my belt. We got the No Diddle Award.
That's right, right, like, hey, you know I'm bad eight
hundred ki.

Speaker 1 (18:11):
I got some bad news on the No Diddling Award here.
Thomas Jefferson is not going to win that, bad boy.

Speaker 2 (18:15):
Oh no, no, absolutely no.

Speaker 1 (18:20):
But he's still young. Pins not sure. Yeah, oh yeah,
maybe if we get a good pen guy. Yeah. So,
her husband, Thomas's father Peter, was significantly older than her.
This will prove to be a Jefferson tradition, and he
died young at age forty nine when she was thirty seven.
She lived nineteen more years after this and was a

(18:41):
widow longer than she was ever a wife. When Thomas
was ten, his father, who was still alive at that point,
gave him a loaded gun and told him to march
into the forest and find food. The goal here was
to increase the boy's self reliance. Thomas failed at first,
but eventually found a wild turkey that had accidentally been
caught in a pin. He tied the captive animal to

(19:02):
a tree, shot it, and brought it home for the
family slaves to kill it. I might add that if
like you need the slaves to process your game, you're
not really living independently. It's kind of a huge part
of it. Actually.

Speaker 2 (19:14):
Yeah, I was like, wait, wait, wait, wait wait, I
think the kids just figured out the system found so,
which also plays well into who he becomes. It's like, oh,
you just got to work the system. Here's a turkey
that's already caught, so I'm just gonna shoot it. Yeah,
and it has somebody else do to dirty work.

Speaker 3 (19:32):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (19:32):
Yeah. Take it credit for tie it to its tree
so I could shoot it, come throttle its neck. At
that point, man, you have the turkey. I don't know,
weird kid. So Thomas's family right about the time of
this hunting adventure, probably a little bit afterwards, his family
moves back to the Shadowell plantation, but they do not
take Thomas with them. He has left behind to live

(19:54):
with a teacher, Anglican minister William Douglas. Douglas was not
and Thomas's later beckoning a very good teacher, but Thomas
lived with him for five years, alongside several other kids,
I think five others. So this is like a pretty
normal thing at the time, right, Like you have your
childhood and then it's time to go to school, and
you know, there's not like us. We all live out

(20:15):
in the country on these you know, manners and stuff.
So we're just going to send you to live with
the teacher for a while and he'll take care of
you too.

Speaker 2 (20:22):
Far like your school's far. Yeah, yeah, well did you
just stay there?

Speaker 1 (20:27):
Basically during his adolescence, he's only ever home for like
short periods of time and only occasionally. His best friend
at school was another boy who also lived there named
Dabney Carr, who became his best friend. The one story
that Dumas Malone gives us about their friendship is that
Danny had a fast horse, but Jefferson had a slow one,
and everyone gave Jefferson shit for this, and so Thomas

(20:48):
tricked Dabney into agreeing to have a race on February thirtieth,
a day that does not exist. Dumas rites. Not until
the last day of the month that the others discovered
they had been taken in. You know, he's a little
smarter than them, although I might add they're not that bright. Yeah, oh,
that's not a good one. How many days are there
in February?

Speaker 2 (21:07):
Yeah, yeah, that's like two days more like bro like yeah, yeah, yeah,
come on, guys.

Speaker 1 (21:14):
So Peter Jefferson died in seventeen fifty seven, when Thomas
was around fourteen. Thomas later wrote of his father's sudden
death when I recollect that at fourteen years of age,
the whole care and direction of myself was thrown entirely
on myself, without a relation or friend qualified to advisor
guide me, and recollect various sorts of bad company with
which I associated from time to time. I am astonished

(21:36):
I did not turn off with some of them and
become as worthless to the society as they were. Now.
That suggests a lonely boy and one who had a
pretty low opinion of most of his friends and like companions. Yeah,
they're all worthless to society, and they nearly dragged me
down with them. He also doesn't really seem to be
very close to his family. It's interesting to me that

(21:57):
his father seems immune to these criticisms, even though by
all accounts I can find, he must have been the
one who locked Thomas away for that at that school
for five years and kept him away from any kind
of emotional companionship or whatever. Now it's worth noting that
Thomas's own recollections during this period ignore the fact that
he did in fact have someone to advise and help him.

(22:18):
This friend was an enslaved boy, Jupiter, who was, in
the style of the time, raised alongside Thomas to be
his companion and servant. This was not an uncommon state
of affairs for the landed gentry and the colonies. In
the book Master of the Mountain, Henry Winsick writes he
had grown up with Jupiter, born at Shadwell the same
year as he. If they followed the custom of the time,

(22:38):
the two of them were playmates and companions in fishing
and hunting. Though Jefferson left no recollection.

Speaker 2 (22:43):
Of this yeah, he was that house what we would
call a house and okay, got it?

Speaker 1 (22:49):
Yeah yeah, and maybe you know, you have to. I
do think you have to. Like theoretically I can see
how because as a kid, Jefferson's not to blame for
the system either. How as little kids, this could be
something where like you legitimately see them as a friend.
But Thomas doesn't seem to have right because he doesn't
write about this guy, like he ignores him. And like

(23:10):
when I read that, like you were supposed to hunt
together and play together, I'm like, well, was he the
one who found that turkey?

Speaker 2 (23:15):
You know? Yeah? Yeah, he was a living robot? Like okay,
you're a you're a man that's alive. You're a living
teddy bear. So it's like, yeah, I don't you know,
how many toys do you write about? How many toys
did you just kind of leave you forgot when you moved,
you know what I'm saying, Like, if he's just that,
it's like, oh, hey, look I got you a black dude,
you know what I mean. It's like, oh great, thanks Christmas,
you know, and then by Christmas dinner you forgot about

(23:37):
your new toy, you know.

