Tag Archives: Fake news
During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the Press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever it’s licentiousness [without moral or legal restraint] could devise or dare. these abuses of an institution [a stable and productive government], so important to freedom and science, are deeply to be regretted … they tend to lessen it’s usefulness and to sap it’s safety. they might perhaps have been corrected by the wholsome punishments [of] … the laws of the several states against falsehood & defamation. but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation.
Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know there will always be serious detractors!
Thomas Jefferson’s naturally thin skin was rubbed raw by the unceasing attacks of his political opponents in the Federalist press. He thought their baseless charges were disrupting and degrading, an attempt to undermine the people’s government.
There was no pretense of an “objective press” in Jefferson’s time. To be fair, there was a Republican press sympathetic to the President that could be equally savage toward its opponents.
The First Amendment protected the press from any federal action, but there were state laws against libel. Those might have been used to correct an abusive press, but public servants had more important things to do than to pursue them. “Public indignation” would be the newspapers’ only punishment.
“Thank you for all your hard work …
You have provided a real service for the educators of Missouri.”
Co-Chair, Teaching and Learning Conference
MO Department of Elementary & Secondary Education
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak and provide a real service to your audience.
to the corruptions of Christianity, I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence, & believing he never claimed any other. .. I am moreover averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance [support] the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect itself into that Inquisition over the rights of conscience, which the laws have so justly proscribed.
To Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
All leaders pick and choose what they will believe.
In writing to his old friend and confidante, Jefferson expressed views very similar to those in his letter to Edward Dowse, the source of the preceding four posts. He expressed his devotion to Jesus, asserted his own Christianity, and warned his friend to keep the matter between the two of them and explained why.
As “to the corruptions of Christianity,” these would be everything in the four gospels that Jefferson thought shouldn’t be there (the unprovable, the miraculous and anything divine), ‘fake news’ in 2018 parlance. His version of Christianity was devotion to Jesus the man, only, and his teachings.
Jefferson did not want to share his “religious tenets” with the public. To do so would support the position of those who thought they had a right to know those beliefs. The Constitution and laws were properly limited to people’s actions only, not their thoughts. No individual or public forum had the right to inquire into what the Constitution decreed as private.
If you care to wade through it, Jefferson enclosed this document with his letter, “Doctrines of Jesus Compared with Others.”