Thursday, March 22, 2012

Link roundup

1. Criticizing a new Thomas Jefferson exhibit at the Smithsonian:

When Sally was 14, and a slave at Monticello, she accompanied Jefferson’s daughter, Polly, on a trip to France in 1787. Jefferson was about three decades her senior and widowed. She lived in France for two years, returning alongside Jefferson after the French Revolution. Their “relationship” turned sexual either in France, when Hemings was about 16, or upon their return to Monticello. Sally herself was born not far from Monticello. She was Jefferson’s wife’s half-sister, having been born to John Wayles, Jefferson’s father-in-law, and Betty Hemings, who was enslaved on Wayles’ plantation.

Until at least 1998, many of Jefferson’s biographers rejected this narrative. As biographer Joseph Ellis said in his 1997 book American Sphinx, this type of affair would have “defied the dominant patterns of his personality.” But once DNA evidence confirmed that Jefferson had “likely” fathered several of Hemings’ children, the dissenting views became the province of groups like the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society that vows to “stand always in opposition to those who would seek to undermine the integrity of Thomas Jefferson.” In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which runs Monticello, released a report stating that there was a “high probability” that Jefferson fathered six of Hemings’ children, even though the current exhibit puts the number at four.

If anything, it's not that the public has had trouble "understanding" the affair, it's that many scholars and public institutions have been blocking the view.
2. Defendant exposes federal prosecutor as anonymous internet commenter on news articles abut the ongoing trial. Via these sites.

3. Downloadable John Carter decoder badge.