Speaker 1 (23:38):
Right, Yeah, And I you know, there's definitely people white
people from this time who write about the relationships they
had with these kind of these house slaves that you're
like raised with as your friend and write about it
being complicated and it leading them to question the system
that they live under. Thomas does not do that, at
least we have no evidence that he does that at all. Yeah,

(24:01):
So Jefferson grows into a robust young man and he's
very tall by his late teens. He's always noted as
having been extremely healthy, although Dumas cites many contemporaries who
also described him as thin skinned and extremely shy while
his father sat on the House of Burgesses, which is
like a Virginia congressional sort of thing. Prior to the

(24:23):
outbreak of the Revolutionary War. He's a prominent his dad
had been a prominent local politician and leader. Thomas was
noted from kind of his late adolescence as being anti social,
or at the very least not what you'd call an extrovert.
Dumas interestingly describes him as being indifferent to clothes as
a young man and basically a little bit of a
feral youth prior to finishing school and starting college. At Williamsburg.

(24:47):
Dumas credits him finally getting interested in fashion to the
fact that he had started to notice the girls. It
is many such cases. Yeah, that'll do it. Time to
not be naked outside. I guess ladies don't like that
so much.

Speaker 2 (25:01):
Turns out I smell like this wild turkey I caught.

Speaker 1 (25:04):
Yeah, but exactly, I gotta take care of that.

Speaker 2 (25:07):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (25:07):
So in seventeen sixty, freshly Koift, he leaves for college,
and while he writes little about this period, Winesack notes
that Jupiter accompanied him on his next adventure. Quote. When
Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary and Williamsburg,
Jupiter went with him as his personal servant. Decades later,
when Jefferson drew up regulations for the University of Virginia,

(25:27):
he forbade students to have their slaves with him, which
he thought ruined the character of young white men. Now, okay,
we simply lack. I don't know if anything happened at
his own college experience that made him do this, or
if he's just being like these new kids are lazy,
like not like me. It was great for me, but
not that.

Speaker 2 (25:45):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I uh this you brought
up something that I feel like might be lacking in
my knowledge of like African American history, Like where's like
the writings of a Jupiter character, Like, oh yeah, a
person who had to play this well, Like I can't
think of any book I've read, Like yeah, I was like,

(26:09):
you know, I actually never thought about that, like because
I'm imagining this situation from his perspective, you know, obviously,
Like so I'm like, that's where I could put myself
in that Parce's shoes. And I'm like, I just I
don't know of any writings from that perspective.

Speaker 1 (26:22):
You know, you get very few of them. We're all
going to read some quotes. There's a decent amounts, particularly
of later in his life of like and this where
these were interviews that were conducted after he died, often
but of people that he had owned in some cases
later freed who talked about him, right, Yeah, didn't talk
about that time. We do have some of those accounts. Yeah,
but it's very rare and like you just don't get

(26:44):
and I don't know if it's like obviously, in a
lot of cases, slaves were just outright forbidden from learning
to read or write or even if they did, they
had to be very careful about who knew. Jefferson was
less strict about certainly not like a hardliner on that
particular issue. But we still don't have We have basically
nothing ye on Jefferson or on Jupiter, very little. And

(27:04):
I Yah, it's made me kind of think because obviously
part of why you want to do that is because
it makes it harder for them to find their freedom.
It makes it harder for them to forge papers and stuff,
It makes it harder for them to live if they
escape from you. I wonder if some of it's it
makes it harder or impossible for them to like give
a different account of what their lives were, Like that's
exactly like.

Speaker 2 (27:25):
Yeh, that's one of the biggest things. It's just like,
don't nobody want to really tell you because because like
we did with the Lost cause stuff like you're you're
trying to convince the world. They're like, no, they like it,
don't you you know, And of course you can't trust
nobody's statements under duress, you know what I'm saying. Yeah,
The only like you know, this is why the writings
of like a Frederick Douglass, you know, are so important

(27:47):
to the American story, you know what I'm saying, because
he was like, oh, look I've been I've been slaved
and I've been free, and I ain't worried about none
of what y'all saying, you know what I'm saying. So
I think you know, yeah, so like when you like
you said, it's like so when you know, the gentry
gets to say no, the experience is like this, It's
like what's Dixie? And then somebody goes, uh, actually it

(28:11):
ain't like that, fam you.

Speaker 1 (28:13):
Know, yeah, yeah, And I it's interesting because we do
know Jupiter seems to have occupied a place of extreme
trust in Jefferson's life. Like later in his life he's
going to like carry explosives like independently for his master
and stuff. So like yeah, that's like a you know,
there's a lot of trust there. Same thing with.

Speaker 2 (28:29):
Like yeah, so that's what's so interesting about it because
it's like you're a slave, but you're not. You're not
you know, I mean, we could talk free on this.
I don't know why I'm censoring myself, but you're not
a field nigga, you know what I'm saying. No, So
like a field Nigga's story is going to be very different,
very much so than a Jupiter is, you know what
I'm saying. And so it's like I just I just

(28:50):
I like I know, like I can tell you of
like readings about what it was like to work in
the house versus working in the field, but like this particularly,
I was like, dang, I don't think I know any well.

Speaker 1 (29:00):
And that's you know, when it comes to because we're
going to read a quote kind of about the amount
of loyalty a lot of these the the like the
like the people who lived in his househouse once had
and it's you know, you have to keep in mind
when you're trying to figure out, like, well, why would
they be so well, they were raised with him, right Like.
We can talk about the objective morality of this system

(29:21):
and how evil it is, but like to Jupiter growing
up in this, this is also the dude that you
were raised with, right like, And we really that's kind
of in I mean, it's incomprehensible to me, you know,
of course, but I'm going to I'm going to read
a passage about that. Dumas Malone writes about Jefferson at
age twenty.

