I am getting good feedback on the excerpt of Getting Jefferson Right at World Magazine. There are many questions that are floating around among evangelicals about this matter and for good reason. Michael Coulter and I are now working on a response to Mr. Barton’s rebuttal to GJR. For now, I posted a comment at World on both articles. Here it is:
“I want to thank World for hosting this exchange of views. Michael Coulter and I have read Mr. Barton’s rebuttal and plan a response to it which World has agreed to publish. Mr. Barton’s response sounds convincing, especially when one has not read our book, but there are numerous concerns which we will address. For instance, it is unfortunate that Mr. Barton does not address completely his or our position on Jefferson and slavery. In The Jefferson Lies (pg. 92), Mr. Barton omitted the section of the 1782 law on manumission which allowed owners to emancipate their slaves while the owners were alive. He simply omitted it from his presentation of the 1782 law leaving the impression that owners could only free their slaves via a will at death. We have asked Mr. Barton why he chose to omit that section with no reply.
Regarding our position in Getting Jefferson Right, we do not claim that Jefferson could have freed his many slaves at any time during his life. We identify a 24 year window (1782-1806) when Virginia law was relaxed and allowed for emancipation of slaves by owners. We acknowledge that freeing slaves was more difficult (although still possible) after 1806. Please note that Jefferson did not make his statement about the laws not allowing emancipation until 1814. Furthermore, Mr. Barton, in this current World article, acknowledges that security bonding was required only for “certain emancipated slaves” (page 3). This is an important clarification, but it is not news to us; we document these requirements in our book. Adult slaves under age 45 and older than 18 (women) or 21 (men) could be freed with a deed of manumission without financial guarantee from the master. Jefferson owned many such human beings.
In our book, we do not say that Jefferson could have freed all of his slaves, but we document that he could have done more to put into practice the words, “all men are created equal” than he did.
There are other instances of the kind I have described and we will address them in our response.”