Over the past few years many people have developed a bad habit of measuring the past against the standards of today. The Eighteenth Century was different than we are today. The people were different, life was different, values and customs were different than they are today.
We can’t measure anyone who was living more than two hundred years ago by the standards we have today. We can’t be measured by the standards of 1750 either, life was different we wouldn’t fit in to their time and place.
Benjamin Franklin conducted his observations and experiment where he discovered much of what was known at the time of the nature of electricity, in the 1740s. Their lives did not include anything with electricity, their news came from word of mouth, or pamphlets and newspapers, printed weekly, not daily. They used Town Criers for breaking news.
This country was very new and just really developing into the United States of America, they were still a colony of England. That was not our time or place.
Take Ben Franklin, John Adams, or Thomas Jefferson and bring them to the current day and they wouldn’t fit in with us. This is not their time or place.
General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson were honored by Charlottesville, Virginia when they erected statues to their memories and named parks after them. In 2017 Charlottesville decided to rename their parks and tear down the statues. The city had every right to do that, but that didn’t sit well with everyone.
In their time these two Southern Gentlemen and Soldiers were very well respected and admired by their friends, neighbors and even their enemies. In their time and place they were men of substance and men to be respected and admired. Measuring them by today’s standards is wrong and unfair. They didn’t live today they didn’t have the benefit of the exposure to today’s time and place.
The city of Charlottesville had the right to make the change, but they opened the door to the protests that followed. Holding them to today’s standards was unfair and an insult to their memories. That doesn’t justify the violence that occurred but it does explain why the emotions and tempers were so high.
Today many fault our Founding Fathers for their acceptance of Slavery in the founding of our country. Slavery was a part of life and a part of our economy at that time. Their acceptance of what was normal in their time and place was not wrong of them. Some did attempt to rid the country of slavery at our founding, but that wasn’t the right time and place, there was too much opposition to it then. Eighty more years and the Civil War were required to settle the issue of slavery. That was the time and place for the resolution of Slavery, not at our Founding in the 1700s.
We as a country didn’t invent slavery, it was a part of civilization since the dawn of man. The Romans, the Greeks and countless other civilizations dealt in slavery. Its part of our world history, not just part of American history.
In the time and place people live and exist they’re accountable for the values and customs of their time and place.
Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and had children by his slave or slaves. That was a common practice for men of substance in the 1700s. He was not evil, he was not a criminal, he was a man of his time.
We’re wrong for judging him through our filters of right and wrong in our time and place. He live his life as a Virginian in the 1700s not as a man of the twenty first century; we should judge him in his own time and place.
History and Context must be considered together. It’s a matter of time and plac