WOOF! Watchdogs of Our Freedom


The Presidential Mansion as it would have appeared when Jefferson didn't shoot anybody on the lawn.

The Presidential Mansion as it would have appeared when Jefferson didn’t shoot anybody on its lawn.

Okay, it’s undeniably true that we here at WOOF have a positive fetish for this ridiculous quote. We also love the fact that several websites go on at length describing this event, some even naming the hapless traitor whom Jefferson ostensibly dispatched.  The target is supposed to have been Rodney Cox, hailing from North Carolina, who was convicted, the story goes, of providing information on American naval plans to British agents. Jefferson supposedly substituted himself for the firing squad, shot Cox with a musket, and left him to bleed out over the next 10 hours. The source most often cited for this datum is “noted historian Robert Ludlum, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin.” 


Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, accused triggerman.


Robert Ludlum--the spy novelist--never one to assert that Jefferson shot Cox.

Robert Ludlum–the spy novelist–never one to assert that Jefferson shot Cox.

Sadly, there is no Robert Ludlum, Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, nor anywhere else so far as we have been able to discern. Robert Ludlum is, however, the name of the spy fiction writer who likes to mash proper and common nouns into thriller titles, like “The Bourne Identity” and “The Cassandra Compact.” He is nowhere on record regarding Jefferson’s alleged killing of Cox.  So far as WOOF can ascertain, there is no discussion anywhere of Jefferson shooting Cox prior to the debut of the film “Swordfish” in 2001. In the film, hero John Travolta as Gabriel Shears, perhaps best described as an anti-terrorist entrepreneur,  shoots a double-dealing U.S. Senator after informing him that “Thomas Jefferson once shot a man on the White House lawn for treason.” And bang! He bags the sleazy politician in mid-rebuttal.

Actually, of course, the White House wasn’t even particularly white during Jefferson’s presidency—it was painted starkly white after the British burned it during the war of 1812 (Jimmy Madison’s tenure).  And we weren’t at war with England at the time of Jefferson’s presidency, either. But the cinematic moment is so wonderful that it becomes painful to accept the reality: Thomas Jefferson never shot anybody—and if he had it probably would have been Adams, or maybe scandalmonger James T. Callender. But he didn’t. 

See, if Travolta had said, "Thomas Jefferson never shot anybody for treason on the White House lawn, but I don't care, 'cuz I'm shooting you in this trout stream," it wouldn't have been as memorable.

See, if Travolta had gotten out of the helicopter and said, “Senator, Thomas Jefferson never shot anybody for treason on the White House lawn, but I don’t care, ‘cuz I’m shooting you in this trout stream,” it wouldn’t have been as memorable.

All that said, it remains true that Jefferson had a lot to say about the right to bear arms, including:

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

 The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

And quoting the criminologist Cesare Beccaria, Jefferson wrote: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage then to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

He also wrote to his nephew, saying, “As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives [only] moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion to your walks.”  (Tried taking a walk with your gun around town lately?)

Shooting as exercise seems to work for Halle Berry.

Shooting as exercise seemed to work well for Halle Berry in “Swordfish.” 

Tom didn’t shoot that Cox dude, though! Not for exercise, not for treason.  But we LOVE the quote!

  1. That’s because Jefferson understood that tyranny is destroyed by violence.

    Here is the thing. If you have a government that is blatantly ignoring the laws and the constitution and now targeting people like a soft handed Stalin then we are coming close to either being taken over by tyranny or the second Civil War. These little hearings and investigations aren’t enough. People need to go to prison.

    The largest proponent of our demise that I see and have written about in the past is our apathy. Fact is people just don’t care—most of them. They hear a story of oppression, are enraged for a few seconds and then go back to their reality T.V. The Founding Fathers would already be meeting behind closed doors by now. I’ve seen one act of rebellion and that was the gun owners in Connecticut—in a later letter that stated in not so many words that if persecuted there would be retaliation. And that’s what needs to be said. If they start coming for us in our homes or bank accounts then maybe a few need to water the tree.

    We will see where these investigations go.Voter fraud the IRS and such. I imagine they will go nowhere. The end result is people should go to prison. Our own president is guilty of manipulating his own law—unilaterally. He should be impeached immediately no matter who is in Congress. And if we are going to just sit back and watch T.V. and play Fantasy Football then we are already lost. Because the Founding Fathers gave everything. Many died penniless and on the run after they signed the D of I. If we are to save our country it may be time for the Patriots to start thinking they may have to do the same.

    Charles Hurst. Author of THE SECOND FALL. An offbeat story of Armageddon. And creator of THE RUNNINGWOLF EZINE


  2. Thank you, Charles! WOOF salutes your sapience in these matters and enjoys your twitterings often! (“Tweets?” ) and anyhow, that’s a clear and inspired explanation of why Tom would’ve shot a traitor on the White House lawn if he ever had,..even though he didn’t…but we digress. Thanks for you comments, your literary work, and for your rockin’ RUNNINGWOLF EZINE (to which our readers may link through WOOF LINKS) and all we can add here in the WOOF cave is “amen!” –Ed.


  3. It was Rodney Cox who killed the first wife, Martha Eppes, of President Jefferson before he became a president March 4, 1801. Martha never became a First Lady. Thus,
    justice must be served, and Rodney Cox found his destiny.


  4. Hmmm—let’s see here—we know that Tom only married once, and that was to Martha Wayles Skelton. Martha’s mother’s maiden name was, in fact, Eppes, but if Tom married Martha Eppes he would have married his own mother in law, which would have been messy. Tom remained happily married to Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson until her death in 1782. She died after a lingering period of deterioration following her last pregnancy, and was never shot by anybody, including the notorious Rodney Cox. We checked to see if by any chance Martha Eppes (Martha Jefferson’s mother) was shot by Cox, or anybody at all for that matter, but she also died from complications following child birth. It seems the elusive Mr. Cox remains at large, but he sure gets a lot of ink on the Internet! –Ed.


  5. It seemed a little to Aparapro to be True it sounds Really cool though 🔫🔫


  6. Xighefjeo orj wokwp dkow pwk wodj d pdlwegjrknvmc qwkfwojf owk pf.


  7. Yes. I do indeed walk daily in Longview, Washington wearing my pistol openly.
    And I would urge every law abiding American to do the same. Criminals are cowards by nature and the open show of firepower gives them pause in being stupid.


    • Good on you, Gary! Here in Maine,new laws now make concealed carry another option available to our honest citizenry. There is no denying the statistical fact that where honest individuals go armed, criminal malcontents go elsewhere! –Ed.


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