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David Barton Tells Glenn Beck a More Obvious Lie to Refute the Refutation of a Less Obvious Lie

By       Message Chris Rodda     Permalink
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Here's a transcription of what Barton said:

"Jefferson has a long record of not doing presidential things that he disagrees with. The Alien and Sedition Acts were a federally passed law. We have twenty-four guys sitting in jail because the courts enforced it. Jefferson disagreed with it. He took all twenty-four out of jail. He refused to enforce the law. Anything he disagrees with he doesn't do. If he had trouble with that [the way the ships' papers were dated], it's a government printer."

By the time that Jefferson took office, the Sedition Act had expired. Jefferson, of course, opposed this act, but this had nothing to do with him freeing anybody who was imprisoned under it. The Sedition Act had been passed by Jefferson's Federalist political rivals and signed by John Adams in 1798 to keep Jefferson's Republican political supporters from writing anything bad about the Federalist Adams administration! The act's expiration date was March 3, 1801, the last day before the end of Adams's term as president. Jefferson didn't have to stand up to anyone to free anybody!

And there weren't even twenty-four prisoners even when there actually were prisoners. There were only ten men who were even convicted under the act to begin with, and even fewer who were actually put in jail, with the longest sentence being eighteen months, and the rest being much shorter than that. I'm pretty sure that James Callender, who would later turn on Jefferson and publish the Sally Hemings story, was the only one actually still in jail when the act expired on March 3, 1801. The rest  (with the exception of one other who had finished serving his actual sentence months before Jefferson took office, but didn't have the money to pay the fine he had also gotten) had been freed long before Jefferson became president.

And, as I explained in my "No, Mr. Beck" video above, Jefferson couldn't have changed the wording of the date on this form even if he had wanted to. The language was mandated by an international treaty from 1782 and had to appear exactly as it did in a document annexed to that treaty, and the language was written by a country that was a Christian nation, so that's how they dated it.

I'm sure that a few more whoppers await us as Barton continues to weasel out of this little predicament he's gotten himself into, particularly since this was only the first of what will be several appearances on Glenn Beck's show. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

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Chris Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History.

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