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Letters from Readers - December 2009 American History

Originally published by American History magazine. Published Online: September 24, 2009 
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The 9 Incredibles
Should any judges reign supreme? Chris Vandewinckel of Baltimore, Md., wrote that the Supreme Court dream team we put forward in our October cover story confirmed the fears that Thomas Jefferson expressed in an 1820 letter to journalist Thomas Ritchie: "The judiciary…is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric."

Mexican Firepower
Ninety percent of guns recovered from Mexico do not come from the United States. The statistic cited by President Obama ("Books the President Should Read," October 2009) is at best a manipulation of the truth and at worst, deception. The reality is simple. The Mexican government sent a very small percentage of all the guns it seized to the U.S. This percentage was suspected to have come from the U.S., and indeed 90 percent of those guns did.
Chad Carafa
Painesville, Ohio

We say…
According to Drew Wade, spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, "Over the last three years at least 90 percent of the firearms that Mexican officials have submitted to the United States for tracing…have been manufactured in the United States or imported into the United States." Wade declined to speculate on the total number and origin of guns seized at crime sites in Mexico.

Monticello's Rescue
A story left untold in "Monticello: The House of the Future" (October 2009) is that Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish commodore of the U.S. Navy, purchased it in 1834 and set about repairing it and reclaiming furnishings sold to pay debts. His nephew, Jefferson Monroe Levy, continued the preservation of Monticello until the house was sold in 1923 to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. This remarkable story of commitment by a colonial Jewish family to saving Monticello became public knowledge only in the 1980s.
Patricia R. Perrella
Tallahassee, Fla.

"The 9 Incredibles" (October 2009) stated incorrectly that there is no official portrait of the 1924 Supreme Court because Justice James McReynolds refused to sit next to his Jewish colleague Justice Benjamin Cardozo. Cardozo did not join the Court until 1932. McReynolds refused to sit next to Justice Louis Brandeis, who was also Jewish. Brandeis was appointed to the Court in 1916.

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