A Book of Great Price
I thought I'd ordered the last of the endangered books – books that either criticize the current administration, expose the Liberal Progressives for what they are, or revise revisionist history (in other words, the authors tell the truth). After all, I am unemployed and have to watch my spending.
However, I consider this an important cause, not only for the sake of preserving a history that can disappear as quickly as you can say “recycle” but for my education as well as those of future generations. Since I have no children, my books will be passed on to a campus Tea Party.
I’d barely given a sigh of relief that my spending spree was over, when I began listening to Glenn Beck discuss the plight of author David Barton. Barton has written well over 25 books. His latest is The Jefferson Lies. He exposes the myths and lies that have been generated about Jefferson for about the last 30 years. The chief generators have been black liberation theologists and their Liberal cohorts.
Warren Throckmorton, a college psychology professor, accuses Barton of making serious errors in The Jefferson Lies. Among these errors was that Thomas Jefferson did not “invest” in the publication of a Bible of the times. He was a “subscriber.” However, in those days, that’s how publishers sold books. Benjamin Franklin had subscribers as well. On Glenn Beck’s program, Barton noted that a dictionary of the times gave “investment” as a meaning of “subscription.”
We “invest” in our educations. I invested in a collection of books that may very well be out of print one day. Several of my books are out of print, including China’s Destiny. Strangely, Prof. Throckmorton gathered about him a group of gullible evangelical Christians to pressure Thomas Nelson Publishers to pull the book from the shelves, even though it’s a best-seller.
I don’t really need to read this particular book of Barton’s, though I admire him greatly. Back in the mid-Nineties, my mother and I visited Monticello. Being a history buff and a former reporter, Mom questioned our tour guide at length, long after the “been-there-done-that” tourists had left for the local amusement park or Williamsburg.
We’d already heard about Throckmorton’s theories and were curious as to the truth. I knew from my history classes that it had been against the law for slave-owners to free their slaves. According to our guide, by the end of his life, Jefferson was broke. He would have freed the slaves, or his heirs would have, but the buyer insisted that the slaves go along with the property.
Barton tells us that slaveholders could have freed their slaves, but they had to post a bond for each slave to guarantee their conduct. Monticello was a large estate and Jefferson had something like 120 slaves. He didn’t have the money to pay their bonds. Thus, they were sold, with the property, to the next owner.
As for Sally Hemming’s child, we asked our tour guide about that piece of gossip. He said no one knew for sure. However, Jefferson wasn’t at Monticello very often, being away on government business as legislator, ambassador, secretary of state, vice president and president, as well as penning the Declaration of Independence. His brother Randolph, the guide said, ran his estate for him. He looked very much like his brother, Thomas, and the suspicion was that Randolph was the father of Sally Hemming’s child, not the frequently-absent Thomas.
As for his alleged deism, a belief which states that there’s no need for organized religion, Glenn Beck produced a document signed by Thomas Jefferson, with the dated script “In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 1803.” Critics say Jefferson didn’t write it, that he didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and that it was simply part of the printed text. However, that specious argument would conclude that he wasn’t the author of any of that document’s text to which he signed his name.
Nevertheless, this Conservative Christian group was successful in pressuring Thomas Nelson Publishers into recalling the book from stores and destroying it. Glenn rightly pointed out that the publisher’s researchers must do a terrible job of fact-checking, if the book had so many errors. Nor, apparently, did they bother to fact-check the critic’s claims. As editors often do, when the phone rings one too many times, or they get too many flaming e-mails, they crumple up like a piece of paper. This fecklessness, along with the trend toward e-books and political correctness could spell the end of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and the beginning of a new age of censorship.
Censorship, if you bother to read into history, before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, was one of the reasons the colonialists fled England for America. The future of books – and history – is looking dim.
Even though my financial future is very uncertain, I still went to my computer and ordered up a copy of Barton’s book as soon as Glenn Beck’s program was over. Amazon.com no longer offers it, but I found a copy all the same and it should be on its way. What did the Bible say about the man who, when he found a pearl of great price, he sold everything he owned to have it.
When Mom finds out I bought this book, she’ll either say, “What’s the matter with you? You’re going to run out of money!” Or: “I want to read it as soon as you’re finished with it.”