The Myth of Righting the Ship: The Seven Deadly Sins of Jeffersonian Revisionists


In this book, Dr. M. Andrew Holowchak critically examines the revisionist literature on Thomas Jefferson. Disavowing the "hagiographical "depictions of Jefferson of prior scholars such as Chinard, Bowers, Patterson, Malone, and Peterson, revisionists have promised (1) a broadened scholarly perspective, (2) critical engagement by each scholar with all others’ works, (3) a commitment to scholarly objectivity, (4) context-regard, (5) circumspect weighing of all relevant evidence, (6) scholarly restraint apropos of bold assertions, and (7) scholarly dispassion. Yet revisionists, he maintains, have delivered on none of those promises. Instead, they have given us a mutilated figure, a monster of a man, who would have been unrecognizable to anyone who knew Jefferson in his day.

"The spirit of the master is abating"

The Myth of Jefferson's Racism

It is a common complaint of historians that Jefferson wrote often of the enormity of the institution of slavery, but was Oblomovian when it came to eradication of that pestilential institution. Thus, Jefferson’s words and inaction prove that his claims that all persons are created equal and are deserving of equal rights in his Declaration of Independence did not apply to Blacks. Jefferson was, in today’s terms, racist, and being mostly indifferent concerning the plight of Blacks, he was a hypocrite.

In this book, Dr. Holowchak critically assesses the secondary literature by examining Jefferson's views of Blacks in Notes on Virginia and important letters, as well as the views of the scientists of his day on race. He challenges the view that Jefferson did little to eradicate slavery and shows that the epithet "racist" is inapplicable and morally inappropriate.

Thomas Jefferson, Philosopher