Sally Hemmings and her People didn’t get “it” or anything from Jefferson except oppressed. Jefferson said at once what all men deserved and then bby act and intent defined black African slaves as less than men. For all his words, he helped to establish cruel hypocrisy as rule defining human beings by skin color as only worth “3/5s of himself”. He not only helped author it, he established the practice of it in the new country he helped found.

The hypocricy is key to the credit Jefferson should get for our freedom today. As Lincoln used Jefferson to justify his emancipatory work, Jefferson could also be used as a role model of FDR who engaged in Japanese Internment while we fought the genocidal Nazi menace in Europe.

He could also be seen as a predecessor to the racist Strom Thurmond who stomped about demeaning black constituents and warning of the evils of “miscegenation” only to be lover and parent to black constituents:

The point was underscored dramatically last week when the family of Strom Thurmond, the former United States senator, dropped decades of denials and acknowledged that Mr. Thurmond, who died last summer at the age of 100, had fathered a daughter with a black maid in the family household in 1925. The daughter, a retired teacher named Essie Mae Washington-Williams, 78, had periodically denied Mr. Thurmond’s paternity for the public record but had passed on the truth to her children, who pressured her to come forward after Mr. Thurmond’s death last June.

Like most stories of its kind, this one would have died out long ago had it not been carried for nearly a century on the tongues of black South Carolinians, who recognized the story of Strom Thurmond and Essie Mae Washington-Williams’s mother as a universal story of black families across the state.

It was not, however, the official story. The biographer Nadine Cohodas dismissed it as a ”legend in the black community” a decade ago in her book ”Strom Thurmond and the Politics of Southern Change.” Another writer of the South described it as apparently without foundation — a phrase that is used all the time to dismiss the black oral tradition as apocryphal.

Thurmond probably got his strength from Jefferson as well.

“Without foundation”. What they say is without foundation. There’s no right for them to tell their story. But Thurmond probably got his strength from Jefferson to publicly say this in 1948 two years before his black daughter turned 23:

“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres into our swimming pools into our homes and into our churches.”

Those legacies exist too and Jefferson was one of the slave owning founding fathers that made it as old as the United States themselves. That’s the thing about legacies, people can take their own lessons from your legacy once you’re dead.

In the terse dismissive style of David Post: Jefferson wrote some of the most eloquent pro-rights, pro-freedom words ever. So What?