"The Aristocracy Of Our Monied Corporations"

“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
Thomas Jefferson

Sorry, TJ, guess that one didn’t work out so well.


Edit Your Comment

  1. boandmichele says:

    that is eerily disappointing to read.

  2. BuriedCaesar says:

    Today’s corporation executives probably couldn’t understand all those words, especially when put in that order.

  3. Imafish says:

    Great quote. We’ve been a reverse-fascist country for as long as I’ve been alive.

  4. SpecialEd says:

    “The mischief springs from the power which the monied interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges which they have succeeded in obtaining…and unless you become more watchful in your states and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away….”
    – Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, 1837

  5. lightaugust says:

    There’s a reason his monument statue stares at the White House all day and all night. Someone knew what they were doing.

  6. MrEvil says:

    He’s probably spinning in his grave right now. Same for Andrew Jackson.

  7. Trai_Dep says:

    Amazing how the Strict Constructionalists, railing on about Activist Judges, misquoting the Founding Fathers on their supposed supplication to the Almighty White Father and assert the original Constitution must be seen as untouchable blithely skip the part of US history about the Founding Father’s alarm, suspicion and contempt of inherited aristocracies and their distrust of corporations.

  8. Trotsky says:

    Sad, sad, sad is my first thought. We are witnessing a destruction of our democracy and way of life for some corporate shitbag’s bottom line. It makes me sick.

    Zombie Jefferson, come save us!

  9. NoWin says:

    @lightaugust: a Big +1 to you for the day.

  10. SloppyChris says:

    It’s a good thing corporations employ people!

  11. wickedpixel says:

    and a Happy Patriot’s Day to you as well. :)

  12. axiomatic says:

    Man our founding fathers would weep at what we have let America become. I blame upper management.

  13. csdiego says:

    @Trai_Dep: Thank you.

  14. @axiomatic: Have you been watching “John Adams” on HBO? I really illustrates how absolutely wrong we’ve interpreted the Founding Father’s intentions for this nation, and how slickly twisted our history has become.

  15. thefezman says:


    “He’s probably spinning in his grave right now. Same for Andrew Jackson.”

    Assuming they are spinning at a sufficient RPM, we may have found a great source of alternative energy!

  16. pal003 says:

    Is there anything in or lives Corporations don’t control or make decisions about?
    War good/profitable – check
    Gas prices – check
    Health care/medications – check
    Food prices/availability – check
    Job market limited – check
    Must purchase goods from China – check

    Hmmmm – I don’t think this is what the founding fathers has in mind.

  17. Paul D says:

    @thefezman: I believe that may even count as perpetual motion, since they started spinning long ago and haven’t lost any speed…

  18. modenastradale says:

    @Trai_Dep: Well, that criticism’s a little misplaced. I think most “strict constructionists” these days are actually “textualists.” The most famous self-described textualist is, of course, Antonin Scalia.

    In essence, proponents of textualism believe that the *text* of a statute or the Constitution are definitive as to the scope and effect of the law. What this means is, generally, they aren’t concerned about what the drafters of the law actually intended — they’re just interested in what the law itself says. Therefore, it isn’t inconsistent for them to disregard these kinds of statements — after all, it’s just a quote from some dead guy. It never made it into the law itself.

    I’m liberal, but sympathetic to textualism because I think it represents a desire to preserve the democracy and accountability of the government. We often hear about “activist judges” in connection with social reforms — gay rights, regulatory powers, etc. However, most people don’t realize that permitting the judiciary to indulge in lawmaking means that ANY political position that appeals to 5 Supreme Court justices can become law. Therefore, under the guise of finding the “meaning” and “spirit” of the law, many courts have actually transgressed the boundaries of the text in favor of corporations!!

  19. DrGirlfriend says:

    Speaing of John Adams, another one that resonates with me in the same way as the Jefferson quote: “Well, posterity, you will never know what it cost us to preserve your freedom. I only hope that you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

    Depressing to say that those with the most unfettered freedoms are those who head large corporations.

  20. Mr. Gunn says:

    Sounds like he’s placing responsibility on the state governments checking the power of the federal government…good luck with that one

  21. drjayphd says:

    @MrEvil: Don’t forget Eisenhower.

