A descendant of Thomas Jefferson is calling for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., to be removed.
In an op-ed published by The New York Times, Lucian K. Truscott IV, a journalist and a descendant of the third U.S. president, described playing with his brother and family as a child at Monticello, Jefferson’s Virginia home. Many of his family members are buried on the grounds of Monticello.
Truscott wrote that “as a memorial to Jefferson himself, [Monticello is] almost perfect. And that is why his memorial in Washington should be taken down and replaced. Described by the National Park Service as ‘a shrine to freedom,’ it is anything but.”
“The memorial is a shrine to a man who during his lifetime owned more than 600 slaves and had at least six children with one of them, Sally Hemings. It’s a shrine to a man who famously wrote that ‘all men are created equal’ in the Declaration of Independence that founded this nation — and yet never did much to make those words come true,” he wrote.
“Upon his death, he did not free the people he enslaved, other than those in the Hemings family, some of whom were his own children. He sold everyone else to pay off his debts,” he added.
Truscott also wrote that visitors will not learn the history of Jefferson’s ownership of enslaved people at the memorial in Washington. However, he noted that Monticello features “an exhibit of Sally Hemings’s bedroom in her cavelike living quarters,” among other information about the people enslaved there.
“A tour of Monticello these days will tell you that it was designed by Jefferson and built by the people he enslaved; it will point out joinery and furniture built by Sally’s brother, John Hemings. Today, there are displays of rebuilt cabins and barns where those enslaved lived and worked,” he wrote.
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SOURCE: The Hill, Marina Pitofsky