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  #1  
Old 31 December 2006, 07:02 AM
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Icon402 Thomas Jefferson, killer

Comment: In the movie _Swordfish_, it is stated that President Thomas
Jefferson shot a traitor on the lawn of the White House. I have seen one
expert claim this is pure fiction, that it never happened. Another person
claimed it was true, that the person shot was a Rodney Cox from North
Carolina, allegedly convicted of giving naval secrets to the British. Did
Jefferson really shoot a man?
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  #2  
Old 31 December 2006, 01:10 PM
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Drat. I saw that as "South California" at first and had a pretty definate answer ready. Of course if it were that easy no one would need to ask.

From what I can see online, there doesn't seem to be a "Rodney Cox" in the 1790 SC census. Is there proof that the man existed and the contention is just on whether he was shot by Jefferson?

ETA: No, wait it's north. shoot. looking again... (Nope, still no Rodney)

Last edited by Tantei Kid; 31 December 2006 at 01:20 PM. Reason: mistake noted & Updated
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  #3  
Old 02 January 2007, 12:47 AM
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I'd certainly never heard this (though I am strictly an amateur at American history). Googling, the only definite reference I could find was this post on an obsolete Jefferson web forum, allegedly by a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, saying that it is in fact true, and adding a few details.. Further research seems warranted...
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Old 02 January 2007, 05:51 AM
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Well, even professional historians agree to disagree on these kinds of things, though. I'd get in touch with Monticello if you want to know for sure. They'd provide sources/citations if they're available.

The census records from the 1790s, by the way, aren't particularly accurate (or always easily searchable). They list male heads of households and overlook dependents. I've not been able to find people who I knew were alive at the time.
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  #5  
Old 20 April 2012, 07:23 PM
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Comment: Did Thomas Jefferson shoot a man for treason on the White House
lawn?

It's stated by John Travolta in Swordfish and Yahoo! Answers confirms it
(so far) with the following:

"Yes. It is true. During Jefferson's presidential administration, Rodney
Cox, from North Carolina was discovered in the act of providing former
Tories with information regarding the American naval forces capability to
secure American shores. After a brief ad hoc trial, Cox was convicted and
sentenced to death by firing squad. Jefferson, being a notorious
Anglophobic at the time, served as the sole member of the firing squad.
With a single bullet dispatched from a flint lock rifle, Cox received a
fatal wound. It took 10 hours for Cox to expire, during which he lay
prostrate on the White House lawn. Afterwards, he was committed to the sea
in a right proper burial, albeit, without any fanfare.
Source(s):
Robert Ludlum, PhD, American History, U. Wisconsin"

Other sources, however, completely deny any factual information proving
this to be true...
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  #6  
Old 20 April 2012, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemonaida View Post
I'd get in touch with Monticello if you want to know for sure. They'd provide sources/citations if they're available.
They think the story originated with Swordfish.
http://www.monticello.org/site/resea...ite-house-lawn
Quote:
We have no evidence that this event ever occurred: no such thing is ever mentioned in Jefferson's papers, or contemporary newspaper accounts. The story, as far as we know, originated entirely with the movie Swordfish (2001), where it is mentioned by John Travolta's character, Gabriel Shear.
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  #7  
Old 20 April 2012, 07:47 PM
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It seems hard to believe that Thomas Jefferson could have done something like this without it becoming common knowledge the way Andrew Jackson's dueling is.
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  #8  
Old 20 April 2012, 08:03 PM
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Yeah, "Robert Ludlum" seems to be the only guy confirming this on the web, and other than rumor-mongering about Jefferson's marksmanship, I don't think Ludlum actually exists. At least, he doesn't seem to have his own page as a professor at the University of Wisconsin. So basically the evidence for this story comes down to John Travolta and an apparently made-up PhD. who shares a name with the author of the Jason Bourne novels.
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Old 20 April 2012, 08:27 PM
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Sure Ludlum exists. However, he was dead before Swordfish was released.
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  #10  
Old 30 April 2012, 08:30 PM
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Can you say The Cox Conundrum? Sure you can.

Ali
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  #11  
Old 03 May 2012, 12:25 AM
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If Rodney Cox was indeed convicted as a traitor, it is unlikely that his execution by firing squad would take place on the White House lawn. It is also unlikely that President Jefferson himself would even take part in his execution, especially all by himself.

Rodney Cox may or may not have been real, but this account seems unlikely.

Barb Rainey
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  #12  
Old 29 June 2012, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
It seems hard to believe that Thomas Jefferson could have done something like this without it becoming common knowledge the way Andrew Jackson's dueling is.
It seems harder to believe anyone saw "Swordfish".
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