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Thomas Jefferson—no American hero

Jefferson was a slave-holder who urged permanent revolution. He doesn’t deserve acclaim

By Ferdinand Mount   May 2018

“A mere draughtsman”: Thomas Jefferson (standing) works on the Declaration of Independence with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, by Jean Leon Gerome (1932) (Universal historical archive, Bridgeman images)

There are two stories about how Thomas Jefferson came to write the United States Declaration of Independence. The most famous is Jefferson’s own account: “The committee of five met; no such thing as a sub-committee was proposed, but they unanimously pressed on myself alone to undertake the draught.”

The other comes from John Adams, Jefferson’s grumpy, brilliant predecessor both as…

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