A Contrarian View of Jefferson

by Richard Brookhiser

Albert Murray, who died Sunday, was interviewed some years ago by Richard Snow, longtime editor of American Heritage. Snow remembered one moment in particular.

I saw that Albert Murray had died. What a high-spirited guy he was. The Sally Hemings business had brought the question of Jefferson and slavery to the fore, and of course it came up in the interview with Murray. He snorted. “I’m sick of hearing about it,” he said. “Who cares if Jefferson had slaves? Why, if I could, I’d dig him up and give him six MORE slaves. That man invented FREEDOM!” Then he gave a rueful smile and said, “You’d better not print that. I catch enough hell as it is.”

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