Letter to Thomas Jefferson About Barack Obama

Video muted: click volume for sound


Dear Thomas Jefferson,
I would like to respectfully introduce myself as the great, great grand daughter of Madison Hemings. It is with some difficultly that I attempt to quell my enthusiasm in composing this letter. I also offer my most sincere apology in the delay as it was only very recently that I came to understand this communication even possible. This correspondence has come to you from the future of your experiment in democracy—The United States of America in 2009. (Article continued below...)

Please be assured your legacy is illustrious. Your Declaration of Independence is the model for democracy throughout the world. Before I disclose the celebrated event that will be the culmination of this epistle, I would like to briefly revisit two of your other writings. First, "Notes on the State of Virginia," which is readily quoted, as if those unfortunate words express your definitive position on race. If you have wrestled with the thought of these less than adept theories having found their way into history, be comforted in knowing that I have also read your letter of Feb. 25, 1809, in which your opinions concerning race had become quite progressive. Please indulge my reference of your compositions once more:

Many have served in the hope of "hastening the day of our relief," but the genius and ultimate sacrifice of one in particular, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., would serve as the staff before many who would work diligently to not only re-establish our people "on an equal footing with the other colors of the human family" but make it possible for the one who will be president this year. The nation you were so instrumental in establishing has become the greatest on the earth. The unfulfilled ideals of democracy which I am certain burdened your heart are closer to fulfillment. Slavery is ended and we the people in the year of our Lord 2008 have elected Barack Obama—an African American to our nation's highest office. The president-elect has said, "It is only in this country the United States of America that my story is even possible." You have begun a great work that in 200 years has not only survived but continues to become a more perfect union.

On Jan. 20, 2009, a black American will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. He will share the White House with his beautiful wife and two lovely daughters. It is my most sincere and heartfelt prayer that if any Americans harbor doubts or fears based upon race they will consider the position you so eloquently expressed, and recognize that our new president is not the fulfillment of a race but the culmination of the dreams of our founding fathers. Our president is embraced by a burden that is older than his natural years. The burden of our nation's unfulfilled potential. Our president-elect has said, "To whom much is given, much is required." We have certainly all been given much and it is my prayer that we will now work together as one people in the effort to move closer to realizing a whole and complete democracy under his leadership.

Two hundred and thirty-three years since you penned the Declaration of Independence; the citizens of The United States of America refer to you as one of our most illustrious founding fathers—the sage on Monticello, and I with great reverence also tender to you my admiration.

Your great, great, great granddaughter,
Clara Lee Fisher
Washington, Pa.

Editor's Pick