Speaker 2 (29:36):
Hey, but before you read that passage. Though, before you
read that passage.

Speaker 1 (29:39):
Should should I do an ad?

Speaker 2 (29:40):
Plug?

Speaker 1 (29:40):
Is it? Type of ads? Speaking of products and services?
We weren't, but here's some. We're back. So Dumas Malone
writes this about our boy tj at age twenty, on
his way to the county court and to Williamsburg. He

(30:01):
generally went on horseback or in a one horse chair.
His servant, Jupiter, who was just his age as a rule,
went with him or followed close behind, possibly carrying his
luggage in a cart. The name of this trusted companion
of the road, who had been going with him since
his days as a law student, recurs in his account
books with regularity. Jefferson was always giving money to Jupiter
to pay a saddler and Staunton, to pay for ferriages

(30:22):
to Williamsburg and for bread and candles there. He even
borrowed small coin from Jupiter at times when he himself
ran out.

Speaker 2 (30:30):
And yeah, man.

Speaker 1 (30:31):
It is you have to again not to not to
take away from the immorality of this system, but you
also in order to understand what it was like living
under them, you have to get that there is a
kind of intimacy that often develops between these people, right,
and it's yeah, and just the kind of people you know. Yeah,
and just the like you said.

Speaker 2 (30:50):
The emotional complication of like okay, what what what we
would call now like survivor's guilt, where it's like, Okay,
I know I made it, and I know, like my
situation is not as bad as everybody else is. I'm
looking at this person that I could truly as I'm
on this carriage, nicely dressed and smelling good, seeing somebody

(31:14):
that could be my brother, cousin or uncle or auntie
or mom on the side of the row picking cotton,
knowing full well, and I know what they think of
as they see me, you know. And then you're like, well,
you know I and in reality is I would much
rather be on this cart than over there, you know
what I'm saying, And like, yeah, just the complicated Yeah.

Speaker 1 (31:36):
Yeah, it is complicated. And it's also like that whole
thing about like I could be related to this person
in the field in a lot of cases is not
the case with Thomas and Jupiter, but it's going to
be the case with Thomas and a lot of the
other people that he owns. You are also related by
blood to these people. Right, that's why Daddy, there's that's
that's your uncle. That's a cousin by marriage, you know.

(31:57):
That's also and these the fact that these people, these
that like these these white families, these like slave owning
families often raise their kids together with like usually there
will be a family or a couple of families of
like privileged enslaved people who live in and around the home.
That is, it creates these bonds that I think pervert

(32:20):
but often exist in the image of the concept of
family bonds. Right, I think this is a perversion of
family bonds, but it does mimic that, right. And A
Master of the Mountain Windset goes into more detail on
this phenomenon. I'm gonna read this quote than we can
talk about it as after the Civil War. Visited after
the Civil War, visiting Northerner, astonished at the stories she

(32:41):
had heard, asked a former slave how he could risk
his life for the family that enslaved him. The answer
was that the slaves had not lost a sense of
common humanity. Often we left our own wives and children
during the war in order to take care of the
wives and children of our absent masters. And why did
we do this because they were helpless and afraid, while
our families were better able to take care of them
and had no fear. When they saw their oppressors stricken

(33:03):
with fear, they did not rise up in vengeance but
offered help.

Speaker 2 (33:08):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (33:08):
And that's, you know, e a mess.

Speaker 2 (33:11):
Yeah, it's both both a malady and a testament, you
know to like you said that, like, well, we didn't
lose humanity. I know we were being treated like we
weren't humans, but we know we were. We knew we're humans,
you know, And like you said, like I still see
this little boy who's the child of or this little

(33:32):
girl who's the child of my master. But I'm like you, like, yeah,
that's that's still a child, you know. And I know
we're both human, you know, Like maybe you don't, I do.
And I'm not gonna let you take that from me,
you know. I think that there was a lot of
stuff that I was even raised with where it's like
you can't let you can't let your oppressors strip you

(33:52):
from your humanity, Like, don't let them take that also,
And I think that that that's something there. But the
thought actually crossed my mind as you was talking about
this weird family bond that like, Okay, it's absolutely obvious
to everyone in this house, including the master's wife, that

(34:16):
that little girl, that little light skinned little girl who
works in my house, looks just like my husband. So like,
I know that's your child, you know what I'm saying. Yeah,
And I just wonder if that played a role between
the relationship of white women and black women where there's

(34:40):
a level of resentment. That's another thing I never thought about.

Speaker 1 (34:44):
And that's the thing part of the difficulty of getting
I think. I'm sure that happens. I'm sure that's a
part of the story that's significant, But they also didn't
really like let women write a lot like you know,
it was also not a lot of you don't get
as nearly at least not as much as we get
of Yeah.

Speaker 2 (35:00):
I just and I just wonder if like that element
like plays such a role of like maybe some of
the vitriol and like besides just run of the middle racism,
the specific vitriol towards specifically black women, Like I just
wonder if, like I wonder if that's a thing where
it's like, well, I mean and that's all in my
face and rather than rather than like directing the anger

(35:23):
where it's supposed to be. You'll say it where it's like, well,
she's properties she didn't have no saying this your husband
raped her, Like I wan't to understand what you don't
understand about that, you know.