  22. Bladefist says:

    @pal003: Provide Jobs – Check
    Make Best Country to live in – Check
    Create Innovation – Check
    Rose us above socialist Europe – Check

  23. Tripamsta says:

    @Bladefist: Have you ever been to socialist Europe? I have 3 friends who just moved to Sweden to escape this monopolistic, unhealthy way of life. I’ve never been, but I hear it’s a much nicer place. Just because pea-brained, money-grubbing republicans cannot fathom any form of non-selfish living does not mean that this is the best place on earth. That’s what we call arrogance.

  24. modenastradale says:

    Yeah, the “best country to live in” thing is subjective and pretty dubious, IMO. I would immigrate to western Europe tomorrow if I could; unfortunately, that’s very difficult for us to do.

  25. Bladefist says:

    @Tripamsta: I can tell by your response you’re an intellectual.

  26. Bladefist says:

    @modenastradale: Why? I would rather live in Australia or South Korea. I’ll admit I have limited knowledge of each, but I hear they are far less polar opposites on politics. That gets more done, and south korea has extremely low taxes, yet manages to have universal healthcare. They seem to make both “sides” happy.

  27. BigElectricCat says:

    Corporations? Let’s starve them until they’re small enough to be drowned in the bathtub.


    All four of your ‘standards’ are highly subjective, largely unquantifiable and generally impossible to prove.

    Got anything other than opinion to support them?

  28. Snarkysnake says:


    The only thing stopping YOU from going to Sweden is fear and atmosphere.

    Too much whining here.
    You don’t HAVE to be in hock to the “monied interests” that Jefferson and the rest of the FF were rightfully afraid of. But yet…

    We WANT cable TV with 150 mostly useless channels -Even though the company that provides it is an arrogant monopoly.

    We WANT cellular service that can reach us any time ,any where for a low price- Even though the company’s business practices border on abusive.

    We DEMAND more and more gasoline as motor fuel for our big,impractical lifestyle appliances and then we cry foul when the enormous companies that make the stuff raise the price to reflect our insatiable desire for more.

    I could go on. But the weird beards (like Tripamsta) have already tuned me out and would love to continue wallowing in their America loathing.If they would get the fucking nose ring out and pry their lazy ass away from that boob tube for a few minutes and take advantage of the opportunities that exist here,they wouldn’t be complaining,they would get to work renewing and refreshing this great country and all it stands for.And yes, that means throwing the Republicrats out and putting the fear of God in their elected leaders that they will be next.

    Simplify. Consume less. Use intelligence and self sacrifice as your weapons against the giant corporations that have their hooks in your life.Damn , this isn’t hard.

  29. Bladefist says:

    @Snarkysnake: Will you marry me?

  30. modenastradale says:

    Because I like it there. Many western European cities are beatiful, charming, historic — and modern and progressive at the same time. I’ve observed that people tend to be more open-minded, less insular, and just generally more in sync with my values than Americans are.

    Also, Europeans have long adopted the “work to live” philosophy, and it shows. Yes, there’s less material consumption, and yes, there can be odd and frustrating shortages in the infrastructure at times, but overall I believe most Europeans lead happier, more fulfilling lives than most Americans do. Finally, I really enjoy food; between Europe and the states, there’s simply no comparison in terms of quality or value. :-)

  31. spinachdip says:

    @Bladefist: Provide jobs – jobs and middle class income have been on the decline, income inequality has been growing since the 80s and the Europe has been steadily closing the gap. You’re right-ish, but the current trend says maybe not for long.

    Make best country to live in – I don’t know, we’re overpaying for inferior healthcare, our currency’s getting weaker and public transportation is generally shit. I like it here, but I’m well aware that I’m sacrificing my standard of living by staying close to my friends and family.

    Create innovation – By what standard? There’s no question that Americans do value innovation, but I don’t see any evidence to show that Americans are any more innovative than, say, the Swedish, who created flat packing and revolutionized the furniture industry.

    Rose us above socialist Europe – Socialist Europe is alive and well. Have you looked at Scandinavia recently? Their socialist meatballs are fantastic!

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    @modenastradale: yeah, strict constructionists are textualists are whatever neologism the right comes up with. They have to shift the names every few years because the truth catches up with the lies/inconsistencies they spoke that morning.
    Same thing with Creationism and Intelligent Design. Same thing, new drag.

