The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures
The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures

The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures

Khalid Elhassan - December 11, 2020

The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures
Mahatma Gandhi in 1931. Wikimedia

5. A Great Moral Leader Who Had a Thing for Young Girls

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 – 1948) richly deserved the title by which he is better known to history: the Mahatma – Sanskrit for “Great Soul”, similar in usage to the English saint. Gandhi, an anti-colonial nationalist who pioneered new methods of resisting oppression, is one of history’s moral giants. One of the most revered figures of the modern era, Gandhi famously led India’s struggle for independence. Along the way, he perfected the strategy and tactics of nonviolent civil disobedience, and inspired other independence and civil rights movements around the world.

The ranks of those inspired by Gandhi’s nonviolent civil disobedience included Dr. Martin Luther King, who studied the Indian leader’s methods and put them to use in America’s Civil Rights movement. However, in his personal life, Gandhi was… a complex man. Nowhere is that complexity more evident than in his sleeping habits, and it is fortunate for the Great Soul’s public image that his sex life did not garner widespread coverage during his lifetime.

The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures
Mahatma Gandhi with his grandniece Manuben, right, and his grandnephew’s wife Abha, left. India Today

4. Gandhi Referred to His Sleeping Naked With Young Girls as an “Experiment”

Put bluntly, Mahatma Gandhi liked to sleep naked with young girls. The story put out by those in his circle was that the Great Soul did so in order to test his willpower and strengthen his resistance to the temptations of the flesh. In reality, it was probably less about spiritual experimentation, and more about Gandhi gratifying his sexual desires.

As one of the early acolytes who shared his bed described it after his death, it was all about protecting Gandhi’s public image. As she put it: “Later on, when people started asking questions about the physical contact with women … the idea of experiments was developed … in the early days, there was no question of calling it an experiment“.

The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures
The Declaration of Independence. Boston Globe

3. This Great Founding Father Was a “Complicated” Man

To state that Thomas Jefferson was a complicated man is to greatly understate things. On the one hand, this great Founding Father penned some of the most stirring words in advocating freedom, liberty, and equality. Jefferson’s phrase in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” has moved and inspired idealists for centuries.

Then we get to the other hand, and the jarring contrast between the man’s public perception and his private life. Jefferson pursued his happiness in a hilltop plantation, Monticello, leading a life of luxury that was only made possible by the labor of hundreds of chattel slaves. He also engaged in conduct that would be seen as clear-cut violent sexual criminality today: in Monticello, Jefferson raped his dead wife’s underage lookalike half-sister.

The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures
Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation. The Santa Clara

2. Thomas Jefferson Had a Child Sex Slave

Thomas Jefferson had a creepy – another understatement – relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings (1773 – 1835). Straightforward rape might be a more accurate description than a “relationship”. Sally Hemings was not free to accept or reject Jefferson’s advances. She was a slave, kept in bondage by a brutal system in which violence, including deadly violence, was used to coerce its victims and secure their compliance. She had as much choice in submitting to Jefferson’s sexual demands as does a modern kidnapped victim, who finds herself chained for years as a sex slave in some psycho’s basement.

Even if Sally Hemings had not been a slave, there would still have been something creepy about the age disparity between her and the great Founding Father. He was 44-years-old when he started having sex with Sally. She was thirteen or fourteen. Even if she had been a willing participant, it would be considered statutory rape today.

The Dark Side of Great Historic Figures
Brenda Yurkoski, one of Thomas Jefferson’s descendants through Sally Hemings. Roanoke Times

1. Thomas Jefferson Was Infatuated With His Child Concubine Because She Was His Dead Wife’s Half-Sister and Lookalike

There was more to Thomas Jefferson sexually preying upon Sally Hemings as his child concubine, which makes things even creepier. Hemings was also Jefferson’s dead wife’s sister and lookalike. She was the daughter of a slave woman and John Wayles, Jefferson’s father-in-law. That made her the biological half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson (1748 – 1782). Hemmings, who was nine when her sibling died, bore a striking resemblance to the deceased Martha. The resemblance only increased as she grew. Jefferson missed his dead wife, so when her lookalike sister was thirteen or fourteen, he began raping her.

Thomas Jefferson having sex with Sally Hemings would be an epic scandal if it had happened today, hitting just about every icky button there is, and destroying his public image beyond repair. Pedophilia? Check. Incest? Check. Violence, coercion, and rape? Check, check, and check. Adding another layer to it all is that Jefferson fathered six children upon Sally, and kept them as slaves. He eventually got around to freeing his children, but he never freed his concubine: Sally Hemings was still Jefferson’s slave when he died in 1826.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Aggrawal, Anil – Necrophilia: Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects (2010)

Alliance for Human Research Protection – Operation Paperclip Nazi Rogues

BBC History – Charlemagne

Black, Edwin – IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation (2001)

Chicago Tribune, September 24th, 1985 – Deported Nazi Scientist Still Has Many Supporters

Encyclopedia Britannica – Paul III

Gulik, Robert Hans Van – Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society From ca. 1500 BC Till 1644 AD (2003)

History – History Stories: How Early Suffragists Sold Out Black Women

Huffington Post, February 27th, 2012 – IBM’s Role in the Holocaust: What the New Documents Reveal

India Today, November 30th, 1999 – Mahatma & Manuben: Newly Discovered Diaries of Gandhi’s Personal Attendant Reveal How His Experiments With Celibacy Changed Her Life

Jacobsen, Annie – Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America (2014)

History Collection – 20 Historical Figures Who Changed The World, and Also Committed Monstrous Deeds

New York Times, January 3rd, 1996 – Arthur Rudolph, 89, Developer of Rocket in First Apollo Flight

New York Times, June 16th, 2018 – Monticello is Done Avoiding Jefferson’s Relationship With Sally Hemings

New York Times, July 28th, 2018 – How the Suffrage Movement Betrayed Black Women

PBS, American Experience – Ford’s Anti-Semitism

Task Force Baum – The Hammelburg Raid

Telegraph, The, November 3rd, 2003 – Ford ‘Used Slave Labour’ in Nazi German Plants

Vox – Thomas Jefferson Spent Years Raping His Slave Sally Hemings

Washington Post, November 30th, 1998 – Ford and GM Scrutinized For Alleged Nazi Collaboration

Washington Post, July 7th, 2017 – Sally Hemings Wasn’t Thomas Jefferson’s Mistress, She Was His Property

We Are the Mighty – Patton Once Sent 300 Men to Rescue His Son-in-Law From a Nazi Prison

Wikipedia – IBM and the Holocaust

Wikipedia – Task Force Baum

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