Speaker 1 (35:33):
But yeah, and also, as we'll talk about later, often
forced her to be like a nurse maid to your kids, right,
which I'm sure also especially when you're talking about like
a woman like like Martha Jefferson is going to be
his future wife who is sickly, right, and so yeah,
like that's that's another complication to it. But I think

(35:53):
we have established these are very complex relationships that we
are going to be looking into and breaking down. That
doesn't impact the evil that we attached to them, but
it is worth understanding if you want to get a
context for what life was like.

Speaker 2 (36:07):
Now.

Speaker 1 (36:07):
When it comes to where Jefferson lands in the intellectual
history of slavery, I think it's important that during this
time he is a voracious reader and he's kind of
you know the term web we use for like I
think it came out of initially like like white Americans
who are obsessed with Japan, right, He's kind of that,
He's kind of a web for the Roman Republic. Right.

(36:30):
He is a huge fan. He's in love with his idea,
this distorted idea of the history and culture of that
place and time, and he understood it through the scholarship
of his day as like kind of a golden age
that was lost in a lot of ways, and this
influences the attitudes and opinions of these ancient Romans he's reading,
influences his early feelings on how slavery ought to work right,

(36:52):
and on the morality of slavery, and in a lot
of ways his opinions on this are more Roman than American.
In his youth, he's going to age into an acceptance
of what we now call scientific racism as an older man,
but that's not entirely where he starts with things. At college,
Thomas gains a reputation for being, in biographer Joseph Ellis's
World Words, an obsessive student. Ellis writes in the book

(37:15):
American Sphinx that Thomas would spend sometimes fifteen hours with
his books, three hours practicing his violin, and the remaining
six hours eating and sleeping. He was an extremely serious
young man.

Speaker 2 (37:26):
Wow.

Speaker 1 (37:27):
Jefferson would later write about the two years that he
spent at college as the happiest years of his life.
He was active in sports, and he built a sizable
friend group, which included Dabney Carr. His mentor was a
math professor William Small, who was a prominent deist and
whose views on religion shaped Jefferson's own. This is a
big part of how he comes to see himself as
a dist He has this kind of this guy, William Small,

(37:50):
this professor, as kind of a mentor. He graduates, he's
gonna have a couple because he doesn't have like a
dad anymore. Right. He graduates in seventeen sixty two because
life moved to a lot faster in those days, or
at least school did. And he took an apprenticeship in
the law with a guy named George With its spelled withy,
but it's pronounced with apparently. So this lasted five years,

(38:12):
and it acquainted Jefferson with the nuts and bolts of
the kind of law that he was practicing, which was
mainly land title law. He was representing planters in cases
involving land claims. For the most part. With was also
an intellectual inspiration for Thomas, who called him my second
father and described him as the American Cato. Now, this
is going to get us into our detailed talk about

(38:34):
one of the Romans that Thomas reads a lot, and
that is Cato the Elder. There's a Cato the Younger too.
Both Catos are related and both were known to be
kind of these moral paragons of a very specific set
of austere agricultural values.

Speaker 2 (38:49):
Right.

Speaker 1 (38:50):
They are these kind of guys who still are with
us today. Right, you know, this kind of like conservative,
obsessive sort of love of the concept of being a farmer,
often attached many real knowledge of what being a farmer requires.

Speaker 2 (39:03):
Right.

Speaker 1 (39:04):
Kato the Catos, but particularly Cato the Elder is like
he's he is ground zero for that. He is like
the first guy in Western literature to be like, ah,
we all need to be farmers.

Speaker 2 (39:15):
Yeah, that particular, I think it's important to like drill
down that type of personality. Like and and while it's
it's actually very telling that he goes to Kato, because
it's like if somebody were to say they were a
karate master or a jiu jitsu master and you're like, oh, word,

(39:35):
like how many tournaments have you been in? And they're
like No, I just studied it and I know all
the things. So it's like, oh, you you're a master
because you read it, not to dread.

Speaker 1 (39:44):
A lot of guy karate karate for you.

Speaker 2 (39:49):
Yeah, So it's like, no, I can teach karate in
a classroom, not an adult jo in a classroom, that
dude Kato.

Speaker 1 (39:57):
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And there's this this reality, this thing
that's really starting to happen in a major way while
Cato the Elder is alive. That's like, basically the backbone
of the Roman military had always been these small, independent farmers, right.
These guys are freemen. They're soldiers when they're not farming
if the state needs them. And this is like, you know,

(40:18):
Rome is going to constantly deal with the problem of that.
Like once they start to get big, you start having
all these rich people buying up all of this land
that smaller farmers had and working it with slaves, and
this kind of destroys the social backbone that had supported
the military. A lot of Roman politics is going to
like revolve around this change that happens.

Speaker 3 (40:39):
Right.

Speaker 1 (40:40):
It's more complicated than we're going to get into today,
but what's important for you to know is that if
he were alive today, Cato the Elder would have a TikTok, right,
and it would be the kind of TikTok where he's like,
he's like giving these angry rants over ai generated images
of farmhouses and wives with too many fingers, handling handing
plates of indistinct food to broods of Norman rock well
looking kids. Yeah, and he would go on all these lives.

(41:02):
It'd be a split screen with somebody playing the lies
on the other side. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He would be
going these long rants about returning to tradition. He'd be
really angry about women in video games. I have that
my suspicions, Oh for sure.

