Descendant of Thomas Jefferson Calls for the Removal of His Memorial in DC

As officials around the country re-examine memorials of historical figures, a descendant of a former president says it is time for the memorial to be removed.

In an op-ed in The New York Times, Lucian K. Truscott IV, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, says it is time for his memorial in Washington, D.C., to go.

Truscott shares how his great-aunt and great-grandmother would take him and his brother to Jefferson’s home, Monticello, “They treated Monticello like it was the family home, because in a way it was.”

“We didn’t need the Jefferson Memorial. Monticello was enough. It’s still enough. In fact, as a memorial to Jefferson himself, it’s almost perfect,” he said.

He continued, “That is why his memorial in Washington should be taken down and replaced. Described by the National Park Service as ‘a shrine to freedom,’ it is anything but.”

Truscott went on to note that Jefferson owned 600 slaves, and “upon his death, he did not free the people he enslaved, other than those in the Hemings family, some of whom were his own children. He sold everyone else to pay off his debts.”

Additionally, he noted that visitors of Monticello learn about Jefferson’s history as a slave owner and the writer of the Declaration of Independence.

“At Monticello, you will learn the history of Jefferson, the man who was president and wrote the Declaration of Independence, and you will learn the history of Jefferson, the slave owner. Monticello is an almost perfect memorial, because it reveals him with his moral failings in full, an imperfect man, a flawed founder.”

He added, “That’s why we don’t need the Jefferson Memorial to celebrate him. He should not be honored with a bronze statue 19 feet tall, surrounded by a colonnade of white marble. The time to honor the slave-owning founders of our imperfect union is past.”

Instead, Truscott said he woud like to see “a 19-foot-tall bronze statue of a Black woman, who was a slave and also a patriot, in place of a white man who enslaved hundreds of men and women is not erasing history. It’s telling the real history of America.”

As there have been protests against police violence and racism across the country, many have begun to re-examine statues and monuments of historical figures.

Across the country, protesters have torn down statues of Christopher Columbus due to his racist legacy. However, protesters have also targeted statues of George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass.

And some have suggested that Mount Rushmore should be removed, as IJR reported.

The renewed focus on race and the legacies of past presidents come in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd, a black man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Responses

  1. Chuck, of all the goofy ideas you just listed, the idea that this mess in the fourth year of Trump is all to be blamed on Obama, is just perverted and flat out untrue. Liberalism, and conservative restraint, made the country great from its rebuilding during the great depression through to this new century. That includes the Obama years. I personally don’t have a lot of regard for his presidential leadership (he was tentative and visionless and inexperienced), but he didn’t put the country on the road to ruin. He won two elections against credible opponents (although a factor was Sarah Palin, the conservative toxic equivalent of Hillary), and was a symbol of how much we had overcome our foundation in slavery.

    Jefferson was an example of a man whose vision could surpass his substantial faults, enslaving. I’m comfortable keeping him as a hero in our history. I’m an American, I like my country, I’ll like it better when Trump and his crowd of howling racists are not screwing it up, and I’ll stick around for the fight.

  2. I have an idea. Let’s tell all these creatures trying to tear down America to piss up a rope. How that be??? I’m tired of this BS. If you don’t like this country, LEAVE!!!!!! This is not the British Isles, France, Germany, Greece, Spain or any other Socialist leaning country. America is a country with history and Americans have been thriving (including Blacks that worked and built a decent life) for a long time. We donate more to foreign countries than anyone, give away free medical care (at the cost of high medical care for us), free or extremely low cost medicine (at the cost of very high cost to us) and help to anyone that asks. It’s time to stop trashing America before we end this BS. Start tearing down monuments in Washington and elsewhere and you’re going to face a civil war. This mess we’re in is the real legacy of Obama. He’s the one that started this during his corrupt administration. Despite what the Liberal liars will say, these riots and demonstrations against America started then.

  3. Brian, you could tell or write it down like in a will. He was an educated man, an affluent man. He could have been a decent human being like others were when their slaves were released. He knew how to rape them and have children with them.

  4. Cheryl – Most presidents recognize the tight rope and tread carefully after a major event to avoid racial tensions getting to this point.

    There have been several incidents – one right after the other and not all involving police – and the leader of the nation is purposefully making things worse rather than trying to cool tempers.

    That’s why this is happening now vs previous administrations.

  5. Have to wonder how this character claims descendency. Is it through Sally H

  6. Just curious. Why weren’t these statue and monument issues important during the Obama/Biden reign of indifference? Why now?

  7. “Jefferson owned 600 slaves, and “upon his death, he did not free the people he enslaved”

    umm….how do you something like that after you die? This article is written terribly.

  8. Looks like Truscott will have to go back to England,after all he was related to Slave Owners.The World is laughing at you.Every Country on the Planet had Slaves,it was customary,you lost a Battle and became Slaves.I guess they don’t teach History in almighty America.

  9. Nope! Don’t really give a cow pie what his descendant thinks. This isn’t a monument to his descendants, it a monument to a Founding Father and the 3rd President of this great nation.

  10. Well then let’s tear down every pyramid, Roman coliseum, every King and Queen, all African statues of men who enslaved Africans, all of Islam whose “prophet” was a slave owner, modern China needs shut down so Nike and many US companies can’t use Chinese slaves and just get rid of all mankind now that I think about it

  11. His relative is partly correct. According to official handwritten documents on display at Monticello, Jefferson himself ordered all his slaves to be liberated upon his death. It was his family who sold them after his death to pay off his debts.

  12. I think we need to bale out of DC and put the Nations Capital in a safer environment where folks can stroll along and admire the view without fear of the savages who inhabit the place killing them.

  13. Funny, but without those slave-owning founders none of us would be here today, most especially this guy who is a descendant of Jefferson. Our founders had their faults just like anyone does. But they created a nation that has been the envy of all the world ever since. Most of them did not believe in slave ownership, but they depended on it for their livelihoods. They recognized the conflict of creating a nation built on freedom while enslaving some was a contradiction but they had to pick their battles. Had they not created the nation, slavery might very well still exist here today. It was not the British or the French who finally put an end to it. It was the US who sacrificed hundreds of thousands of its citizens to finally end it. So, it’s a double edged sword. Was it horrible that they owned slaves? Of course. And many of them recognized that but had no choice at the time. They should not be celebrated because they owned slaves, but they should be celebrated for creating the nation that finally ended it.

  14. This is dumb.

    Confederate statues? Sure, I’m very supportive with taking those down as there is no relevant reason for us to remember the confederacy with any hint of reverance. If confederate symbolism is needed then it should only be in context of moving forward as Americans and on equal ground together.

    But American statues celebrating American figures should not be touched. Leaders are not perfect. But they are relevant to American history and the great leaders we’ve had should be recognized as such.

    1. American historical statues are American historical statues. You either leave them all up or take them all down.

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