Repetition can’t turn slander into truth, and old lies remain false. But when it comes to the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, renowned historian David Barton, who was the No. 1 trending topic on Google earlier this week, argues that generations of Americans have been deceived into believing slanderous lies about one of the greatest wordsmiths our nation has ever known: the author of the Declaration of Independence and our third president.
History books routinely teach that Jefferson was an anti-Christian secularist, rewriting the Bible to his liking, fathering a child with one of his slaves, and little more than another racist, bigoted colonist—but none of those claims are actually true.
Barton is revealing his discoveries about the real Thomas Jefferson in a new book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, which is celebrating its second week on The New York Times’ Best-seller List.
“I thought I knew Jefferson,” says Barton. “I’d certainly read plenty of books and articles about him, and I’d studied him in school and college. I’d also read much that today’s Christian writers have said about Jefferson. I had developed what I considered to be a fair breadth of knowledge about Jefferson.
“But over the course of the past two decades as WallBuilders collected original writings and artifacts from the Founding Era (we currently have over 100,000 documents from before 1812), a very different view of him began to appear.”
Over the years our nation has seen an increasing trending toward revisionist history. The Founding Fathers have become victims of this distortion of historical record, oftentimes in an attempt to carve the way for various political agendas. In order to establish a firm foundation on which our country can continue to grow, it is essential to understand the truths about the people and events on which this great nation was built.
In the pages of The Jefferson Lies, Barton is taking a stand for factual history by sifting through the lies that have been planted and now taken root as fact in the general public’s mind. Barton sheds a light of truth on the real Jefferson, a man that many will be meeting for the very first time.
“The Jefferson that was readily visible in his own writings and documents, and in the testimony of those who knew him and intimately worked with him, was so different from the one about which I had been taught,” notes Barton. “I felt compelled to find out why there is a Jefferson that everyone thinks they know, but a genuine Jefferson that no one in this generation seems to really know.
“As I began to research the answer to that question, I discovered that the current portrayal of Jefferson is a modern one rather than a historical one,” adds Barton. “Most of today’s writers about Jefferson have relied almost exclusively on sources that frankly did not like Jefferson. They have repeated only what his political enemies of the past two centuries have said about him rather than seeking to find out if the charges they made against him were actually true.”
In The Jefferson Lies, Barton explores how modern writers could get Jefferson so wrong, unpacking the five fallacies of 21st century logic: deconstructionism, post-structuralism, modernism, minimalism and academic collectivism. Breaking these toxic -isms down, he dissects their role in tainting Thomas Jefferson’s reputation and provides tools for recognizing (and counteracting) their insidious influence today.
“As with every disputed issue, there was another side of the story—a side of the story that has not been told to this generation,” notes Barton. “There was a reason that Jefferson was venerated as a hero by American historians until this current generation of writers. Once I found out what Thomas Jefferson had actually done and said, and once I was able to document why and when the false portrayals began, I wanted to share what I found with others. I wanted others to see a true image of Jefferson—to see that much of what we have been taught about him today is not only dead wrong but is almost diametrically opposite of the actual truth.”
Barton’s keen observations illuminate Jefferson’s true heart, faith, character and rightful place as an American hero. Both painstakingly researched—with hundreds of end notes citing primary-source documents—and richly absorbing, The Jefferson Lies presents a rousing defense not only of its primary subject, but of the United States’ forsaken history and heritage itself.
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