Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rubenstein's Patriotic PEU Philanthropy

The AP reported:

One-time slave quarters will be recreated at Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello, and more of the Declaration of Independence writer’s living quarters will be restored using a $10 million gift from a philanthropist who has a keen interest in the nation’s history.

Mulberry Row, the community where slaves lived on the Virginia plantation, will be reconstructed with the funds. Monticello officials plan to rebuild at least two log buildings where slaves worked and lived and will restore Jefferson’s original road scheme on the plantation. The gift will also fund the restoration of the second and third floors of Jefferson’s home that are now mostly empty and will replace aging infrastructure.

Businessman David Rubenstein, the co-CEO of The Carlyle Group private equity firm, announced his gift on Friday night. It is one of the largest ever to the Monticello estate.

Thomas Jefferson was a pioneer in the use of leverage to grow his business activities, based on slave labor.   The Smithsonian reported:

It had long been accepted that slaves could be seized for debt, but Jefferson turned this around when he used slaves as collateral for a very large loan taken out in 1796 from a Dutch banking house in order to rebuild Monticello.  He pioneered the monetizing of slaves, just as he pioneered the industrialization and diversification of slavery.

The Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein perfected borrowing to buy companies, to fund dividends paid to sponsors (like Carlyle) and to minimize tax liability. He did so in an era where corporations became people.

Rubenstein told The Associated Press he has become a student of Jefferson in recent years since purchasing several copies of the Declaration of Independence and came to admire the man who wrote that “all men are created equal.
Jefferson went from "all men are created equal" to borrowing against his slave position.  He later refused to release his slaves, despite funding for such a thing from a dear friend's will.

Might such a gift ensure McIntire School of Commerce continues charging premium tuition and teaching private equity underwriter (PEU) ways?  Jefferson, it turns out, was a PEU pioneer.