Thomas Jefferson Descendant Calls For His Memorial To Be Removed From D.C., Replaced By Harriet Tubman Memoria
In a new op-ed published in The New York Times, a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson said the memorial that stands to the second president in Washington, D.C. should be removed and replaced with a monument to Harriet Tubman.
Lucian K. Truscott IV said that when he and his siblings were children, they would often drive by the Jefferson Memorial, but never actually visited it. Instead, he said, much of their exposure to Jefferson’s history took place at Monticello, the plantation where Jefferson lived and which is now a historical landmark and tourist attraction. Truscott said his grandparents treated it like a family playground — which it was, in a way, as his grandparents and — by extension, he and his siblings — were and are direct descendants of Jefferson.
Truscott went on to say that he juxtaposed the second president’s home with the monument that bears his name because he believes the former serves as a perfect memorial to his ancestor, while the latter needs to go.
“As a memorial to Jefferson himself, [Monticello is] almost perfect… The memorial is a shrine to a man who during his lifetime owned more than 600 slaves and had at least six children with one of them, Sally Hemings,” Truscott wrote.
He also accused Jefferson of penning the words “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence, but of never actually doing anything to bring those words to fruition. He noted that, on his death, he did not free his slaves, excluding those descendant from Sally Hemmings, who were biologically his children and grandchildren. The rest he sold off to pay his debts, Truscott wrote.
He noted that — as he is a descendant of a slave owner — those descendants through the Hemmings line are descendants of slaves, which meant that one part of his family owned another part.
“That is the American history you will not learn when you visit the Jefferson Memorial. But you will learn it when you visit Monticello,” he wrote.
Truscott then went on to propose an alternative to the Jefferson Memorial — a monument to Harriet Tubman. The former slave helped runaway slaves escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad and served as a scout for the Union during the Civil War.
He also noted that over the past few weeks, since the death of George Floyd, other monuments to people who held slaves or fought for its legality have been removed or destroyed, while supporters of those monuments have complained that doing so is “erasing history.”
Truscott wrote that replacing a statue of Jefferson with one of Tubman would not be “replacing history.”
“It’s telling the real history of America,” he concluded.