Speaker 2 (41:15):
Oh wow. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (41:16):
In his own day, Cato wrote a lot about his
idealized concept of the free citizen farmer, a tough and
morally upright creature who formed the backbone of Roman military might.
Of course, this citizen farmer was also a slave master,
and Cato had very specific ideas on how slaves should
be kept. From Plutarch's Life of Cato the Elder quote,

(41:36):
a slave of his was expected to either be busy
about the house or to be asleep, and he was
very partial to the sleepy ones. He thought these gentler
than the wakeful ones, and those who had enjoyed the
gift of sleep were better for any kind of service
than those who lacked it. In the belief that his
slaves were led into most mischief by their sexual passions,
he stipulated that males should consort with the females at
a fixed price, but should never approach any other woman.

(41:59):
So he makes his slaves pay him to have sex.

Speaker 2 (42:02):
Wow, there's something to be said about I don't want
to go down too big of a tangent, but just
like what the Romans meant when they said slaves being
rather different than what we meant. Yeah, but also the
way that they viewed sexuality. It's so interesting that they
that you brought that up, because sex was, at least
in the ancient Romans, was much less about pleasure than

(42:26):
it was about dominance, you know what I mean, And
and social status and order, you know what I'm saying,
Like it's a way to display power.

Speaker 1 (42:36):
So certainly when you're talking about like your the people
that you own, yes.

Speaker 2 (42:40):
Yes, So then to say that, like because if for
your slave to be able to have choice in who
they sleep with, is to say that you're letting your
slave exert power or some sort of authority, and it's like,
I can't let you do that, Like that's not in
our worldview.

Speaker 1 (42:56):
Yeah, and Cato seems to be saying that, like, if
you do that, that little bit of that little bit
of agency you give them will like lead them spark
likely could be the foundation of rebellion. Yes, right, yes,
and yeah, his attitude basically is that, like, slaves are
living tools, right, so they should be either working or unconscious,
having exhausted themselves at the end of every single day.

(43:18):
Because people don't like living this way, and because Cato,
despite talking about like austerity and how it's great to
not be to lose yourself to these modern comforts, Kato
is a guy who seeks a life of comfort provided
by human bondage, the people who work for him without
being paid, right, And he understood that in order to
maintain that life, he has to keep his slaves divided

(43:38):
and befuddled beneath him. Quote and this is from Plutarch.
At the outset, when he was still poor and in
military service, he found no fault at all with what
was served up to him, declaring that it was shameful
for a man to quarrel with the domestic over food
and drink. But afterwards, when his circumstances were improved and
he used to entertain his friends and colleagues at table,
no sooner was dinner over than he would flog those

(43:59):
slaves who had been remiss at all and preparing or
serving it. He was always contriving that his slave should
have feuds and dissensions among themselves. Harmony among them made
him suspicious and fearful. So he's like beating his slaves
after dinner, not even if they didn't do anything, just
so that, like what, they'll get angry at someone else, right,
at one of the other people. You know. Yeah, this
is one of the guys that Thomas Jefferson is reading obsessively.

(44:21):
You know the fact that he compares his mentor to
moderate the American Kato is meaningful rites a lot, yes, yeah,
and yeah, Kto is. He's a conservative, right, and he's
someone who believes in the maintenance of his own comfort
through this suffering and subjugation of others, but also someone
who fetishizes this idea of independence and hard work despite

(44:41):
getting a lot of their station through inheritance. One of
Kato's noteworthy sentiments was that a good Roman should seek
to earn more than he inherited, and Jefferson would always
obsess over this image of himself as a great businessman,
even though he never is able to really do that.
While practicing law, Jefferson entered into adult society found himself
walking in some of the most respected circles in Virginia.

(45:03):
He gained easy access to this scene due to his
father's wealth and reputation, and Jefferson constantly spent more than
he could afford to spend, burning away his inheritance trying
to impress his wealthy society friends. It was during this
portion of his life that he fell in love for
the first time to a young woman named Rebecca Burwell.
Her parents had died when she was young, but left

(45:24):
her a fabulous fortune. Her uncle, who has made her guardian,
was the governor of New York. When he fell in
love with her, Thomas he was twenty and she was sixteen.
And so, unlike Robert E. Lee, our boy, TJ's going
to fail early to the coveted behind the bastards didn't
flirt with children.

Speaker 2 (45:39):
Award made to his twenties.

Speaker 1 (45:41):
Yeah, you're almost you're almost in line with that one
Texas Romeo and Juliet law Right twenty and sixteen. So
he's not as bad as some people, allowing for the fact, well,
yet he's going to be actually much worse than most
people not too long from now, yes, but allowing for
the fact that this was more common back than wellolk
on that a little bit later. I also do want

(46:02):
to acknowledge something most people already know, which is that
guys who flirt with women who are a lot younger
than ye them often have issues with control and self
confidence that make them want to be with someone who
is less able to exercise agency. And we can infer
that this may have been part of what's happening with Jefferson,
from the fact that he is too shy to flirt
with her directly, and so like, after meeting her and

(46:23):
falling in love, he flees to Shadwell for nine months
and then he like he spends the whole time basically
like getting his courage together, and then when he comes
back to Williamsburg he does so he tries to reconnect
with her in this horribly awkward way, being like, hey, sorry,
I was gone for nine months. I absolutely intend to
ask for your hand in marriage, probably in the future,

(46:44):
probably in the near future, but I gotta go to
England first, Is that cool with you? And Rebecca seems
to have been like, I don't know what to fucking
do with this, And so another dude gives her an
actual marriage proposal and she marries that guy. Dumas writes
he explained this inactivity to us on the ground that
he had been abominably lazy. But the probability is that
he was now deeper in the law than in love,

(47:06):
by which Dumas means he was just obsessed with his job.
Yeah right, speaking of workahol, Do you know what cleans
my palate is the products and services that support this podcast?
Is that accurate?

Speaker 2 (47:22):
Clean?