    Here’s a test: compare a reasonable policy and see if the “new” school of thought behaves the same way.

    Say, the government wants security cameras in your house at all times, for your security, and so The Terrorists Won’t Win.

    Since the BoR or Constitution doesn’t specifically mention internet-based web-cams feeding to server farms administrated by political donors to the GOP, it’s okay.

    A more realistic reading of the BoR and Constitution would be, if the Fathers had conniptions over the idea of British soldiers being housed unwillingly by colonialists, they’d shat purple cows at having King George be able to watch us from his throne any time he choses.

    Or, for that matter, having the President chosen by a Supreme Court, rather than counting the vote, even if it took two week longer than some would like.

    Of course, these same arguments are never used to advance progressive ideals. They’re only a tool of the Right.

    Textualists and Strict Constructionalists are the same thing, really. A coin flipping from one hand to the other. The same as Creationists, only instead of trying to destroy our public schools, they’re trying to destroy our country. But not before they get theirs first, ‘natch.

  33. Bladefist says:

    @spinachdip: Well our country pretty much runs off the market. When times are good, times are GOOD. When times are bad (now) they are, eh, not so bad. Our bad times is still on par with Europe’s good times.

    The innovation means, between technology, medicine, engineering, etc, we are generally above average in progression. You know, South Korea has the best cell phones, but we do well. Germany has the master engineers, but we do okay. I’m saying, what we have works. And like all markets, we’ll come back. And when we come back, the overall attitude of America will be back to the white picket fences. Unfortunately, Americans are fair weather fans. When the markets are having issues, a lot of people become anti-patriotic. And that only makes it worse.

  34. modenastradale says:

    @Trai_Dep: By the way, the security cameras example shows a misunderstanding of what the Constitution actually says. The Constitution actually says that the federal government is to have limited, enumerated powers. So, if anything, a textualist reading of the Constitution would tend to bias *against* allowing security cameras to be posted in one’s home.

  35. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    There is a lot of evidence that Jefferson’s detestation of cities, the north, abolition, etc. was not out of a high ideal for the future of the country, but rather a wholly self-serving desire to maintain his way of life. If you are looking to Jefferson as a champion of the working man, of the common consumer, you are colossally uninformed.

  36. mac-phisto says:

    “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

    – Dick Cheney

    oh come on, things haven’t changed that much!

  37. BlackFlag55 says:

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people (e.g., by pitting the cooperation-oriented political left against the competition-oriented political right), until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of the war.”
    – Abraham Lincoln

  38. BlackFlag55 says:

    “Corporate entities are persons, under the law. They are separate persons from the very real human persons who own them and run them. We have the Supreme Court of the United States to thank for this perversion. Through corruption of our government and courts, corporations subverted their original intended purpose and acquired the legal status of “natural persons” while also preserving their limited-liability legal protections (which gives them more legal powers than citizens have). This subversion was institutionalized in an 1886 Supreme Court decision of which Justice William O. Douglas would later write, “There was no history, logic, or reason given to support that view.” Thus corporations gained Bill of Rights protections and more, even before women and minorities had full protection.”
    – [Anonymous]

  39. BlackFlag55 says:

    “Unless you become more watchful in your states and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges, you will in the end find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away, and the control of your dearest interests have been passed into the hands of these corporations.”
    – Andrew Jackson

  40. BlackFlag55 says:

    “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, (i.e., the “business cycle”) the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
    – Thomas Jefferson

  41. BlackFlag55 says:

    “Examining the organization and function of the Federal Reserve Banks and applying the relevant factors, we conclude that the Federal Reserve Banks are not Federal instrumentalities…but are independent and privately owned and controlled corporations…Federal Reserve Banks are listed neither as ‘wholly owned’ government corporations [under 31 U.S.C. Section 846] nor as ‘mixed ownership’ corporations [under 31 U.S.C. Section 856]…It is evident from the legislative history of the Federal Reserve Act that Congress did not intend to give the Federal government direction over the daily operation of the Reserve Banks…The fact that the Federal Reserve Board regulates the Reserve Banks does not make them Federal agencies under the Act…Unlike typical Federal agencies, each bank is empowered to hire and fire employees at will. Bank employees do not participate in the Civil Service Retirement System. They are covered by worker’s compensation insurance, purchased by the Bank, rather than the Federal Employees Compensation Act. Employees traveling on Bank business are not subject to Federal travel regulations and do not receive government employee discounts on lodging and services…”
    – Lewis vs. U.S., case #80-5905, 9th Circuit, June 24, 1982

  42. econobiker says:

    Teddy Roosevelt where are you???

