Washington, DC — Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and a fierce defender of liberty. Jefferson also had sex with one of his slaves, suggested that male orangutans were sexually drawn to Black women, and enslaved his own children (not freed until decades after their birth).
As part of its new campaign, Statues are History, the National Park Service (NPS) recently-unveiled upgrades to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC that seek to capture these contradictions. The larger than life, 19 foot-tall statue of the founding father, in which he is portrayed in the outfit of a statesman, is now welded to another 19 foot-tall likeness, in which Jefferson, dressed in a straw hat, cotton shirt, and wool pants, wields a bloodstained whip high into the air, wearing an expression of vindictive rage.
Inside the memorial, Jefferson’s quotations from the Declaration of Independence and writings on democracy and liberty are now joined by additional passages from his famed memoir, Notes on the State of Virginia. The new quotes speak to Jefferson’s perception of the inferiority of Black people to Whites.
On mental and physical faculties:
“They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour.”
“…in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous”
On Black men’s supposed sexual preference for White women:
“…as uniformly as is the preference of the orangutan for the black woman over those of his own species.”
Of the greatest fascination to visitors, however, is the lifesized recreation of Jefferson’s concubine and slave, Sally Hemmings, and their six children, born into slavery. They cower in fear under the shadow of the new likeness’ raised whip.
The memorial’s upgrade is part of a nationwide effort by the NPS to respond to the backlash to the movement to remove statues built in honor of historical figures who committed crimes against humanity.
Speaking at the memorial’s ribbon-cutting on Tuesday, NPS spokesperson Bill Perkins explained the department’s rationale.
“People say you cant remove these folks because they’re history. But that’s balderdash. A statue is reverie. It means you love and honor that person. And these guys are at best contradictions and at worse, outright jerks. So if people want history, why not just give it to em! Let’s make all our statues actual testaments to history!” he bellowed to thunderous applause.
Perkins went on to detail additional plans as part of the NPS’ Statues are History effort. This fall, NPS will add an installation of 60,000 Native American figurines under the front left hoof of the rearing horse in the equestrian Andrew Jackson statue in front of the White House. The addition is meant to represent the seventh president’s “stomping” of the few indigenous peoples remaining in the United States when he sent them on a forced, suicide exodus to Oklahoma in what came to be known as the Trail of Tears.
Other organizations are taking cues from the NPS, with Princeton University reversing its decision to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from their public policy school. Speaking to the Daily Orb in an interview over the phone, University President, Christopher L. Eisgruber, shared his relief.
“Now that we all agree that statues and all this other stuff are actually history, all we have to do is add a plaque with a list of the names of all the Black government employees that Wilson fired as soon as he got into office to the main hall. Pretty good deal if you ask me!”
Prominent conservatives across the country have declared victory in a debate that has absorbed Americans’ attention for months.
President Donald Trump gloated to reporters in a packed Rose Garden on Wednesday.
“Everyone said Trump was wrong. But now even the National Park Service gets it in a bigly way. Statues are history. And I think that when you build one for me, will ya build one for me? I think that when you build one for me, it will be the same.”
NPS Spokesperson, Bill Perkins confirmed to the Daily Orb, that the park service is indeed already working on a statue of the 45th President, but that it may be a bit too “historic” for his tastes.