To the Editor:
Nicholas Von Hoffman offers a strong rebuke to the recent tidal wave of Robert Moses revisionism [“Beware of the Robert Moses Revisionists,” May 28]. Mr. Von Hoffman’s plea to keep Moses’ anti-black rhetoric and action front and center is critical.
However, making an analogous case to the fashionable substitution of John Adams for Thomas Jefferson in the early-American-heroes pantheon is misleading. Far from being an American Enterprise Institute–engineered historical coup (as Mr. von Hoffman implies), the current reinterpretation has at least something to do with modern reconsiderations of Jefferson’s attitude toward slavery. For example, retrospective genetic testing has affirmatively proven that Jefferson sired children with his slave, Sally Hemings.
Contrast Jefferson’s disingenuousness with the genuine anti-slavery impulses of, say, Alexander Hamilton, and a more enlightened picture begins to emerge.