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Fake news, on steroids!

Accounts five & thirty years, since the Date of this Transaction, spent in the regular Discharge of public, & private Duties, with an Uniformity of Tenor which I am not afraid to rest on the Verdict of those who have been known me—
They will judge of me by my whole Life, & not by a single false Step taken at the Commencement of it
To you I have said these Things, because I have known you from our early youth, & wish to stand approved by you—
Thomas Jefferson to William Fitzhugh, Jr. July 1, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders reassure friends who might have reason to doubt.
Fitzhugh (1741-1809) was a Virginia plantation owner, statesman, and life-long friend of Jefferson’s, who was responding to newspaper accounts alleging multiple accounts of his immoral behavior. Specifically, Jefferson addressed a charge regarding his improper conduct toward a neighbor’s wife in 1768 or ’69. He acknowledged the truth of that charge, then laid out his defense:
1. For 35 years, he had conducted his public and private life with a “Uniformity of Tenor.”
2. He did not fear the verdict of those who knew him well.
3. They would judge him by the whole of his life, not by a single youthful indiscretion.
4. You (Fitzhugh) are one of those who’ve known me since my youth, and I care what you think about me.

Another letter written the same day was the subject of a 2016 post. It dealt with this subject but in a more detailed manner. In essence, by admitting to the Walker indiscretion, Jefferson denied the allegations regarding Sally Hemings.

 “The city officials were captivated …
and would have posed questions for another hour if time had been available.”
Executive Director, Missouri Municipal League
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak.
Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
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2 Responses to Fake news, on steroids!

  1. There are many, many politicians (and others) who should study Jefferson’s response to indiscretions as a youth. Admit to one sin, and deny all others.
    Now, when you are ~50 and married, then it’s a little tougher to justify.

    • Thomas Jefferson Leadership says:

      Jefferson didn’t deny the others, just didn’t respond to them. He admitted to one indiscretion, because he was guilty. He was confident in the judgment of the people who knew him best regarding all the other accusations.
      President Washington’s advice was not to respond to any accusations, political or personal. In the time it took to answer one charge, a dozen more would spring up. Best to ignore them all. For the most part, he followed Washington’s advice.

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