  43. Trai_Dep says:

    @modenastradale: So a textualist, of which Scalia is a leading proponent, feels that the Federal gov’t has limited, enumerated powers?
    Such as, if there’s a Presidential election and an accurate vote of the state takes two weeks (keeping in mind that, during the Founder’s time, months would pass before the outcome was known) to do a recount, the Supreme Court gets to flip a coin and call the election? Those limited, enumerated powers?! Y-e-a-h, I remember Scalia arguing strenuously the Textualist line during Bush vs Gore. What a principled jurist – indeed, the heir to Jefferson.

    Guffaw. No, really – guffaw.

    Again, there’s a new term every few years to move the ball under a different cup once the illogic has been inevitably exposed. Creationism moves to ID which will move to something else. Same as this. It’s always selective. It’s always done with an argument that they know, if presented simply and without artifice, they’d lose.
    It’s an arrow the Right uses to befuddle the masses (including their own). To deceive and hoodwink. Just because they play it doesn’t mean we’re stupid enough to fall for it.

  44. mariospants says:

    TJ said the same thing about religion and look where we are today with that, too.

  45. Mykro says:

    Aristocrunk, anyone?

  46. modenastradale says:


    Hey, sorry. I actually wrote an insanely long post to address your earlier points, and to clarify my position. Naturally, it never posted to the site.

    I’ll try to keep this brief:

    My point was not that today’s textualists are better than today’s nontextualists. There are two ideas we’re mixing up here: (1) the validity of an approach to statutory/constitutional interpretation, and (2) the actual intellectual integrity of its users.

    Make no mistake, I believe that virtually no Supreme Court justice (liberal or conservative) appointed after FDR has much intellectual integrity. The justices are keenly aware of their politicized roles, and are too eager to indulge in twisted “analysis” to support whatever conclusion serves their own policy preferences. This, of course, they deny. More on that in a sec.

    As for textualism itself, as a philosophy, I do think it’s desirable. The reason for this is that textualism offers the potential for greater stability and predictability in the law, and it also helps to keep policymaking away from the unelected branch of government.

    The basic tenet of textualism is that the text of a statute is the supreme authority on the statute’s effect. A true textualist would not concern himself with what Congress “intended” (how can a body of 535 people even have a unified “intent”?), but rather, would be concerned with figuring out what the statute meant, as a piece of language, when it was enacted. Therefore, a true textualist’s tools would be dictionaries, etymologies, and other linguistic resources.

    Now, before you say that no statute can comprehensively specify all circumstances, let me just say I agree with you 100%. The thing is, statutes and the Constitution do provide pretty clear guidance in themselves, most of the time, and quite often even the most basic guidance has been transgressed by courts seeking to improve upon what they themselves could not have enacted.

    The problem, of course, is that 9 justices with life tenure are woefully inappropriate people to be making pronouncements about what policies are good for the country. Unintended consequences abound.

    I was saying earlier that allegedly “progressive” methods of judicial review can actually work *against* progressive policies. See for example the post above re: the Supreme Court’s assertion that a corporation is a “person.” Where the hell did that come from?

    Or look at Proposition 215 in California, which legalized medicinal marijuana consumption. Legal in California, but still violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. Should Congress be able to tell California that it can’t permit its ill citizens to grow pot in their homes? I believe a plain reading of the Constitution says “no.” Congress does not have a general police power, and there is no enumerated power that covers the prohibition of personal marijuana consumption. Nevertheless, thanks to FDR-era “progress” such as the Wickard aggregation principle, the Supreme Court now claims that an individual growing a single plant in his home is engaging in “interstate commerce.” That proposition is absurd! We’re stuck with these transgressions of federal/state/individual autonomy because the Supreme Court, in its questionable wisdom, once decided that the Interstate Commerce Clause should encompass more than, uh, interstate commerce.

