The following is a very short example of the genealogical method at work. To do a genealogy when it comes to the study of the history of anything, first, you take the texts that the majority/powerful talk about (the canon). Next, you take the texts of those of the minority/those with less power. Lastly, you read them together. An over-simplistic and brief overview of hard work that people do nowadays.
Cover of David Walker’s Appeal
David Walker’s APPEAL has been an overlooked document when it comes to doing history of the world. In fact, because of our racist gazes, it’s perpetually stuck in Black History Land, speaking to only the particular concerns of African Americans. Reading David Walker’s APPEAL as a theological text would suffice, and so would it even biblical interpretation. With the final and third edition printed in 1830, Walker left his mark on the world. Yes, it is a Christian anti-slavery document. More importantly, Walker offers us insight into what Jefferson’s own contemporaries believed about Jefferson, who David Barton and Glenn Beck,amateur historians and professional lying con con men claim to be a bible believing evangelical Christian. Walker’s analysis is brilliant and underrated, a work of Blerd Power to be sure. David Walker starts with the histories of ancient Greece, how the Helots were mistreated by the Spartans, and does a comparative study, showing that the pagans treated their slaves better than the Christians in colonial America.
Walker quotes Thomas Jefferson,
“Yet notwithstanding these and other discouraging circumstances among the Romans, their slaves were often their rarest artists. They excelled too, in science, insomuch as to be usually employed as tutors to their master’s children; Epicetus, Terence, and Phaedrus, were slave–but they were of the race OF WHITES. It is not their condition then, but their nature, which has produced the distinction.”
And there you have it; Thomas Jefferson promoting White Supremacy. In contrast, Jefferson says that blacks have been cursed with their black skin (how unfortunate!). It’s just not that Jefferson owned slaves, slept/raped his slave women and had kids by them, he was practicing what he believed, that black people were not human.
David Walker again and again cites Thomas Jefferson, and especially his Notes On The State of Virginia (linked here):
“I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are INFERIOR to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”
Blacks were animals, they were not human in Jefferson’s eyes. No where in Jefferson’s statements did he mention anything about God being creator of all of humanity, that we are all made in the image of God. Why? Because quite frankly, Jefferson was a non-Christian. David Walker groups Thomas Jefferson with the PAGAN philosophers of the past. In the second half of Walker’s APPEAL, Walker argues against “fellow Christians” like Bartholomew De La Casas and Henry Clay “The Great Compromiser” but Jefferson is not in their number.
To conclude his essay, Walker ends with a hymn by one of the Wesley brothers, and interestingly enough, excerpts from the Book of Common Prayer.
“Shall I for fear of feeble man, The Spirit’s course in me restrain? Or, undismay’d in deed and word, Be a true witness of my LORD.”