Monticello, Virginia is a historic estate custom designed and built by one of America’s most famous Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson. In addition to being the third president of the United States, a young nation on a land that he had helped wrestle away from tyranny, Jefferson’s life is extraordinary and one that can and should be explored and learned from, debated, but most of all cherished. As one of the main authors of America’s Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a thought-leader who expressed with grace and wisdom the idea of the American experiment. His role as one of the many great men in the history of the world has always been accepted. But today, the Monticello estate and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation that operates it, are now shamefully changing history and displaying the third American president in such a way that the visitor comes away with a feeling of disgust and contempt.
Over the last few years, towns and cities across America have been taken over by the radical woke mob and allowed “cancel culture” to take over. Attempts to remove statues, rename schools, and essentially erase American history, even the bad parts, have continued for years. Among the early targets was Thomas Jefferson, when in 2005, San Francisco, CA parents and educators debated changing Berkeley’s Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and it continues to this day. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, the Falls Church City Public Schools board in Virginia voted unanimously to rename Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and George Mason High School, after a six-month evaluation process that included a community survey where 56% said they were against renaming the school. In 2021, a statue of Thomas Jefferson was removed from the New York City Hall, where it had stood for 187 years. In 2022, community members in the South Orange-Maplewood School District voted to change the name of their Thomas Jefferson elementary school, referring to the third President as an “enslaver.”
Today, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation is welcoming visitors to Monticello to tell them a story that is more about the horrors of slavery than it is about the one of our country’s greatest founding fathers. A scathing investigation by the New York Post published this summer revealed that the “hilltop mansion designed by Jefferson himself, once preserved as a tribute to the author of the Declaration of Independence, now offers visitors a harangue on the horrors of slavery.”
“The whole thing has the feel of propaganda and manipulation,” Jeffrey Tucker, founder of the libertarian Brownstone Institute and a recent visitor, told The Post. “People on my tour seemed sad and demoralized.” Visitors young and old, from around the world, are being introduced to the Monticello estate and president Thomas Jefferson in an incredibly misleading way.
An advertisement by the Mountaintop Project asks visitors to download the “Slavery at Monticello” smartphone app. Guests this summer were startled to see a portrait of a faceless Jefferson, where a black tar like substance makes up his figure.
A review of the people serving on the Board of Directors of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation unsurprisingly reveals a list of big-money Democratic donors and former Democrat Party officials over the last thirty years. The funding to restore the “landscape of slavery” as it now reads on a sign at Monticello, has been funded by “left-leaning philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, who donated $20 million toward that effort in 2015,” the Post found.
There is always a way to honestly and respectfully tell the story of slavery and the great injustice that it was. It is true that free speech, open and honest debate, are intrinsically unique to the American spirit. But that is not the story that is being told.
That is why it is so shameful to see the Thomas Jefferson Foundation leadership engage in propagating a revisionist history of Monticello that smears one of the great inventors, thinkers, architects, and statesmen of all time. Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence paved the way for the eventual abolition of slavery in the US. Mainstream Democrats used to revere the founding fathers and the great experiment of freedom. JFK was fond of quoting Jefferson at length and even chose a font for Air Force One from an early version of the Declaration of Independence. The far-left of today’s Democratic Party would be wise to learn their history and instead be grateful for the immense sacrifice made by our country’s founding fathers and patriots.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action