Friday, January 14, 2011

Early American Sarcasm

from Dec 18, 2010 Richmond Times-Dispatch:
I question the praise often given by champions of Thomas Jefferson in recent "Letters to the Editor" who are inspired by his writings for religious freedom. Jefferson certainly was a prolific writer within the scope of religious freedom; however, his perpetual hatred of Patrick Henry diminishes his credibility as a Founding Father Americans can be proud of.
In her book, “Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History,” Fawn M. Brodie notes that Jefferson wrote about Henry in code to James Madison in 1784: “What we have to do I think is devoutly to pray for his death.”
The devious and mouse-like Jefferson lacked the courage to speak or write openly about Patrick Henry and instead chose to secretly confide his religious prayer with his diminutive associate Madison. Apparently Jefferson’s hatred was partially based upon his strange jealousy of Henry for inventing the religious freedom clause establishing Christian law (Virginia Bill of Rights 1776, section 16). Jefferson's subsequent bill for religious freedom (Dec. 1785) not only plagiarized Henry’s original concept but it was denounced as a “diabolical scheme” according to Norine Dickson Campbell in “Patrick Henry: Patriot and Statesman.”
P. L. Little.