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The Jefferson Lies - Taking on the Critics

The Jefferson Lies - Taking on the Critics

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Published by James Artre
For those who may have been influenced by seeing a negative critique of The Jefferson Lies, I urge you to read the book yourself, examine its 756 footnotes, and allow Jefferson to speak on his own behalf. I predict that if you do, you will be persuaded by the abundance of primary source documentation and will quickly see through the shallow motives behind the critics’ self-serving and disingenuous attacks.us scholars in law and academics claim exclusive knowledge they believe places them above ordinary citizens.
For those who may have been influenced by seeing a negative critique of The Jefferson Lies, I urge you to read the book yourself, examine its 756 footnotes, and allow Jefferson to speak on his own behalf. I predict that if you do, you will be persuaded by the abundance of primary source documentation and will quickly see through the shallow motives behind the critics’ self-serving and disingenuous attacks.us scholars in law and academics claim exclusive knowledge they believe places them above ordinary citizens.

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Published by: James Artre on Nov 04, 2012
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04/16/2013

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1
The Jefferson Lies
: Taking on the Critics
For generations, America recognized an equality of individualism that made the carpenter asimportant as the university president and the shopkeeper the equal of the statesman. But today,under the influence of Poststructuralism, America has begun to divide itself into groups basednot only on identity (e.g., black/white/Latino, straight/gay, union/right-to-work,conservative/liberal, etc.) but also on distinctions such as economic income, social standing, andeven degree of academic knowledge – and especially in the latter category as pretentiousscholars in law and academics claim exclusive knowledge they believe places them aboveordinary citizens.For example, I repeatedly hear legislators urge that a bill be passed so that they can find outfrom the judges whether or not it is constitutional. They apparently believe that only a smallgroup is capable of unraveling the meaning of the Constitution and have forgotten that it isactually a very simple document that can be read in its entirety in less than twenty minutes. Infact, it is so easy to understand that for decades, school children took an annual written exam todemonstrate their mastery of its content; and popular texts included the 1828
Catechism on theConstitution
by Arthur Stansbury – a work for 
elementary
students. Thankfully, citizens have begun bypassing America’s frequently haughty academic aristocracy – evidenced by the fact thattwo recent modern-language editions of 
The Federalist Papers
have become national best-sellers.And just as they have done with the Constitution, academic elitists have also tried to makethemselves the sole caretakers of historical knowledge, holding that history is too complicated,with too many intricacies for the average person to understand. They even become intolerant of those who try to break through these false barriers and open history to the average citizen. I personally know this to be true, for I often find myself the object of their attacks.I have penned numerous best-selling history works, and characteristic of each is a heavyreliance on primary-source documentation. Across the past twenty years, I have amassed acollection of some 100,000 originals (or certified copies of originals) predating 1812, includinghand-written documents and works of those who framed and signed the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Not many individuals in America haveread more original works (or fewer modern ones) than I have; and the general public hasresponded enthusiastically to this history based on original documentation.In fact, notice how these types of history books regularly appear on the
 New York Times
  bestseller list. Whether it is David McCullough’s
 John Adams
, Glenn Beck’s
 Being GeorgeWashington
, Newt Gingrich’s
Valley Forge
, or my own
The Jefferson Lies,
people are willing to pay good money to learn the simple uncomplicated history that used to be taught in school.Conversely, typical history works by modern elitist professors generally sell very poorly; andseeing their own influence wane, they often lash out and condescendingly criticize the more popular documentary works. But this practice is not new. After all, when the Apostle Paul beganto attract a growing following, some of the intellectuals of his day who were losing standing“went wild with jealousy and tore into Paul, contradicting everything he was saying,” “sowingmistrust and suspicion in the minds of the people” (Acts 13:44-45, 14:2).After 
The Jefferson Lies,
rose to a
 New York Times
best-seller, similar attacks were launchedagainst it from academic elitists. I will address three of these attacks below, but first, I musttackle their oft-repeated talking-point that I am not a qualified historian – a claim they make to
 
2cast a shadow of doubt over all the facts I present. However, this charge, like their others, iscompletely false. After all, I am:
 
Recognized as an historical expert by both state and federal courts;
 
Called to testify as an historical expert by both the federal and state legislatures;
 
Selected as an historical expert by State Boards of Education across the nation to assist inwriting history and social studies standards for those states;
 
Consulted as an historical expert by public school textbook publishers, helping write best-selling history texts used in public schools and universities across the nation.Their real objection is that I make history uncomplicated, and thus make them irrelevant. Infact, the very point of 
The Jefferson Lies
was to allow Jefferson to speak for himself through his19,000 letters, thereby eliminating the need for the educational elitists who for the past fiftyyears have anointed themselves as Jefferson’s sole interpreters.Consider some of their objections against
The Jefferson Lies.
 
Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter
A common mantra for today’s academics is “Publish or die.” Believing that if they are not publishing something new that their academic career is regressing, they therefore regularly“discover” something they believe to be a new revelation on some obscure micropoint of history,and then, as if having received an earth-shattering revelation, write an article or book giving their  personal opinions about it. Significantly, however, the public does not respond well to theseworks, for publishers claim that with few exceptions most academic scholars’ books sell onlytwo hundred or so copies a year.
1
 Reflecting that trend, the work penned against
The Jefferson Lies
 by professors WarrenThrockmorton and Michael Coulter was picked up by no publisher; the two simply placed their critique into electronic reader format to be purchased and downloaded, just as any high-schooler can do with his own research paper. (Throckmorton is a psychology professor at Grove Collegecurrently writing about sexual orientation and identity, and Coulter teaches political sciencethere.)They begin by candidly admitting that they are critiquing “Barton and religious conservativesin general,”
2
thereby openly confessing their hostility toward me and my personal religious beliefs. As they acknowledge up front, and as will be evident below, their real problem with
The Jefferson Lies
is much more about its worldview than its historical content.For example, early in the book I applaud American Exceptionalism, which I define as “the belief that America is blessed and enjoys unprecedented stability, prosperity, and liberty as aresult of the institutions and policies produced by unique ideas such as God-given inalienablerights, individualism, limited government, full republicanism, and an educated and virtuouscitizenry.”
3
But Throckmorton and Coulter launch into a lengthy exegesis, quoting a number of liberal professors to prove that American Exceptionalism is a bad thing, not something good.
4
 So from the start, these two make clear that they object to the philosophy I set forth thatAmerica’s blessings, prosperity, and liberties are the result of God-given rights and ideas.Another insightful moment in their critique occurs when these two try to explain away those100,000 originals that form much of the basis of my historical works. They attempt to dismiss
 
3those works by stating, “While he [Barton] does have a nice collection of Bibles and signatures,he also has a lot of old newspapers which have little relevance to the claims he makes.”
5
  Notwithstanding the fact that they’ve never seen my collection and therefore don’t know whatI do have, their comment about old newspapers is particularly revealing. Every genuine historianknows that old newspapers have
 great 
significance; in fact, it is hard to underestimate theimportance of old newspapers in the way that these two have done. While newspapers do notreplace primary source writings when such are available, there are definitely many times thatnewspapers themselves become the primary source documents and therefore cannot be dismissedout of hand as these two professors have done.Significantly, many of the writings of the Founding Fathers, including the indispensable
 Federalist Papers,
first appeared as newspaper articles; and old newspapers regularly containnoteworthy historical information found in no other source. For example, nowhere in GeorgeWashington’s writings does he say that he leaned over and kissed the Bible at his inauguration, but numerous old newspapers reporting those proceedings establish that fact (along withreporting the six other religious activities that occurred at his inauguration). So, contrary to their  preposterous claim, old newspapers
do
have much relevance, not only to my claims but alsothose made by many other historical writers as well.Furthermore, while my collection does include a “nice collection of Bibles and signatures,” italso has scores of full-length books by Founding Fathers as well as countless legal works, courtrulings, religious sermons, military writings, original documents from black history, women’shistory, and writings in scores of other areas. Yet even if it were nothing more than a “nicecollection of Bibles and signatures,” that would still be significant, for that collection containsBibles such as the John Thompson Bible of 1798, which documents Jefferson’s role in helping print that Bible – an aspect of Jefferson’s actions that these professors foolishly dismiss as beinginsignificant.But aside from their flawed view about the importance of specific types of original documents,consider some of the absurdities contained in their critique. For example, Throckmorton andCoulter object to my statement that, “In 1803, President Jefferson signed a treaty with theKaskaskia tribe to provide them Christian ministry and teaching.”
6
To prove their objection, theyquote the treaty, including the part stating:
 And whereas
, the greater part of the said [Kaskaskia] tribe have been baptised [sic] andreceived into the Catholic church to which they are much attached, the United States willgive annually for seven years one hundred dollars towards the support of a priest of thatreligion, who will engage to perform for the said tribe the duties of his office and also toinstruct as many of their children as possible in the rudiments of literature. And theUnited States will further give the sum of three hundred dollars to assist the said tribe inthe erection of a church.
7
 This treaty is signed at the bottom by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State JamesMadison.So, let’s see: I state that Jefferson signed a treaty “with the Kaskaskia tribe to provide themChristian ministry and teaching,” and the two provide the part of the treaty proving that it does. Imade the simple statement; they show documentation that the statement was correct; end of story, right? Hardly! After proving that the treaty does indeed have that provision, they thenlaunch into a lengthy explanation attempting to show why that provision is really not important.

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