Southern History Series: Thomas Jefferson’s Anglo-Saxon Identitarianism
The following excerpt comes from Reginald Horsman’s excellent book Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism:
“The Anglo-Saxons, thought Jefferson, had lived under laws based on the natural rights of man; after 1066 these rights had been eroded by the impositions of kings, clerics, lawyers, and by the whole system of feudalism.
Jefferson never lost the admiration for Anglo-Saxon England that he had gained studying law and politics in the 1760s and early 1770s. Throughout his life he was fascinated by the Anglo-Saxon language, and he wrote a simplified grammar in the hope of making it more accessible to American students. He included Anglo-Saxon as part of his curriculum for the University of Virginia because, he wrote, “As the histories and laws left us in that type and dialect, must be the textbooks of the reading of the learners, they will imbibe with the language their free principles of government.” Jefferson’s interest in the language continued throughout his life. As late as 1825, when he was eighty-one, he commented that the study of Anglo-Saxon “is a hobby which too often runs away with me.”
The depth of Jefferson’s reading can be seen not only from his later arguments and the cast of his mind, but from the overt evidence of his Commonplace book. In these collections of quotations and extracts Jefferson goes beyond the English legal historians to display a fascination with the history of the northern nations in the years before the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England. This interest in the Teutonic peoples generally , which was becoming of increasing importance in England and on the Continent in the late eighteenth century, was eventually to be an important factor in transforming an emphasis on Anglo-Saxon society and institutions into an emphasis on the racial group to which the Anglo-Saxons supposedly belonged …
The ideal of Anglo-Saxon England that Jefferson believed in was a land of small political units and a land in which local rule prevailed in most concerns. …
“Anglo-Saxon studies represented no abstract academic exercise for Jefferson. When in the years from 1773 to 1776 he established first an American and then a European reputation, his arguments impressed upon his contemporaries the extent to which he believed that the Saxon government and way of life should become a model for the new America. His Summary View of the Rights of British America, published in 1774, suggested that the king should be reminded that in coming to America the emigrants from England had exercised the same natural right which “their Saxon ancestors” had left the woods of northern Europe and settled in England. Their mother country had exerted no claim on them in Britain, and there was nothing to distinguish the emigration of Englishmen to North America from that of the Saxons to England. Land in America, like land in Saxon England, should be completely free from feudalism.
It should come as no surprise that a large section of Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence echoed the old seventeenth century argument that a usurping king had taken away immemorial liberties, and in the months following the Declaration Jefferson clearly revealed the historically based Revolution he had in mind. In August 1776 John Adams told his wife about the work of the committee which he was suggesting inscriptions for the Great Seal of the United States. “Mr. Jefferson,” he wrote, “proposed the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and on the other side, Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs from whom we claim the honor of being descended, and whose political principles and form of government we have assumed.” On the previous day Jefferson had written: “Has not every restitution of the antient Saxon laws had happy effects? Is it not better now that we return at once into that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest and most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man, as it stood before the 8th century?”
Thomas Jefferson was the opposite side of the Anglo-Norman debate: he identified American liberty as a folk tradition of the Anglo-Saxons.
If he were alive today, there is no doubt that Thomas Jefferson would be completely on our side. The Declaration of Independence was personal for Jefferson because as an ardent Anglo-Saxonist he accused King George III and “our common kindred” who are “our British brethren” of being “deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.” King George III was willing to incite slave insurrections, the “merciless inhabitants of our frontier” and unleash the Hessian mercenaries on his own people.
“Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”
Strangely enough, we are told by idiots in the “mainstream” who have never read the Declaration of Independence that Americanism requires us to be “deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.” We’re told that somehow our society in the 21st century is what Jefferson the humane race realist, historicist, settler-colonialist, slaveowner, Anglo-Saxonist and racial separatist had in mind!
It’s just funny as hell because Jefferson was the king of the autists in his day. The Antifa in Charlottesville have also made plain their feelings about him. He is one of us.
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