Left Fails to Extend War on History to Founders

Overwhelming majority of Americans stand opposed to any change to Washington, Jefferson monuments

by Margaret Menge | Updated 22 Aug 2017 at 6:34 AM

Americans overwhelmingly oppose removing the names of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson from public places like parks or taking down monuments to the two founders.

In a new Rasmussen poll, 88 percent of likely voters said they are against removing statues of Washington and Jefferson because they owned slaves, compared to 7 percent who favor their removal.

Ninety percent also oppose shutting down or changing Mount Rushmore because two of the four presidents it honors were slaveholders.

In the same poll, 94 percent of likely voters said they agree that it is better to try to learn from the wrongs of the past than to erase that past altogether. Just 4 percent were in favor of erasing wrongs of the past.

The poll suggests that no real support exists in the country for the removal or alteration of monuments to Washington or Jefferson, and that the founders enjoy a great deal of support among the vast majority of Americans, who want monuments honoring their lives and legacy to remain standing.

“As the central actor in the American Revolution, George Washington was one of the most important figures in world history,” wrote historian Paul Johnson in his 2009 book, “George Washington: The Founding Father.” “As America’s commander in chief throughout the eight-year struggle against Britain he effectively liberated the thirteen colonies from imperial rule. He then presided over the process whereby the new nation drafted, ratified, and enacted its federal Constitution. Finally, for eight years he directed the administration that put the Constitution to work, with such success that, suitably updated and amended, it has lasted for nearly a quarter of a millennium.”

Johnson went on to write that the revolution that Washington led “was the first of a series that created the modern world in which we live.”

Washington is consistently rated by Americans as the greatest American president, because of the crises he faced as leader of the colonial troops, and America’s first president.

A few extremists, have, however, called for monuments to Washington to be removed.

On Thursday, the left-wing website VICE posted an article initially entitled “Blow Up Mount Rushmore” in which the writer said he didn’t think any American president was worthy of being etched into the side of a mountain, saying every one of the four great Americans on Mount Rushmore — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, “has at least been partially complicit in horrific atrocities.”

A law professor at Cornell University also wrote a piece for Newsweek saying he doesn’t think there are any good reasons to keep monuments to Washington and Jefferson.

In Chicago, a black pastor named Bishop James Dukes, of the Liberation Christian Center, sent a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling for a statue of Washington to be removed from Washington Park on the city’s South Side and for the name of the park to be changed because Washington had owned slaves.

Jefferson is under similar attack.

A Huffington Post piece Monday begins with the sentence: “Sally Hemings, the black female slave who was raped and forced to bear children by third American president Thomas Jefferson, died in Charlottesville.”

But it’s unlikely Thomas Jefferson was the father of any of the children of Sally Hemings, his slave.

A DNA test done in 1998 showed that a Jefferson was likely the father of Sally Heming’s youngest child, Eston, and not any of her other children. But there were eight Jefferson men in the area at the time, including Thomas Jefferson, his brother Randolph, five of Randolph’s sons — who were all in their teens and 20s when Hemings was having children — and a cousin of Thomas Jefferson named George. There has been no evidence unearthed that has established that Jefferson and Heming had a sexual relationship, and biographer Joseph Ellis, after a long and careful study of Jefferson, declared that the possibility that there was any sexual or romantic relationship between the two was “remote.”

A great deal is known about Thomas Jefferson. He was the best educated of all the founders, classically educated, and the most graceful writer. He was a prodigious reader who studied languages and was also an amateur architect who designed Monticello, his Charlottesville estate. He was chosen by Washington to draft the Declaration of Independence, and it was his collection of books that became the Library of Congress. His name adorns that building on Capitol Hill, across from the U.S. Capitol, as well as the beautiful Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The faces of Washington, Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt were carved into the rock at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota between 1927 and 1941.

The site is visited by more than 2 million people every year and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966.

(photo credit, homepage image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr; photo credit, article image: Billy Hathorn)

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