    Again, let me reiterate that most justices have no honesty. Antonin Scalia is perhaps the prime example of a wickedly dishonest jurist. He knows well where his espoused judicial philosophy should lead him on the medical marijuana question. But how did he vote? In favor of the Bush Administration — on Commerce Clause grounds! Imagine that!

  47. modenastradale says:

    @Trai_Dep: There’s also one other thing I want to say.

    I recognize that we owe a LOT of our social progress, especially civil rights, to court justices who were willing to transgress the clear text of statutes and the Constitution. Therefore, it’s a sensitive issue to say that critical holdings such as Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, Roemer v. Evans, etc. are defectively flawed. But they are. These decisions are not rooted in the Constitution; they are rooted in a vision of social change which undemocratic bodies imposed upon the country.

    The problem with that kind of change is that it’s very, very divisive because it has no authenticity in the democratic process. Roe v. Wade is the easiest example. Those who believe in abortion rights think Roe was a good decision because of its result. But from opponents’ point of view, Roe is a case where 9 unelected justices told the country: “We don’t think unborn infants are people, and we won’t let the states democratically choose whether to allow them to be killed.” Well, honestly, that’s exactly what happened. The Court didn’t rely on the Constitution at all; rather, that 1973 court started talking about trimesters, reviewing testimony about the development of fetuses, and arriving at conclusions about the stages of viability — as if it were a legislature hashing over the pros and cons of proposed legislation!

    In truth, had the clear mandate of the Constitution been followed, abortion would no longer be the hot-button issue that it is today. States where citizens believe that abortion is OK would have allowed it; states where citizens believe abortion is wrong would have disallowed it. It would have been just another policy choice made on a local level.

    I’m very sympathetic to the need for social changes. In my lifetime, I hope to see same-sex couples having the universal right to marry. I hope to see transgender people having the right to determine their own lives and identities, without discrimination. I hope to see more equal access to opportunities for all people.

    Nevertheless, I hope I see those things result from *legislation*, not court rulings. I want these changes to come from the people, not to be imposed upon the people. That’s what democracy is all about.

  48. Trai_Dep says:

    True, and in the abstract, makes some sense. Although I’d argue that unless we want a Constitution/BoR that’s 3,000 pages long, we need some philosophical tool to extend the intent of legislators’ actions from 200 years ago to today. Privacy rights coming from a penumbra of amendments (quartering, the Fifth & search and seizure) is a prime example. The intent is clear, and simply because bewigged legislators didn’t foresee telephones seems counter to what is still a revolutionary document.

    Yet, in the real world, doctrines like Strict Constructionism, Textualism, etc., are used as a cudgel for pet causes by the Right wing, only to be put away when it comes to advancing the rights of common people. At best, they’re an ivory tower topic, at worse an opportunistic tool to rationalize policies which, when presented without the bells and whistles, would lose the argument.

    If they’re not used by their backers to support and deny the policy objectives they favor (they’re not), they’re exposed for what they are: propaganda tools and rationalizations.

    I see your points, though. An interesting conversation.

  49. BigElectricCat says:


    Then do the right thing and present some supporting evidence, rather than call others “colossally misinformed.”

  50. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @BigElectricCat: He was a slave-holding plantation owner, for one, who defended that way of life against an industrializing North that brought greater prosperity to the masses instead of employing them on a farm. The quote in the post was really designed to defend the monied Southern aristocrat and not the common man. There are a bunch of books I can recommend, though any focusing on the differences between Jefferson and Hamilton is a great place to start. Chernow’s Hamilton biography is absolutely amazing. “What Kind of Nation” is also quality work highlighting Jefferson’s outlook.
    Jefferson clearly had a way with words, I can’t deny that. But when one looks deeper to his actions, selecting quotes like the above and applying modern experience to interpret them is not genuine.
    I didn’t really mean to insult people (though I know it sounded like that), I just wished to highlight some subtleties that perhaps have been lost to history. Of course, highlight subtleties six screens down on a blog post is probably an uninformed venture itself! :-)

  51. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @BlackFlag55: TJ had an insatiable appetite for the finest things in life and ended up spending more than he made, ending his life more or less broke, owing a ton of money to the banks. Don’t know if that invalidates his quote, but it does add some color. He had reason to be bitter toward banks.

