The American Individualist

Friday, November 24, 2006

Jefferson vs. Lincoln as Most Influential

Here is a letter I wrote and emailed to The Atlantic. My letter pertains, not to what I previously posted about regarding the magazine’s discussion of Howard Roark, but to the actual top 100 list itself (see Specifically, my letter targets TA’s placing of Abraham Lincoln at the top, above Thomas Jefferson, as the most influential American ever.

To the Editor,

That Abraham Lincoln tops your list of all-time most influential Americans, particularly above a political prime mover such as Thomas Jefferson, indicates how modern historians shun fundamental values.

True, Lincoln abolished slavery and saved the Union, but what exactly did he save? Well, the freest nation in history -- which Jefferson made possible. For the first time, Jefferson and his fellow founders establishment a nation based on the ideas of “All men are created equal” and “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” -- that is, that each individual, despite such non-essential characteristics as race, has an inherent right to these values.

Yes, some founders like Jefferson owned slaves, but slavery had previously been practiced in virtually every culture throughout history. What’s most important about the founders is that they were the vital bridge between the old world and a new, enlightened, freer one, influencing men away from the dogmas that your life belongs to Gods, kings or tribal groups, to the object fact that each individual has sovereignty over his own life. In short, Jefferson and the founders established a unique nation that remains the most influential beacon of freedom and life ever.

Without the ideas that Jefferson championed, there would have been no Civil War, since men would still have been without the moral and political grounds on which to seriously oppose slavery. Hell, there likely wouldn’t have even been a Union for Lincoln to have saved.

Joseph Kellard

You can email your own letter to The Atlantic at:


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