David Barton Defends His Research and Book on the Faith of Thomas Jefferson

In 2011, Thomas Nelson contracted with me to pen The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. Released on April 10, 2012, it promptly became a New York Times bestseller. Prior to its release, Grove City College psychology professor Warren Throckmorton obtained a pre-publication copy for review, and joined by Grove City humanities and political science professor Michael Coulter, the two penned a rebuttal to my work, Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President, released just three weeks after my book.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). I welcome appraisal of my work. Indeed, whenever I receive word of a possible inaccuracy in any work, I investigate the claim and, if it is accurate, I make the necessary corrections in subsequent printings. This has been my established practice for 25 years. 

Throckmorton's work is relentlessly negative and, as I show in this article, many of his charges are simply wrong. However, he does point out a few passages in The Jefferson Lies that might have been more carefully worded or better argued. When I revise the book for its second edition, I will make changes to address these concerns. I do not address every issue he raised in his book, for as will be seen in this article, so many simply do not have merit. But I do address several of his larger criticisms that may seem to observers as having the most substance.

I am no stranger to criticism, but The Jefferson Lies ignited a small media firestorm that eventually led Thomas Nelson to pull the book. Why? One possibility suggested by some observers was the entrance of conservative critics who echoed Throckmorton's claims. For instance, the editor of a conservative national news magazine observed:

Left-wing historians for years have criticized Barton. We haven't spotlighted those criticisms because we know the biases behind them. It's different when Christian conservatives point out inaccuracies.

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David Barton
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