    I don’t pretend to know everything about the man, and neither can I ever. I have, however, done a bit of reading on the time and the men of the Revolution, and find it utterly fascinating. The most amazing part about it is that it set in motion a nation that would turn itself into a beacon of liberty, which if often threatened (even today), endures. For that we should be eternally grateful, though to be thankful for something does not mean one need ignore all mistakes and imperfections.

  52. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @BlackFlag55: TJ had good reason to not like banks. He died deeply indebted due to his borrowings to fund his lifestyle (sound familiar to today’s subprime “meltdown”?). Doesn’t necessarily mean he was wrong to think what is portrayed in the quote, though it does provide some background.

  53. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Hey look at that! A double post! Oops. :-)

  54. BigElectricCat says:


    Surely you recognize the value of posting actual *links.*

    With all due respect, supporting evidence generally consists of more than an unlinked reply.

  55. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @BigElectricCat: With all due respect, I can’t link to books that are on my bookshelf. As for the TJ passing away deeply indebted, it’s on wikipedia’s page. [en.wikipedia.org]

  56. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Oh, and I didn’t mean to say “with all due respect” as a taunt (I see you used it as well). It was the first thing that came to mind. I honestly can’t be bothered to go look up quotes in the library, as I’m sure you understand.

  57. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Don’t know if any of my previous attempts went through, so I’ll recap. I’m sorry but I can’t link to the books on my bookshelf. You can find the snippet about dying in debt on wikipedia (first response on Google when you search for Thomas Jefferson).

    What I can do, though, is encourage you to pick up a few books on the period (referenced in a previous comment). It’s a fascinating time in our history and remains forever relevant to current events. And you can learn more than any web page could ever contain.

  58. BigElectricCat says:


    “I can’t link to books that are on my bookshelf.”

    But in such a case you could certainly have provided author, title, publisher and publication date, and possibly even the ISBN. For those books that are still in print, you might even have been able to provide an Amazon link. Citations like “Chernow’s Hamilton biography” and “What Kind of Nation” (with no other identifying information) don’t add much to an online discussion with people who are not familiar with those works. Perhaps they would be pertinent in a discussion amongst historians with an interest in the period, but that’s not quite where you find yourself here.

    “I honestly can’t be bothered to go look up quotes in the library, as I’m sure you understand.”

    Certainly. But I hope you don’t expect that I’d accept your statements as factual with no way to confirm or refute them myself. I don’t automatically repose trust in random people I meet on the Internet, and I don’t imagine that you do, either.

    “What I can do, though, is encourage you to pick up a few books on the period.”

    I don’t know if you *intended* this to be condescending, but I most certainly take it to be so. Let’s revisit where we are in our discussion.

    You called another poster “colossally misinformed” (unwarrantedly so, I contend), and when politely asked to substantiate your rather rude accusation, you begged off by claiming that you:

    a) can’t link to books on your bookshelf (though you could certainly *identify* them)

    b) “can’t be bothered” to provide supporting evidence for your claims (though that doesn’t seem to inhibit you from passing judgment on the claims of others)

    I have a pretty extensive reading list right now, and while your preferred Jefferson selections no doubt deserve to be on it, I’m not inclined to add any of them given the ‘pick up a book and learn somthing’ vibe I’m getting from your posts. Furthermore, I find it very hard to reconcile your “colossally misinformed” jab with this post of yours:


    In that post, you appear to be advocating politeness, but “colossally misinformed” doesn’t live in that neighborhood, AFAICS.

    I may have you wrongly pegged — I’ve certainly misjudged others before — but it seems to me that you’re rude, condescending and perhaps just a bit arrogant.

    I don’t know what your issue is, but as near as I can tell, it involves dissing others’ knowledge of the life and times of Thomas Jefferson and then playing the “can’t be bothered” and ‘read a book’ cards when you’re called on it.

    I don’t believe I need to have any further discussion with you on this topic. Have a nice day.

  59. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    If I Google the phrases you quoted, I go right to the items: ([www.google.com] [www.google.com]). I’m sorry if I didn’t include enough information.