Speaker 1 (47:23):
Jo Buck too cleans? Whatever you'll do if we sell that? Yeah,
and we're back. So. The most noteworthy consequence of these
early years in law and high society was that it
started bringing Jefferson into contact with some of the men

(47:44):
who had become influential voices of the revolution. This was
seventeen sixty five and he was training to be a
lawyer still when he first listened to Patrick Henry extempt
against British tax policy. In this case the Stamp Act. Henry,
you're all familiar with Henry. They give me bride er
ging me death guy. Right, he's a fiery orator. That's
kind of what he's still known for. Yeah, and he

(48:05):
is he is a very like he's a hardliner for independence, right.

Speaker 2 (48:09):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (48:09):
And Jefferson, he's a hardliner because he doesn't believe that
Parliament has any right to tax the colonies. And Jefferson
agrees with this very strict stance right that there's no
reason Parliament should be able to tax American landowners and
farmers for any purpose in American Sphinx Ellis describes Jefferson
as turning into kind of a fundamentalist on this point.
From his earliest days in the House, he opposed all

(48:30):
forms of parliamentary taxation and supported non importation resolutions against
British trade regulations. Now, while Jefferson felt strongly about this,
his participation in the debates of the day was mostly
limited to watching and listening. He was still very shy
and not confident in his voice or perhaps his mind.
Ellis continues, he seemed to most of his political contemporaries

(48:53):
a hovering and ever silent presence, like one of those
foreigners at a dinner party who nod privately as they
move from group to group, but never reveal whether or
not they can speak the language. He had a deep
seated aversion to the inherent contentions and routinized hurly burly
of a political career, and was forever telling his friends
that life on the public stage was not for him.
Just as his political career was getting started, he seemed

(49:15):
poised for retirement.

Speaker 2 (49:16):
Wow, I do know. Just dudes that like are just
introverted in quiet and just whenever things are happening right now,
like they actually have a trillion amazing things to say,
they're just yeah, I just don't feel like I need
to jump into this. And I actually in some ways
admire that because I am very much the like, like

(49:41):
there's lava in my mouth, I have to talk like so.

Speaker 1 (49:44):
Like yeah, for to.

Speaker 2 (49:48):
Loquacious, we'd say surprise, surprise, surprise. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (49:53):
Jefferson is very much one of those, like discretion is
the better part of being a smart guy. Yeah, but
he's also he's going to kind of it's gonna cost
some problems for him too. But he gets chosen to
represent his district in the House of Burgesses in seventeen
sixty eight after it had been dissolved by the Royal
Governor after a dispute around taxation. We're not going to

(50:14):
labor on this much because I think this kind of
stuff gets covered in school a lot, and it's not
super relevant to the bastardrey in Jefferson's life. But the
basic issue here is that Parliament wanted Americans to pay
taxes like everybody else, and Americans felt this was unfair
as they weren't really represented in Parliament. The French and
Indian Wars, which had concluded a little bit earlier, were
a major inciting incident here because they had driven up

(50:36):
debt for the Crown, which inspired a lot of the
taxes and duties on American goods that Jefferson and his
cohorts are going to rail against. And it was during
his time in the House of Burgesses that Jefferson first
comes into contact with George Washington, who led an effort
to have Virginia join the Association for the Non Importation
of British Manufacturers. This was an effort of intracolonial solidarity

(50:57):
to protest British taxes on goods and support domestic manufacturing.
Jefferson hated the idea that the Americas would have to
import basic necessities from elsewhere in the Empire instead of
having their own manufacturing base for those products, which is
going to be strangled by the taxes and duties that
Parliament was pushing through. Like a lot of problematic dudes,
Jefferson is going to grow increasingly obsessed with these ideas

(51:19):
of autarchy, right of radical self reliance on both an
individual and a national level, and he kind is going
to come to believe that the basis of the society
he wants to build should be these independent Yalemen farmers
who produce all the necessities of life on their own
independent properties, or at least most of them. Yeah, and
kind of the nation that these people build in common

(51:39):
together will itself be independent. Right, It's not going to
need anything from elsewhere. Now, this kind of life, the
reality of it, Like as with Cato's fantasies, it's only
really possible with large numbers of insides.

Speaker 2 (51:51):
It requires slaves. Yeah, yeah, to that point from what
I understand, Like, yeah, his picture were of America was
not big city, you know, and that that that that
actually became quite a point of contention because of like
just the very his very just his imagination of what

(52:12):
this world could be is not modern. It's not so
that played such a role in his view of slavery
and a view of this and like yeah, so like
that that in turn, if you took another like Founder,
that was like, nah, dude, we could be modern, Like
let's we can be the future, you know.

Speaker 1 (52:30):
Yeah, yeah, like you know, And there were a lot
of these, a lot of those guys. Jefferson his his
vision of kind of his ideal society. For as much
as he talks about democracy and his interested in progress
as he is, and he's going to label himself an
ally with the progressives of his time. Yeah, what he
talks about really seems like feudile to me in a

(52:51):
lot of ways. These like little feudal independent states run
on slavery, right, you know, which is kind of their
version of serfdom. It's made clear kind of how some
of his beliefs are moving along. In seventeen sixty eight,
which is the same year he joins the House of Burgesses,
and that's the year he decides to build a house

(53:12):
for himself on top of a mountain Monticello, on a
parcel of land inherited from his father. Building Monticello is
going to be the work of a lifetime and in
some ways the most insidiously evil direct action of Jefferson's life,
but at this stage his plans were unsettled. In seventeen
seventy two, he married Martha Whale Skelton, who had been

(53:32):
widowed young and thus had a huge amount of wealth
and property to offer him. The family slaves who were
later interviewed about this marriage describe it as a love match,
though not something done for property, which is interesting and
probably suggests that that's what it was.

