Alexis de Tocqueville, the French nobleman who authored the classic, two-volume Democracy in America (1835-1840), came to the United States because he wanted to understand the country that was on the cutting edge of that “irresistible fact” called democracy. Tocqueville “cite[d] [Thomas] Jefferson in preference to everyone else on this matter because I consider him to be the most powerful apostle that democracy has ever had.”
Mary Grabar, Resident Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), wants to restore Jefferson to his earned standing among the greatest of the founding fathers. In “Return Thomas Jefferson Statues to Their Rightful Place,” Dr. Grabar notes that black civil right-leaders in the early twentieth century admired Jefferson not because he was flawless, but because of the color-blind principles associated with his name. “They knew that Jefferson had been a slaveowner,” she observes. “Yet Jefferson was for them, the ‘Apostle of Liberty,’” Indeed, the first abolitionist newspaper in the United States, Benjamin Lundy’s the Genius of Universal Emancipation, introduced each issue with the most resonant passage from the Declaration of Independence.
Dr. Grabar, who emigrated to the United States with her parents from a Communist country, fears for the future of her adopted homeland. “The attacks on Jefferson monuments are more than attacks on Jefferson the man. They are attacks on our American principles. It is no coincidence that those calling for the removal of Jefferson’s likeness are often the same people who reject longstanding American principles and embrace critical race theory.”
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