Symmetry wrote: PLAYER57832 wrote:
Symmetry wrote:I don't see how a 14 year old can freely consent, especially not to a 46 year old man. I don't see how a slave could freely consent. A 14 year old slave?
I have very little respect for the "as long as it's not against the law, it's acceptable" line of thinking.
That is not the question, but to judge the past by our times using terms that were not considered the same back then is wrong.
Would it be acceptable today, 50 years ago? Absolutely not! A hundred years ago? More debatable.
But go back to Jefferson and the real issue is how she was treated versus how other women of the day were treated, and the answer to that is not badly, by comparison.
To claim that you have the right to judge Jefferson is to claim that, given HIS circumstances, you would have acted differently. AND, to say that acting differently would have created a better result. In this case, the idea of taking a 14 year old black girl and treating her as a girl today would be.... was just not thinkable. To pretend that you would do differently means you think you can live then as we do today. No one has that luxury.
It is good to examine the past, to celebrate our advances. However to go back and claim that anyone who did anything good must be ignored if they did not live fully by our standards today is hypocritical at best, at worst plain ignorant (lacking knowledge) becuase you are claiming you would act differently and, in truth you almost certainly would not have, could not have.
I have never claimed he should be ignored. If anything, this thread shows that I want more attention paid.
A counter claim, of course, would be that you seem to be ignoring Sally Hemings, and of course the children who Jefferson enslaved.
No, that is a pretended “high ground”. In truth, its nothing but a load of hypocritical claptrap, that would only be real if todays situation and that then were the same. The fact is that Sally did consider hereself fortunate.
You want to pretend an idealized world in which Jefferson either would have treated Sally just like a wife is treated today OR would have taken some kind of “stand” that would have been evident by his not having Sally in his household.. or even employ.
None of those were real options with the outcome you pretend.
Say Jefferson were to treat Sally just like a white wife.
-- well, he actually treated her better than many married white women in his class. Consent? Legally, consent to marriage was not necessarily given by the woman, it was given by the father, who may or may not have truly asked his daughter. And, given the naïveté of many women at the time, do you seriously think most married women truly “consented” to sexual relations? If you do, you are ignorant of history. It was plain expected that women would do as their husbands demanded.. whether they wanted to or not!
Materially, otherwise… if you consider her life, it was, for the time, a pretty decent life for a woman. For a black woman of the time, it was simply amazing. The only thing she really lacked was marriage.. but in return for that lack, she got something actually better. She got true affection and decent treatment.
Say Jefferson were to have freed Sally and either married her or just “kept” her as a mistress.
Your envisioned result would be that Sally and Jefferson might live together, happily but in open… proving some kind of “point” perhaps. The truth? The truth is that Jefferson was considered slightly “odd”, not quite up to “standards” by treating this woman as well as he did. Such was tolerated, as long as not openly paraded. Had he done ANYTHING to make it more “legal” or per your standards, then he would have been ostracized. He never could have served in the positions he did, could not have made the mark on our country that he did. It would not have been easy for her, either. Sally would have been derided, instead of just ignored – or worse. She could easily have been considered some kind of “devil” who used “trickery” to “win his affections”.
Had he just ignored her, not done anything? Then what… another master, who was unlikely to treat her with anything close to the benefits she got from being Jefferson’s mistress.
All in all, your attempt to parade this as some kind of real “issue” is just an attempt to make a claim that you have the right to judge someone who’s circumstances are very, very different from your own.. without bothering to even truly consider those circumstances.
You gain no points by trying to paint ills of the past with a brush from today. Instead, you would be far better to look at the ills of today .. and make sure that future generations won’t judge you the way you claim you have the right to judge Jefferson. In fact, I can point to several issues upon which you likely will face condemnation by future generations. I suggest that is a better path for thinking.