Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President

That is the title of an upcoming eBook I am publishing on Amazon.com along with fellow Grove City College professor of political science, Michael Coulter. We are greatly expanding the posts I did here examining and debunking claims by David Barton and others about Thomas Jefferson. Most of the book is new material and examines claims about Jefferson in the areas of church and state relations, education, the Bible, his religious views and current politics. There is an extensive section on the Jefferson Bible and other claims related to the Bible rarely included in any resource on Jefferson. We are including an annotated bibliography of accurate and helpful resources as well.

One book that won’t be on that list but we discuss frequently is David Barton’s new book, The Jefferson Lies, which is now available on Amazon. I’ve read it and we include substantial rebuttals to claims made in the book. In fact, one of the claims I responded to when I wrote about Kirk Cameron’s new movie Monumental which comes out tomorrow. In that post, I noted that Barton misled viewers about a Family Bible and indeed in his book, he identifies it as the Thompson hot press

Bible. In the advanced copy I have, Barton claims that Bible was funded by a dozen signers of the Declaration and Constitution, including Jefferson. Barton says Jefferson “personally helped finance the printing of one of America’s groundbreaking editions of the Bible.” (p. 68). In truth, he bought a Bible from Thompson and Small along with over 1270 other people. ┬áIn fact, Jefferson didn’t finish paying for it until after the Bible was printed. It was completed in 1798 and Jefferson didn’t pay his final $10 until early 1799.

A website is in the works and it will be available as an eBook on Amazon in mid-April. Ebooks can be read on any smart phone, IPad, IPod, computer, Kindle or reading device. For now, go Like our Facebook page and and answer a question we deal with in the book. More questions will be added between now and mid-April.

8 thoughts on “Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President”

  1. BTW, the most interesting thing I find about the “Jefferson Bible” is that he left in the Lord’s Prayer. A co-blogger of mine also notes that Jefferson also left in Jesus’ return to judge the living and the dead, and a reference to the Holy Spirit.

    http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2011/04/two-observations-about-thomas.html

    Unfortunately for him, this is the type of rigorous analysis that would bolster David Barton’s case, but seems above or beyond his scholarly skills and interest level. So instead, we get exaggerations of a handful of relatively minor factoids that would prove little even if they were true. For instance, it would consistent with Jefferson’s view on things to assist in the publication of a good edition of the Bible even as he didn’t believe it was the Word of God.

    [Unlike Hume’s “History of England,” which Jefferson banned from his University of Virginia!] [Yes, really, Virginia.]

    And judging by the positive comments to the “de-bunkings” of Barton by you and others, I must say that they appear to be more high fives about a victory for the anti-Barton team than any genuine concern or interest in the actual factoids, say, what Jefferson actually thought about church and state. They do seem to be the other side of the same coin to me.

    I do congratulate you on yr conscientious work, Dr. T. I suppose that it’s necessary, but I’m not sure for whom. The culture war aspect makes Barton’s defenders circle their wagons all the more, and his ideological enemies all the less open to investigating the actual truth of the matter, religion and the Founding.

    For the thing is, David Barton isn’t wrong about everything. He may even may right more often than he’s not. That George Washington, in the first inaugural address, said

    “it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe…”

    is beyond David Barton’s poor power to add or detract. That George Washington believed in the same sort of “providential history” that only Barton-type evangelicals believe in today in 2012, that

    “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…”

    well, again, it’s not about David Barton, it’s about George Washington. You will get many high-fives for “de-bunking” David Barton’s exaggerations on this or that, but how many of the high-fivers know that President Washington’s first “official act” was to thank The Almighty for the success of the revolution and framing the Constitution?

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres13.html

    Even if David Barton is a “liar for Jesus,” when we focus only on lies and errors, we lose sight of the greater truths. What Barton’s fans know, but his more educated and enlightened critics may not, is that the greater truth of religion and the Founding is in Washington’s First Inaugural Address, not in the Jefferson Bible.

    Thank you for your time, Warren, and pls do keep up your meticulously honest work. It’s a gift to all who read it and I thank you for it.

  2. BTW, the most interesting thing I find about the “Jefferson Bible” is that he left in the Lord’s Prayer. A co-blogger of mine also notes that Jefferson also left in Jesus’ return to judge the living and the dead, and a reference to the Holy Spirit.

    http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2011/04/two-observations-about-thomas.html

    Unfortunately for him, this is the type of rigorous analysis that would bolster David Barton’s case, but seems above or beyond his scholarly skills and interest level. So instead, we get exaggerations of a handful of relatively minor factoids that would prove little even if they were true. For instance, it would consistent with Jefferson’s view on things to assist in the publication of a good edition of the Bible even as he didn’t believe it was the Word of God.

