You may recall that two years ago, the company Five Ponds Press found itself flailing in a sea of embarrassment over clumsy errors and disputed “facts” in history textbooks it sold to Virginia schools.
An eagle-eyed reader from Roanoke County recently spotted yet another error in one of the Connecticut publisher’s corrected editions.
This one puts words in the mouth of Thomas Jefferson, one of the most revered Virginians ever.
The 2010 controversy was over mistakes in first editions of “Our Virginia: Past to Present” and “Our America To 1865.” One was that thousands of black soldiers had fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. Another was the year that America entered World War I.
It later transpired that the author of both books had gleaned most of the errors from the Internet.
In response, the state board of education ordered a review of all history textbooks. Five Ponds hired professors to comb over and in some cases rewrite its volumes. They replaced the erroneous versions with ones that had historians’ stamp of approval.
The updated version of “Our America” stayed in some Roanoke County middle schools, and elsewhere in the commonwealth.
That book was issued to the reader’s sixth-grade daughter last month. On page 95 he found this quote attributed to Jefferson, our nation’s third president.
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
That sounds nice and neat, huh? The only problem is, there’s no evidence Jefferson ever wrote or said such a thing. That’s the verdict from leading Jefferson historians. At Monticello.org they’ve devoted an entire Web page to denying it.
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