David Barton's Jefferson Lies: The Immigration and Healthcare Edition

Chris Rodda has done it again. Although I can’t add much to this take down of David Barton, I want my readers to be aware of it. Let me summarize and further illustrate Rodda’s excellent post.
On the March 9 edition of Wallbuilders Live radio program, Barton took a question from a listener about immigration. To answer her, Barton claims to offer a quote from Thomas Jefferson. Listen:

Transcript:

Let me read a Thomas Jefferson quote on what the federal government’s to do with this combination of immigration-health care. He says quote, “The federal government is to certify with the exact truth for every vessel sailing in from a foreign port the state of health on that vessel, which prevails from which country she sails. But the state authorities are charged with the care of the public health.”
So the feds get to do health care only for ships carrying immigrants coming to the United States and we see what the health conditions were when they left, what they are when they get here, and everything else belongs to the states on health care. And immigration was very much the same.

Chris Rodda points out that Jefferson did not say what Barton made him say.
First, let me repeat what Barton said Jefferson said.

The federal government is to certify with the exact truth for every vessel sailing in from a foreign port the state of health on that vessel, which prevails from which country she sails. But the state authorities are charged with the care of the public health.

Barton changed Jefferson’s words in ways that make next to impossible to believe he did it without knowing he was distorting Jefferson’s words and meaning.
What is the source of Barton’s fractured quote? In his 1805 report to Congress on the state of the nation, Jefferson began by mentioning the yellow fever epidemics in the U.S.  Jefferson first acknowledged the epidemic and then he told Congress that he had taken steps to reassure our European trading partners that the fever wasn’t spread via vessels sailing from our ports. Do you see how Barton changed Jefferson’s meaning?

In taking a view of the state of our country we in the first place notice the late affliction of two of our cities under the fatal fever which in latter times has occasionally visited our shores. Providence in His goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the number of victims which have usually fallen before it. In the course of the several visitations by this disease it has appeared that it is strictly local, incident to cities and on the tide waters only, incommunicable in the country either by persons under the disease or by goods carried from diseased places; that its access is with the autumn and it disappears with the early frosts. These restrictions within narrow limits of time and space give security even to our maritime cities three fourths of the year, and to the country always. Although from these facts it appears unnecessary, yet to satisfy the fears of foreign nations and cautions on their part not to be complained of in a danger whose limits are yet unknown to them I have strictly enjoined on the officers at the head of customs to certify with exact truth, for every vessel sailing for a foreign port the state of health respecting this fever which prevails at the place from which she sails.. Under every motive from character and duty to certify the truth, I have no doubt they have faithfully executed this injunction. Much real injury has, however, been sustained from a propensity to identify with this endemic and to call by the same name fevers of very different kinds, which have been placed among those deemed contagious. As we advance in our knowledge of this disease, as facts develop the source from which individuals receive it, the State authorities charged with the care of the public health, and Congress with that of the general commerce, will become able to regulate with effect their respective functions in these departments. The burthen of quarantines is felt at home as well as abroad; their efficacy merits examination. Although the health laws of the States should be found to need no present revisal by Congress, yet commerce claims that their attention be ever awake to them.

To make this very clear, let me reproduce Barton’s quote but omit the words Jefferson didn’t say.
___ ______ ___________ __ to certify with ___ exact truth for every vessel sailing __ ____ a foreign port the state of health __ ___ ____, which prevails __ ___ _____ from which ________ she sails. (75 words) ___ the state authorities __ charged with the care of the public health (21 words).
Now let me do it a different way. I will reproduce the entire actual quote from Jefferson with the words Barton chose to include in his fractured quote in bold print.

In taking a view of the state of our country we in the first place notice the late affliction of two of our cities under the fatal fever which in latter times has occasionally visited our shores. Providence in His goodness gave it an early termination on this occasion and lessened the number of victims which have usually fallen before it. In the course of the several visitations by this disease it has appeared that it is strictly local, incident to cities and on the tide waters only, incommunicable in the country either by persons under the disease or by goods carried from diseased places; that its access is with the autumn and it disappears with the early frosts. These restrictions within narrow limits of time and space give security even to our maritime cities three fourths of the year, and to the country always. Although from these facts it appears unnecessary, yet to satisfy the fears of foreign nations and cautions on their part not to be complained of in a danger whose limits are yet unknown to them I have strictly enjoined on the officers at the head of customs to certify with exact truth, for every vessel sailing for a foreign port the state of health respecting this fever which prevails at the place from which she sails. Under every motive from character and duty to certify the truth, I have no doubt they have faithfully executed this injunction. Much real injury has, however, been sustained from a propensity to identify with this endemic and to call by the same name fevers of very different kinds, which have been placed among those deemed contagious. As we advance in our knowledge of this disease, as facts develop the source from which individuals receive it, the State authorities charged with the care of the public health, and Congress with that of the general commerce, will become able to regulate with effect their respective functions in these departments. The burthen of quarantines is felt at home as well as abroad; their efficacy merits examination. Although the health laws of the States should be found to need no present revisal by Congress, yet commerce claims that their attention be ever awake to them.

Barton added and subtracted words he wanted to make Jefferson say something he didn’t say. Surely David Barton knows the difference between “sailing for” a port and “sailing in from” one.
Clearly, Jefferson told Congress that he had taken steps to address foreign worries about disease coming into their countries, not from them. Barton also eliminated references to federal oversight of health because Barton wants his audience to believe the founders believed health care was a state matter. However, Jefferson refers to the State authorities and “Congress with that of general commerce.” Barton omits this reference.
Sometimes Barton’s errors are interpretive, but in this case, he simply took liberties with Jefferson’s words and has presented a false story.  Such conduct disqualifies Barton as a historian.