    All I’m trying to do is to get people to look beyond soundbites, snippets and quotes, to read more fullsome stories and really learn something. It sounds like you agree with this, and so I don’t see what the problem is. Anyway, here’s my point (in soundbite fashion!): A quote is just that and can be interpreted to mean anything. When you get more detail, you know more of the story and can appreciate both the correct and incorrect applications of the quote.

    As for the other post, calling someone a dumbass is different than saying some more information is needed. Seems like a clear line to me.

    I think you do have me wrongly pegged, and I’m sure I’ve done more than my bit to cause that, so I apologize. I don’t apologize for my sentiment however: links on the internet and selective quotes from history’s greatest figures do not make a compelling case for anything.

  60. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @BigElectricCat: “What I can do, though, is encourage you to pick up a few books on the period.”
    I don’t know if you *intended* this to be condescending,”

    I didn’t mean this to be condescending.

    As you can imagine, it’s tough to politely phrase “there are additional books that you may not have read that may help you learn more” as it inherently sounds like I know more than everyone else (hah! right). What I did want to convey is that I know more than than just what can be gleaned by reading the quote in the post. Unfortunately I just kind of went with what came first to my mind.

    I guess you could tie it back to my view that the internet is not yet a valid academic medium (at least as far as blog post comments go) as it forces a density of sentiment and a paucity of nuance that destroys too much.

  61. BigElectricCat says:


    (eyes roll)

    When in a hole, stop digging.

    Your post is non-responsive on most of the points I raised, and to me, it smacks more of self-justification and personal horn-blowing than it does of anything else. If you have evidence, you post it — including specific identifying information for the books you so rudely suggest that others read. I don’t particularly *care* if a Google search turns up what you think I should read, as it isn’t *my* responsibility to find *your* sources for you. I don’t know if you’ve ever had any academic research published, but generally speaking, one presents one’s sources *with* the work so that reviewers, readers and other interested parties can look more deeply into your sources — which is exactly what you claim you want others to do.

    All that’s water under the bridge now, though, as you dont’ seem to get that point. No matter. As I said, I don’t believe I need to have any further discussion with you on this topic. Have a nice day.

  62. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Just trying to broaden people’s experiences without digging through books. I’m sorry if you think I’m trying to be a jerk. I thought I was helping.

    As I mentioned, blog post comments are not an academic medium. :-)

  63. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    I think we’ve all spent too much time on this, but here, from the wonderful (if potentially misleading) Wikipedia.org are a few selections that highlight that Jefferson held slaves because he was indebted to his banks, and would not free them because of that debt. Clearly the man had every reason to hate banks and not to take an impartial look at it. Beyond that, he continued committing unforgivable sins rather than face his debts. Not the type of situation that lends itself to impartial analysis, regardless of how high the oratory flies.

    “Jefferson owned many slaves over his lifetime. Some find it baffling that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves yet was outspoken in saying that slavery was immoral and it should be abolished. Biographers point out that Jefferson was deeply in debt and had encumbered his slaves by notes and mortgages; he chose not to free them until he finally was debt-free, which he never was.”

    “The downturn in land prices after 1819 pushed Jefferson further into debt. Jefferson finally emancipated his five most trusted slaves; the others were sold after his death to pay his debts.”


    He also more or less was forced into selling his library to Congress (the now Library of Congress) to cover his debts (see page 618 of David McCullough’s “John Adams” ISBN-13: 978-0684813639 which was good even before the TV series)

    Hehehe, look at that. It appears the image of the Jefferson Memorial appeared next to this comment. I have no idea how.

    In a way, Jefferson was very similar to Washington in that he had a desire to consume and use debt to fund that consumption (European wines, for instance). Both held slaves and both felt bad about it. Washington, I think, was able to put the needs of the country before his own (witness coming out of retirement many times) more easily than Jefferson was. Washington, in addition, freed his slaves in his will, something Jefferson did not do. Addressing the precise issue brought up here, if someone relied on Washington to pass judgement on the economic value of banks, I’m not sure I’d listen to him either. Whenever someone overspends themselves into poverty, it’s tough to blame the people who lent them the money, which I think this quote is attempting to do.

    As great a man as Jefferson may have been, he did the equivalent of mortgage his house to throw parties, and then complained when the bill came due.

  64. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    By the way, all this reminds me of this comic. [xkcd.com]

    We need to lighten up. :-)

  65. BigElectricCat says:

    Have a nice day.