WAS JEFFERSON INVOLVED IN THE DEATH OF MERIWHETHER LEWIS
> Have you ever heard an absurd book called "The Jefferson Conspiracies:A > Presidents role in the Assasination of Meriwhether Lewis"? I have seen it a > couple times in used book stores(no surprise).It was written in the early > 90's(93 or94) by some obscure journalist,whose name escapes me. I have > flipped through it and found it completely absurd and without any factual > basis.It is a strange brew of speculation,innuendo, and slander.It attempts > to explain how Jefferson conspired to cover up the murder of Meriwhether > Lewis by General James Wilkinson.The author presents no facts to support his > allegations.Sadly an author named William Wallace who has written a > revisionist book claiming Jefferson attempted to exterminate the American > Indian attemps to give it credence in his new book "Jefferson and the > Indians".I'd like to know if you have heard of these books and your thoughts > on them. I have not seen the book, "The Jefferson Conspiracies," and cannot comment on it. Indications are that Meriwhether Lewis was depressed and mentally unstable at the time, just as people frequently are today, and that he committed suicide, just as such people frequently do today. Persons who are heavily involved with "interesting times" are often subjected to extraordinary stress. Vincent Foster seems to be a contemporary example. It seems to be the fashion now to rewrite history by utilizing the devices of fiction and then pass it off as the inside story. Annette Gordon-Reed did that with the Jefferson-Hemings controversy. If you examine that book, you will see almost every pages is loaded with "might-have-been" and "could-have-happened" products of her imagination -- something I found highly offensive. What is so surprising is that seemingly intelligent people can read that stuff and praise it as "scholarly" and "even-handed," when it is utterly biased on its very face! I truly don't understand that. I could accept the might-have-been approach IF it were applied to ALL possibilities, and each one was carefully evaluated in terms of known facts and normal human behavior, and then a judgment made on which possibility is probably the most likely. But when the whole process is one-sided, considering, for example, the possibility that Thomas Jefferson lied, but never considering the possibility that Sally Hemings lied, then most intelligent persons will think that they are being fed propaganda. But that kind of balanced consideration of all possible interpretations doesn't seem to happen in this age of tabloid journalism. Just last week, a friend gave me a copy of "Jefferson and the Indians," but I have not had a chance to read it yet. I notice that it does have a reference in it to "The Jefferson Conspiracies." The truth of the matter is, after my experiences with the Jefferson-Hemings controversy, I have become almost totally disillusioned with historians and their imaginative products. Many of them seem to have no concept whatsoever of a scientific approach to the search for truth, of the need to be on guard to prevent "fooling yourself," as Richard Feynman pointed out. I have known personally some of these kinds of people. They are highly intelligent, but their knowledge of things scientific and technical usually doesn't include how a light switch works. I could tell you amazing stories about some of them, and these were highly educated people working on their doctorates. When a historian can't figure out a person like Jefferson, his reaction is usually to say that the man was inconsistent and duplicitous. It never occurs to the historian that maybe he just doesn't understand Jefferson. When putting together my website, Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government, I deliberately avoided reading any books by historians related to the subject in order to prevent my mind from being poisoned by their perverted views. My advice to anyone would be to read all history together with many grains of salt. In fact, when studying someone like Jefferson, I think it is better to read his writings and get a good grasp of his thinking before reading books about him. Most books by historians seem to tell you more about the historian than they do about the subject of the book, else why can there be so many different books about the same person?
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