Jimmy’s Washington Examiner Op-Ed | Frederick Douglass would stand up for the Jefferson Memorial

Written by on July 8, 2020

Lucian Truscott is the sixth-generation great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson. Truscott seems to think his family history (being a direct descendant of the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president) gives him all credibility to call for the Jefferson Memorial to be removed.

Truscott contends “we don’t need” the monument. Monticello is enough because it emphasizes “his moral failings in full.” The Jefferson Memorial, by contrast, stands as a false “shrine to freedom.” And Truscott, as a descendant of Jefferson, clearly thinks he has full and unique authority to call for its removal.

What Truscott, writing in Monday’s New York Times, seems not to understand is that Jefferson and his memory do not belong to him and his family. He actually belongs to the United States. After all, Jefferson penned the words to what my radio colleague George Brauchler calls “the world’s greatest Dear John Letter.”

Indeed, the Declaration of Independence is essentially America’s breakup letter with the world’s most powerful empire, explaining why, try as we might, it’s really just not working anymore, and we can’t keep going like this. But the Declaration of Independence is much more than that. It is a profound statement of timeless and genuinely revolutionary principles of human liberty. For the first time in history, the ideas of “consent of the governed” and “unalienable rights” were proclaimed unequivocally.

So believed Frederick Douglass, an American slave born in February 1818. Douglass’s seminal 1852 address, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”, is best known for his powerful, resounding, and emotive denunciation of slavery. But what most people do not know about the speech is how highly he spoke of the Declaration of Independence and its signers, warts and all.

“I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny,” Douglass said of Jefferson’s brainchild. “The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”

What Douglass, a freed slave and self-educated man, understood is that the nation was not devoid of valuable principles. Its Constitution, he argued, “is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT” [emphasis in the original] that is also “entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.”

America in 1852 was drenched in hypocrisy: a failure to live up to its own stated belief in human freedom.

Yet still, Douglass recognized the need to celebrate the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who he called “great men too — great enough to give fame to a great age.”…

Click here to read the rest of Jimmy’s July 8 op-ed for The Washington Examiner.


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