David Barton, Guns, and the Second Amendment

I recently purchased David Barton’s book on the Second Amendment and had planned a mini-series on it. However, Chris Rodda beat me to it with several detailed posts on his book and other statements Barton has made recently.  This post just gives some examples and points you to her articles.
First, regarding Barton’s book on the Second Amendment, Rodda takes several citations from Barton’s book and demonstrates how he edits them to suit his purposes. For instance in his book, Barton quotes the legal scholar Blackstone on the right to bear arms (location 73).

“Concerning the right of citizens to own and use arms, Blackstone’s declared:
“‘The … right of the [citizens] that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defense. … [This is] the natural right of resistance and self-preservation when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression…. [T]o vindicate these rights when actually violated or attacked, the [citizens] are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next, to the right of petitioning the [government] for redress of grievances; and lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense.'”

Rodda points out that Barton chopped up Blackstone’s citation to remove the qualifications on the right to keep and bear arms. Note what Barton removed in bold below.

“The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law.Which is also declared by the same statute 1 W. & M. st. 2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance,under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.”
“And, lastly, to vindicate these rights, when actually violated or attacked, the subjects of England are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next to the right of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievances; and lastly to the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense. And all these rights and liberties it is our birthright to enjoy entire;unless where the laws of our country have laid them under necessary restraints.” (Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, vol. 1, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1775)

Blackstone was very nearly quoting the 1689 Bill of English Rights which stated:

7. That the subjects which are protestants, may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law. (emphasis added)

As you can see, Barton removed the references to the qualifications mentioned by the English Bill of Rights and cited by Blackstone.  Clearly, the English Bill of Rights influenced the framers and delineated a set of rights for a free people. While Blackstone considered the right to possess arms to be a natural right restricted only under “very grave consideration,” he also allowed that the right could be subject to “necessary restraints.”
Barton fans who read here: help me understand why Barton omitted these sections.  How can one get a complete picture of the history of the Second Amendment if relevant portions of historical writing are omitted? By not including these phrases, what meaning is conveyed?  Does his presentation of Blackstone provide the truth about Blackstone’s position?
Finally, let me point you to a recent post from Rodda on gun accidents. Barton told Glenn Beck that he could only find two gun accidents in two hundred years of history.

“I have searched and in the founding era I think I’ve only ever found two gun accidents, and everybody was hauling guns back then. You took your guns to church — you were required by state law in some states to take your guns to church. We didn’t have accidents because everyone was familiar with how to use them. It’s not being familiar that makes it dangerous.”

On the face of it, this seems preposterous. Rodda did a little digging and found many more. Go read her long, sad list.
Barton’s other recent problems relating to gun issues include possibly pulling stories from Western novels, incorrectly stating Ronald Reagan’s position on the Brady Bill or claiming the NRA was founded in part to fight back against the KKK.
 

What is the Source for David Barton's Kids with Guns Story? (UPDATED)

UPDATE (2/26/13) – David Barton responded to this post on his website, admitting that the kids with guns story came from a Louis L’Amour novel.  He claims that sharing this story as historical fact is alright since L’Amour claimed the story was true. I examine that claim and compare it to the story of George Washington and the cherry tree in this post: David Barton, Kids, Guns and Historical Fiction.
…………….
(Original post begins here)
On January 16, on the Glenn Beck Show, David Barton claimed that the National Rifle Association was started in part to arm newly freed slaves against the KKK and that Ronald Reagan opposed the Brady Bill. However, these claims are false.
In that broadcast, Barton also related a story about a school in the 1850s where school children stopped the murder of their teacher by pulling their guns on a would-be assailant. The story sounded fishy at the time but he did not give any details which would allow the facts to be checked out.
Now Chris Rodda is wondering if the story may have been lifted from a Louis L’Amour novel. After reading her post on the matter, I wonder the same thing.  Go read it and see what you think. Here is what Barton said on Beck’s show:

The great example, in the 1850s you have a school teacher who’s teaching. A guy — he’s out in the West — this guy from New England wants to kill him and find him. So he comes into the school with his gun to shoot the teacher, he decides not to shoot the teacher because all the kids pull their guns out and point it at him and say, ‘You kill the teacher, you die.’ He says, ‘Okay.’ The teacher lives. Real simple stuff. Saved the life of — there was no shooting because all the kids — we’re talking in elementary school — all the kids pull their guns out and says, ‘We like our teacher. You shoot our teacher, we’ll kill you.

One of Rodda’s readers thought the story might have come from a Louis L’Amour Western novel (as did this Crooks and Liars commenter). Go read the account from the novel in Rodda’s post but the punch line is that it sounds remarkably like the L’Amour fiction. In response, Rodda issued a challenge for Barton to produce the historical source for his claim.  With this post, I join in asking for the source.
While the story is somewhat far fetched and perhaps even a little humorous, the challenge raised by Rodda is a serious matter. Mr. Barton’s and his defenders now have a perfect opportunity to verify this claim and to address his wounded credibility. Will he do it?
UPDATE: Here is the entire chapter in the L’Amour book where the school teacher is saved by his gun-totin’ students. Here is another chapter which describes the kids bringing guns to school.