That was then, this is now

Politicians were not shy about discussing sexual pleasure, even as a matter of state business.  During Jefferson’s second term, when the ambassador from Tunis arrived in Washington, he requested that the secretary of state make his stay complete by providing him and his entourage with concubines.  Madison (generally portrayed as prim and proper) charged the ambassador’s pleasure to the government, listing “Georgia a Greek,” as one of the expenses among “appropriations for foreign intercourse”  He made light of the incident in a letter to Jefferson, noting the double meaning of “foreign intercourse.”

That is from Nancy Isenberg’s excellent Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr.  I also learned that Burr was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, and that late in his life Burr spent time with Bentham, was intrigued by the Panopticon idea, and he may have influenced Bentham on suffrage


Hypocritical Democratic-Republicans would later attempt to derail John Quincy Adams's political career by alleging that when he was the US Minister to Russia, he worked as a pimp for the tsar.

Sounds like our founding Fathers got a copy of the Trump dossier too.

I am not sure things have changed so much. I think that the public would not have been happy if they had known about this back then.

I am sure that this arrangement for the Ambassador was done discretely, and that Madison was confident that this information would not leak to the press.

I would imagine that something similar would occur today if there was confidence that things would not leak to the press. It is the fear of publicity what curbs this behavior, not change in mores, as this would be scandalous today, just as it would probably have been back then.

Consider the likely scandal from JFK's various affairs, had the press not overlooked them.

I _loved_ this book and it's a very useful corrective to Chernow (whose Hamlton bio is great but, um, overempathizes with its subject). The whole discussion of filibustering is great, too, and it sounds like Theodosia Prevost should be up alongside Abigail Adams with significant founding mothers.

No No No --- our government officials are superior persons, immune to normal human foibles and self-interest! That's precisely why they are so qualified to rule the rest of us ignorant sinners.
If they were just ordinary humans --- why obey them and their rules?

'our government officials are superior persons, immune to normal human foibles and self-interest'

Are you American? Americans know that government officials are just like all other Americans, including normal human foibles and self-interest. Which is why we replace them on a regular basis.

'to rule the rest of us ignorant sinners'

The American government takes no position on sin, that being a religious question the government is not allowed to involve itself in due to the 1st Amendment, but Americans exchange our 'rulers' on a regular basis.

Pretty sure Len was joking....

Such is life in America.

“My grandfather was a fire and brimstone preacher / but there are things that the homilies and hymns won’t teach ya”

Cmon Tyler, omnivore means omnivore


That was the line that came to mind for me, too.

After killing Hamilton, Burr fled to a slave plantation in Southeast Georgia to hide until calm was restored among Hamilton's friends. Of course, Hamilton and Burr were at odds over the creation of a national bank, Hamilton very much for it and Burr very much opposed to it (which is one reason many of today's libertarians admire Burr). The plan for the modern Fed was hatched on Jekyll Island, Georgia, in November 1910 in a secret meeting among Senator Nelson Aldrich and leading New York bankers. The significance of that location is that Burr would have looked across the sound from the slave plantation where he fled and seen Jekyll Island. A victory for the great Hamilton 100 years later!

Wouldn't it be great if Mike Pence and Timothy Geithner decided to shoot it out? Sadly, the nabobs have decided to direct homicidal energies toward total strangers thousands of miles away.

I’m surprised that Tyler didn’t read—or didn’t remember?—those Burr factoids in Chernow’s “Hamilton.”

'noting the double meaning of “foreign intercourse.”' What sort of morons is she writing for who need that pointed out to them?

My apologies to the author. It seems that Madison was treating Jefferson as a bit of a dimwit.

More likely Madison was making an inside joke to the worldly and brilliant Jefferson, not treating him as a dimwit. How silly of you to suggest such a thing. After all, when JFK had the first dinner of Nobel Prize winners in the White House, he said it was the most brilliant gathering since Jefferson dined alone there, and not only did Madison know this genius very well personally, he would have known of his relationship with Sally Hemings, making him certainly someone who might find the double entendre amusing without any extra explanation.


Referring to a slave owning literal slave RAPIST as “worldly and brilliant.”

Fascinating that the good professor Barkley Rosser refers to literal child rape of women of color as “his relationship.”

Time to make this racist prof viral.

He was worldly and brilliant however one characterizes his relationship with Hemings. I note that Sally Hemings was the half sister of his dead wife. How do you know that they were not in love with each other, IF? You do not, and nobody does. Their relationship clearly lasted a long time as there were several children coming out of it. As it is, if they were in love, he could not do "the right thing by her" by marrying her. That would have been against Viriginia law. The greater evil is that he had slaves at all.

BTW, IF, I would also note that Jefferson took Hemings to Paris with him. Now you may view that as just more awful endless evil rape, but in fact she almost certainly was allowed to live a much freer life while in Paris than in rural Virginia, quite aside from the fact that Paris was probably the most interesting, exciting, cultured, and cosmopolitan city in the world at that time. Methinks she might have somewhat appreciated being there, even if later they had to return to a home that was not so nice for her.

That won't wash. 'He made light of the incident in a letter to Jefferson, noting the double meaning of “foreign intercourse”.' If he felt obliged to explain the joke to Jefferson, either he was being a plonker or he thought Jefferson was a plonker.

No, dearieme, you are the plonker. Sorry.

Jefferson was a real president unlike the treasonous Moscow puppet we have in the White House.

Trump is a fascist and will be hanged for his crimes during Ocasio-Cortes secretary generalship.

But Jefferson was a literal owner of black bodies and actual child rapist of a child he owned.

He raped a 15 year old girl, and because she was black the law was on HIS side.

He raped her repeatedly for decades.

You sick conservatards side with a pedophile racist rapist. And even white liberal males like Barkley Rosser side with pedophile rapists. I guess that’s where people like Barkley Rosser are now. Supporting child rape and slavery. At least we know where they stand.

I’d hate for James Madison to hear about it.

Why do you assume it was "rape?" Why do you assume Sally did not like it? Jefferson was a charming fellow, and so intelligent! If you study societies around the world, you will find many where 15 year-old girls are paired with older men, and start having sex. But it is true there doesn't appear to be any historical written or oral record which speaks to Sally's opinions about the matter.

Well, IF, the latest is that Madison himself also may have had children by slaves, so you can tell him about what I said all you want. He was also brilliant, if not as worldly or brilliant as Jefferson. And as for Hemings's racial identity, she was reportedly 3/4 white. Her slave mother was already from a white slaveowner father and a black slave mother, with, of course, Hemings's white slaveowner father being the father of Jefferson's wife, who was the one who brought Sally Hemings into the Jefferson household in the first place. I do not approve of any of this, but that is the way it was in those days, and while we can say Jefferson (and maybe Madison also) was immoral for all this, it does not turn him into a moronic provincial. You may be outraged, IF, but you are coming across as a total idiot.

It's not even funny or entertaining trolling, just kinda sad.

Anyway, wasn't Jefferson thought to be unduly influenced by his ties to France and his sympathy for the French revolution?

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