Jefferson and the French Connection

Merrill Peterson notes that Jefferson’s ties to France were a big part of the problem.[1] He writes:

  • “Infidelity, Jacobinism, Disunionism—these were the most dreadful evils the people had to fear from the lean and crafty Virginian.”
  • “The source of Jeffferson’s malignity was French philosophy. He was a visionary theorist, ‘a philosophe in the modern French sense of the word. . . .’”
  • “Of course, Jefferson’s infidelity stemmed from French philosophy. In 1798 New England religionists set up a hue and cry on the world-wide conspiracy against Christianity masterminded by a secret order, the Illuminati, which had overspread Europe under the aegis of the French Revolution and infiltrated seditious societies in the United States. This absurdity was exploded by 1800. . . .”
  • “Some of the shots were wild rumors, for example, that he had done away with the Sabbath and introduced the French calendar in this family.”[2]

[1] Ties to France would be a big problem for any politician at that time. There is no doubt that the spirit of the French Revolution was an anti-church one, one could even say anti-God. The revolutionaries there even changed the calendar (from year 1791 to year 1 of the Republic) to distance themselves from any vestige of Christian influence. They abandoned the seven-day week and changed it to a ten-day period, so as to get away from the Judeo-Christian notion of the Sabbath. But there is no evidence that Jefferson bought into such anti-Christian views. Jefferson left before the full chaos of the French Revolution began and the blood ran in the streets.

[2] Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, 637, 638.

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