    [Unlike Hume’s “History of England,” which Jefferson banned from his University of Virginia!] [Yes, really, Virginia.]

    And judging by the positive comments to the “de-bunkings” of Barton by you and others, I must say that they appear to be more high fives about a victory for the anti-Barton team than any genuine concern or interest in the actual factoids, say, what Jefferson actually thought about church and state. They do seem to be the other side of the same coin to me.

    I do congratulate you on yr conscientious work, Dr. T. I suppose that it’s necessary, but I’m not sure for whom. The culture war aspect makes Barton’s defenders circle their wagons all the more, and his ideological enemies all the less open to investigating the actual truth of the matter, religion and the Founding.

    For the thing is, David Barton isn’t wrong about everything. He may even may right more often than he’s not. That George Washington, in the first inaugural address, said

    “it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe…”

    is beyond David Barton’s poor power to add or detract. That George Washington believed in the same sort of “providential history” that only Barton-type evangelicals believe in today in 2012, that

    “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…”

    well, again, it’s not about David Barton, it’s about George Washington. You will get many high-fives for “de-bunking” David Barton’s exaggerations on this or that, but how many of the high-fivers know that President Washington’s first “official act” was to thank The Almighty for the success of the revolution and framing the Constitution?

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres13.html

    Even if David Barton is a “liar for Jesus,” when we focus only on lies and errors, we lose sight of the greater truths. What Barton’s fans know, but his more educated and enlightened critics may not, is that the greater truth of religion and the Founding is in Washington’s First Inaugural Address, not in the Jefferson Bible.

    Thank you for your time, Warren, and pls do keep up your meticulously honest work. It’s a gift to all who read it and I thank you for it.

  3. Interesting stuff, Prof. Throckmorton. I’ve been following your work [both in psychology and de-Bartonizing] for awhile and find it scrupulously exacting.

    I must admit these rhetorical stretches of the truth by Mr. Barton don’t move my meter tremendously, but I have no disagreement with your disagreements either. Why Mr. Barton latches on the most deistic of the founders [besides Paine] in the first place remains a mystery to me.

    I’ve found zero evidence that Jefferson regarded the Bible as divinely inspired or that he regarded Jesus as anything more than an equal [Jefferson thinking very highly of himself].

    Barton does light onto some truths, however, that the common perception of Jefferson holds him as more hostile to religion than he actually was. Theologically/philsophically, he was extremely hostile to religion, especially of the organized variety with all its its doctrines and dogmas.

    Socio-politically, however, the case can be made and defended is that Jefferson stood midway between the “accommodationist” view of church and state and the “strict separationism” of 20th century court decisions and the Freedom From Religion Foundation types than an unalloyed ally of the latter.

  4. Interesting stuff, Prof. Throckmorton. I’ve been following your work [both in psychology and de-Bartonizing] for awhile and find it scrupulously exacting.

    I must admit these rhetorical stretches of the truth by Mr. Barton don’t move my meter tremendously, but I have no disagreement with your disagreements either. Why Mr. Barton latches on the most deistic of the founders [besides Paine] in the first place remains a mystery to me.

    I’ve found zero evidence that Jefferson regarded the Bible as divinely inspired or that he regarded Jesus as anything more than an equal [Jefferson thinking very highly of himself].

    Barton does light onto some truths, however, that the common perception of Jefferson holds him as more hostile to religion than he actually was. Theologically/philsophically, he was extremely hostile to religion, especially of the organized variety with all its its doctrines and dogmas.

    Socio-politically, however, the case can be made and defended is that Jefferson stood midway between the “accommodationist” view of church and state and the “strict separationism” of 20th century court decisions and the Freedom From Religion Foundation types than an unalloyed ally of the latter.

  5. I’m so with you I liked your facebook page twice (once from my farm page).

  6. This is excellent news. I’ll be purchasing two copies: one for myself, and one for my mother…who’s attending a screening of “Monumental” tomorrow. Maybe your book will have success where I’ve experienced only failure.

  7. This is excellent news. I’ll be purchasing two copies: one for myself, and one for my mother…who’s attending a screening of “Monumental” tomorrow. Maybe your book will have success where I’ve experienced only failure.

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