Speaker 2 (53:46):
Right.

Speaker 1 (53:46):
They wrote about this as different from a lot of
the other arranged marriages that they saw among the white
people who were kind of at the top of their society.
We don't really know much about the relationship because Jefferson
later destroys most of his correspondence with Martha.

Speaker 2 (54:02):
Great.

Speaker 1 (54:03):
Yeah, I don't know what's going on. There may have
just been a thing he did out of grief, because
she's not going to live a long life, and neither
is her father John. He is less of a mystery, though,
because he was a slave trader. Henry Winsick writes quote
when Jefferson courted the beautiful Martha Wales. He spent evenings
by the fire with her father, Old John, who undoubtedly
talked business with the young suitor, discoursing on slaves and

(54:25):
the peaks and valleys in the market for them. The
incoming tide of slaves washed up against the steps of
the county courthouses every late summer and fall. The lawyers
and magistrates had the routine of land transactions and debt
collections interrupted when overseers herded gangs of newly delivered African
children under the courthouses through the magistrates to scrutinize, their
task being to assign each child in age. When children

(54:48):
reached sixteen, they became taxable, So the planters had an
interest in low estimates.

Speaker 2 (54:53):
Wow.

Speaker 1 (54:54):
Yeah, the idea that like you don't even really have
your age. Yeah, that's something that like these guys are
kind of hash out independent of you.

Speaker 2 (55:01):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (55:02):
Now, from what he would write later, we can infer
that Jefferson was horrified by aspects of what Wales told him,
particularly about the passage like from Africa the Americans. Yeah,
and so much so that he eventually is going to
take action. Not long after this point, soon after joining
the House of Burgesses. Sometime at the end of the
seventeen sixties or the start of the seventeen seventies, he

(55:24):
submitted an emancipation bill anonymously through a cousin. Jefferson himself
hated face to face conflict and the vicious reaction to
the bill. His cousin was accused of hating his country
reinforce his fear of speaking out on the issue. But
he does at this point, he does try something. Yeah,
it's nothing, I think.

Speaker 2 (55:43):
Yeah, And and to know that, like what gets outlawed
first is the importation of new slaves, you know, which
I still which I think indirectly is connected to Jefferson
being like, yes, some about this is crazy.

Speaker 1 (55:59):
And it's connected to Jefferson's this belief he's going to
express for a while about how slavery should be brought
to an end. He's going to consistently advocate for that.
But yeah, we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Speaker 2 (56:09):
Ye, yeah.

Speaker 1 (56:10):
Yeah. In seventeen seventy three, Jefferson's best friend, Dabney Carr died.
He had married Thomas's sister, Martha, and his loss was
an understandable blow to Thomas. What's Harder to understand is
how he responds to Dabney's death, As described in an
article by the National Park Service, while slaves were preparing
Carr's grave, Jefferson sat nearby taking notes on the time

(56:31):
required to turn the soil. Two men spent three and
a half hours at this job. Thus, Jefferson calculated one
man would take seven hours and could therefore be expected
to turn an acre of ground in four working days. Now,
that's a weird response to losing your best friend.

Speaker 2 (56:46):
Ji.

Speaker 1 (56:47):
Like I normally I say there's no wrong way to grieve,
But carefully studying the number of slave man hours needed
to bury your friend while you watch them dig his
grave is the wrong way to gree.

Speaker 2 (56:58):
Can you imagine a bad way? You imagine sitting next
to somebody grieving, putting your arm around him. They just
real quiet, and you're like bro mans On as you know,
you could talk to me about anything. Man, I love you, homie, Like,
I what do you have? What's what's how you feeling
right now?

Speaker 3 (57:11):
Man?

Speaker 2 (57:11):
What's what's what's feel in your mind?

Speaker 1 (57:13):
I feel like you could turn an acre of soil
in about four days.

Speaker 2 (57:17):
I'm sorry, Yeah, wait, that's what you were saying about
right now, okay, such a weird Now I'd be like,
oh yeah, all right man, Yeah, what do you say
to that? Like all right, all right, all right, Thomas, okay,
well let me know if you need anything, bro, Like.

Speaker 1 (57:36):
You're welcome for burying your friends, how about that?

Speaker 2 (57:39):
Yeah?

Speaker 1 (57:40):
So that same year, the same year that Dabney dies,
his father in law is also going to die, and
you know, fuck him. Uh, he leaves Martha Jefferson, eleven
thousand acres of land, thirty five slaves, and what biographers
generally describe as innumerable debts. The exact reason for those
debts is important to understand. If we're going to grab
fully how the man with the post abolition.

Speaker 2 (58:02):
It just says innumerable.

Speaker 1 (58:03):
Debts, innumerable debts.

Speaker 2 (58:05):
That's hilarious.

Speaker 1 (58:06):
This man is under fucking water, and it's we're going
to talk about why he's underwater, right, because.

