Jefferson was a real shitheel.

I’ve always been fascinated by Jefferson. We all know his good deeds and this thread is not to detract from that. But I am looking for information about his bad character traits.

Yes, we know he said that all men were created equal while keeping people in bondage.

I’m more interested in some of his other bad traits. Debts, secret children with Sally Hemmings, hypocracy etc. Any links with good reads would be appreciated.

He was an ivory tower intellectual. And then when he was placed in a real world situation, he found himself unable to live within the principles he espoused. So he went outside his principles but never acknowledged that he was doing so. He was one of the first great hypocrites of American politics.

I believe he said bad stuff 'bout the Mets.

I’m not sure you can say that Florence was really “in bondage” to Jefferson, even though she would on occasion intimate otherwise. As far as any aspersions on his character, I might offer that he was only able to finance his financial empire after winning a civil suit regarding a personal injury and being awarded a considerable sum. Using the court system in this way is the very reason we have “ambulance chasers” - a most distasteful profession. It was legal, however, and with the proceeds Jefferson was able to open his first dry cleaning operation.

Fawn Brodie’s Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History is a good starting point. Along with the story of Sally Hemings, Brodie describes many other of his good and bad traits. There is no doubt he was highly intelligent. Yet he seems to have been completely unable to live within, or even close to, his mean.

I’m surprised this isn’t in IMHO. It’s not mundane or pointless.

Ordered. To be delivered Wednesday…

This article makes the case that he had Asperger’s syndrome. He’s #3 on the list. It list some of his more peculiar traits as evidence.

Isn’t the Sally Hemmings debate still ongoing? It could have been Jefferson or it could have been a Jefferson.

Regardless, he was a titan of his age but flawed. In other words he was human.

I’ve read Jefferson’s finances were pretty usual for a Southern Plantation owner at the time. Most of them were heavily leveraged, and basically planned around their assets being liquidated to pay their debts upon their deaths. Washington spent the first half of his life living beyond his means as well, though he managed to get back in the black when he received a large inheritence.
IIRC, Jefferson’s leadership of the VA militia was pretty lackluster.

Jefferson is fascinating and frustrating. The guy was undoubtedly brilliant, a voracious reader, and interested in a host of subjects. He invented writing deskd, leaning chairs, and measuring devices. He wrote beautifully. He espoused great ideals about liberty and government.

On the other hand, he didn’t treat his slaves like people, evidently had that affair with Hemings, didn’t free his slaves (who mostly had to be sold at his death to pay his debts). He msade a mess of his term as governor of Virginia during the Revolution. He worked to undermine Adams during his presidency. During his own presidency he did things that seem outrageously against the highfalutin’ democratic principles he espoused. His passage of the Mbargo Act created an incredible mess, hurt the country economically, and turned the Northeast against him.
Half the time I want to admire him and half the time I want to kick him. a genuine intellectual who gave us the Declaration of Independence, the University of Virginia, decimal currency, the Louisiana Purchase, and a raft of other things, but who (as notred above) was sometimes unable to put into practice his ideas and could act in ways totally opposed to his philosophy.

cut the guy some slack. the country needed another famous forefather name for things and he got picked. everything couldn’t be named after Washington. Franklin was too nerdy and bald. Adams, well it would be too confusing with Adam.

I mean, look at Hamilton.

Killed in a duel, that had to take place in New Jersey, because of a New York law forbidding duels, that Hamilton wrote, and was prompted by the fact that his son died in a duel. Apparently he thought dueling was wrong and horrible, except when it came to a fellow name of Aaron Burr, who he thought needed killing.

Sometimes people just gonna do, what they gonna do. They were men, not gods.

Back to the OP, I have a copy of American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson on my to-read pile.

It was surely Tommy Jefferson based on other circumstantial evidence. Most people don’t picture his relationship with Sally Hemmings the right way. She wasn’t a field slave that he simply used as a sex object. Sally was his sister-in-law through his deceased former wife and she was only 1/4 black. They had a concubine relationship that might have been a legal marriage if not for their differences in social status. Their resulting kids were only 1/8th black and Jefferson freed them as they became of age. It was a less than ideal situation for all involved but perfectly understandable based on the laws and social expectations of the day.

His bigotry was never on display as much as when he was forced to associate w/ the kind but mixed-race couple who lived nearby. Their single fault being they were not of the same race, their lovely and intelligent daughter was still unwelcome in Jefferson’s home though she loved his son unceasingly and bore his child. That small child was the only one spared the brutal words and ugly prejudice Jefferson could not contain and all around him bore w/ great humor. Not even a local diplomatic emissary was immune to Jefferson’s rages and chicanery.

I was never impressed with his de-luxe apartment in the sky.

I think Weezy should have kicked his ass some more, but it was likely that she didn’t want to give up that deluxe apartment in the sky and have George hook up with Flo (or, worse, Helen Willis).

In Hamilton’s defense, Burr did need killing.

Is your whole passage a quote from somewhere? If not, can you provide some context? For instance, who is the “local diplomatic emissary” and what “rages and chicanery” was that person exposed to?

I have this odd feeling we’re talking about two different Jeffersons, but I can’t quite place my finger on where the differences lie.