Speaker 2 (58:12):
We're vague but also not vegue. Yeah, it's strangely accurate.
I was like, all right, all right, copy that, sir,
Yeah you're yeah, what is he what's being communicated? Yeah,
what's what is said is vague, but what being communicated
is spot on. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (58:27):
Yeah, and his again this guy Wales, John Wales, I
think has been a wholesale of human beings. And he
had shortly before dying, set up a big deal in
seventeen seventy two for a consignment of enslaved people coming
in on a boat called the Prince of Wales. Only
two hundred and eighty of the four hundred people aboard survived,
which was a high rate of loss. I mean, it

(58:49):
was never a low rate of loss, right, but this
was it was bad. Scene is bad, and this shrank
their potential profits. But then they sold two hundred and
sixty six of these people, and they did so on
credit to quote unquote wealthy planters who claim to be
good for it. And the planters were buying on credit
because they needed these guys to harvest their tobacco and
then they were going to sell the tobacco and then

(59:10):
they were going to pay back Whales. But then the
tobacco market crashed that year and the planters had no cash,
and thus Wales and his business partner had to make
good on the payment to the original slavers in London.
Thomas Jefferson inherited this debt in seventeen seventy three, and
he is it's going to take He's not really getting
out of this, right, Like this is going to be hanging.

(59:30):
It's like a student loan. It's like an evil student loan.
Student loans are a different kind of very different Yeah.

Speaker 2 (59:37):
Yeah, study loon only for slaves.

Speaker 1 (59:41):
Yes, yeah, it's like a student right, and like with
a similarly ruinous rate of interest. Right, So he's not
going to be able to really pay any of these
or the debts that he has accrued off. Situations like
this are not uncommon for the wealthy Virginia planting class, right,
these guys are wealthy in quotation marks. To explain this,
we have to talk about what Jefferson and his peers

(01:00:03):
considered wealth, right, because they're not talking about like cash, right.
They are talking about primarily land.

Speaker 2 (01:00:11):
Right.

Speaker 1 (01:00:11):
Wealth is land to a lot of these guys, and
the fact that all of them are hideously in debt,
mostly to British lenders, is inconvenient and a problem, But
it doesn't change their impression of themselves right as wealthy men.
But it does cause all these problems because that land
can be taken away, right, and debt is inherited in
this period, and so debt is going to be a
central issue for Jefferson. Over the course of his decades

(01:00:34):
in public life. He would often advocate for the elimination
of American debts held by English bankers during post war negotiations, and,
like Robert E. Lee a generation later, he came to
see the human beings that he had inherited as a
path out of the debt trap that his relatives and
his own spending had locked him into. In seventeen seventy
four and seventeen seventy five, the conflict of a British

(01:00:56):
taxation and rule of the colonies reached a fever pitch
and boiled over into armed resistance. Jefferson became a major
figure in Virginia and increasingly well known throughout the colonies
for his full throated, or at least full pinned because
he's not really a talking guy at this point, defense
of the Boston Tea Party. Now he writes a lot
about the tea Party, not historically accurate shit, but what

(01:01:18):
he writes sets the popular conception of this moment to
an extent that it still exists today. You can draw
a line from what Jefferson writes about these people to
like the tea Party that we had in the early odds, right,
And I'm going to quote from American Sphinx here. In
Jefferson's account, a dedicated group of loyal Bostonians risked arrest
and persecution to destroy a cargo of the contraband Samuel Adams,

(01:01:39):
a major figure in the Continental Congress and the chief
organizer of the Tea Party, must have chuckled in satisfaction,
knowing as he did that the loyal Bostonians were really
a group of hooligans and vandals who would disguised themselves
as Indians in order to avoid being identified, and who
had enjoyed the tacit support of the Boston merchants, many
of whom had made their fortunes in smuggling. Sam Adams
realized that the Tea Party was an orchestrat act of

(01:02:00):
revolutionary theater. Jefferson described it as a spontaneous act of patriotism,
conducted according to the etiquette of well a tea party.
But then again, perhaps Jefferson's version was itself a propagandistic manipulation,
just as self consciously orchestrated as the Tea Party itself. Now,
the whole point of that book by Ellis American sphinx.

(01:02:20):
The reason he calls it American sphinx is that Jefferson
has really hard to pin down about this and other stuff, right,
you can you can make a case if you're arguing
about like modern politics, he would be on both sides
of most issues of his day or of like today,
right like, because he's he's very inconsistent and he's really
had He's fine with lying to protect his own image.

(01:02:42):
He does it all the time. But he's also really
good at writing. He's a great writer, and so like
the stuff he writ. Ellis describes his writing on the
Tea Party as being like a fairy tale, right and
obviously the fact that that distortion gets passed down to
such an extent is a credit to his ability to
craft reality, which is very much what he is doing. Right.
He's building Ellis describes as like a fantasy world for

(01:03:06):
himself that is robust enough to occasionally admit the rest
of the country.

Speaker 2 (01:03:11):
And that's a good way.

Speaker 1 (01:03:13):
Yeah, that's a good way to say him. Yes, yeah, wow, yeah.
And we're going to talk about that and a lot
more in part two. But prop yo, it's the end
of part one. I hope you all had a good time. Prop,
You got any pluggables to play?

Speaker 2 (01:03:28):
And Politics will Prop. We do a hood politics vyballs
which don't have a don't have no cuss words in it,
and it's a little shorter so he could play to
the kiddos. But yeah bull Politics will Prop. Go to
prop hip hop dot com. You could find the pod
on all of the things and uh yeah man, and
I'm gonna continue to rock with y'all. Man, oh, I

(01:03:50):
wrote a book of poetry book Terror.

Speaker 1 (01:03:52):
You sure did? Yeah and yeah man excellent. Well, everybody,
that's it for part one. Come back tomorrow where we'll
talk about more. Thomas Jefferson Bye. Behind the Bastards is
a production of cool Zone Media.

Speaker 2 (01:04:12):
For more from cool Zone Media, visit

Speaker 1 (01:04:14):
Our website Coolzonemedia dot com, or check us out on
the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Behind the Bastards News

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Host

Robert Evans

Robert Evans

Show Links

StoreRSSAbout

Popular Podcasts

Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

Connect

© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.