Thomas Jefferson did not believe in racial equality, and thought that blacks were intellectually inferior. However in one of the most important documents in American history is the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson himself, he says ”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by there creator...” Jefferson knew that his ownership of slaves contradicted his principles. What Jefferson wanted most was for slaves to one day be free, he wanted them to go back to Africa. He refused to grant freedom to his own slaves because of their significances to his wealth, but overall he condemned slavery.
In “Notes on the State of Virginia”, Thomas Jefferson decrees a few noteworthy notions. Jefferson writes that setting the enslaved people free will be problematic. He suggests that the slaves will never forget the torture, inhuman, and malicious treatment from the white colonizers, and they will seek revenge. This type of ideology is one of the reasons America tends to shy away from making black injustices headliners, or why America relentlessly searches for reasons to discredit a blatant act of violence against black people. It is the fear of Black people’s internalizing the “Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained;” that America (particularly white
About two weeks ago, in my GSTR110 class, I was given an essay to write on Thomas Jefferson. The essay was supposed to determine your view on Thomas Jefferson and if you think he is racist or not. We were supposed to read excerpts from his Notes on Virginia and determine his thoughts from there. Apart from that, we were also to determine the significance of slavery on black males today. Although I was not thrilled about writing on the third president of the United States of America, I knew I had to write it anyway. It was homework, required for a grade, and apart from that I was a writer and writers never back off from any work. So I went back to my room and began to read his excerpts from Notes on Virginia. The more I read it, the angrier I became. I got up from my bed and began pacing around the room. As if that was not enough, I threw my dictionary on the floor. It tore into half and only then did I realize that destroying my property out of anger would do me no good. The excerpt talked about what Jefferson thought of Africans and African Americans. He thought they were ugly, and thought they smelt bad. This is highly ridiculous and racist. This is not to say that there are no ugly black people, but it is improper to categorize a particular race in a derogatory way because of their skin color. As there are some plain black people, so are there plain white people. Every
In 1791 Benjamin Banneker, the son of former slaves, astronomer, and almanac author, wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson, in a courteous but forceful manner, challenging the framer of the Declaration of Independence and secretary of state on the topics of race and freedom. He touches on the topics of the way blacks were treated and seen by the common white American citizen and how it is an injustice. In his letter, Banneker uses ethos, logos, pathos, repetition, syntax, and juxtaposition to sympathize with Jefferson about former hardships to perhaps reach common ground.
In Benjamin Banneker’s letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1791, soon after the U.S.’s separation from Britain, he uses allusions and juxtaposition in describing the existence of slavery to show Jefferson that while he claims to follow American values of freedom and equality, he does not believe in allowing those same values to African Americans. Thomas Jefferson, the then secretary of state, is persuaded to put himself in the slaves’ shoes and have more compassion towards their oppression.
Throughout Jefferson’s notes, Jefferson goes on to explain that he understands that the very concept of slavery goes against his philosophy in which he instilled into the Declaration of Independence. As one of the father of our nation, we the people should expect our leaders to uphold certain standards when it comes to human rights of their vary nation. To quote our fathering document, 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 unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…” This however, brings up the point on whether or not Jefferson viewed the African slaves as “all men.” In the excerpt from his notes, Jefferson discusses that he believes that slavery should not exist but he also believed that once a slave is free, he or she can no longer live in the same society as one who which they have slaved for.
Tanaka took an in-depth view on the state of slavery after the American Revolution and the issues Jefferson faced as a result of the slavery of blacks and the ongoing presence of the Native population. Tanaka stated many truths about Jefferson's ideology throughout the secondary source that paralleled arguments apparent in the primary documents
In the article, Jefferson initially shows a concern for the African Americans. He expresses emancipating the slaves. He also suggested sending them to another country. Jefferson speaks on how all men are created equal and how slavery is not right.
Thus, no African American child would be born free in the United States. He or she would have been emancipated after he or she has reached the specific age, and then would have been deported to a colony away from his or her parents. Colonization in Africa allowed the two races to live and prosper separately, and notably with an enormous ocean that conveniently stretches many thousands of miles between the two continents. Jefferson believed it was crucial for this process to not only be gradual, but the colonization is truly what saved either race from annihilation. He continued to write, “deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made… will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of one of the other race” (Jefferson 669). In his mind, this emancipation plan was the only way for the two races to survive successfully, because if they lived together then the inherent differences between the supreme white race and inferior black race would cause
The philosophies of Thomas Jefferson are often at odds with one another. On one hand, he looks to enlightenment ideals and writes of natural rights and equalities for all men in his drafting of the Declaration of Independence (more on Jefferson’s and the Enlightenment can be found here). He also proposes legislature that prohibits the spread of slavery to new states. However, his role as a slave owner contradicts his philosophy on liberty in a profound way. His book Notes on the State of Virginia represents the depth of his thought against black people as an equal race to whites, and he includes a breakdown for the reasons that he believes integration is not a viable alternative to the problem of slavery (the full content can be read half way down the page here). Then, there are the facts surrounding his personal relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings and the children he fathered with her. This contradiction of attitude and philosophy is directly related to Jefferson’s cultural influences having grown up surrounded by slavery as an acceptable way of life. He ultimately falls back on society’s view of black people as inferior to justify his way of life, and calm his fears of the possible violent ramifications of emancipating his slaves (this is a reference to slave revolts). For more on this topic see my complete work here.
Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with slavery is a complex one. It is, perhaps, ironic to think that someone who owned slaves would be an advocate to end that very same practice. How can Jefferson be hailed as a champion for slave rights because of his opposition to slavery while, at the same time, using other people as property? Although somewhat contradictory at first, the nature of the relationship between Jefferson’s opinions and his attitudes towards slavery will be thoroughly examined in order to understand the means by which he helped fuel a revolution in the context of a society that was so dependent on slavery. In other words, Jefferson was a significant piece of the abolitionist movement, and so that the seeming differences between what he did and what he preaches can be understood, we must also analyze the historical context. By doing so, we find that Jefferson was indeed ahead of the times, although in his own unique way, and the reason why it might have been significant that he was a slaveowner while trying to end the practice.
The man who started criticizing him as probably the writer Leonard Levy’s in his Book “Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side”. In Chapter 14 “Hope and Heritage: Myth and Thomas Jefferson”, Gordon Wood really talks about Jefferson’s personal life. Thomas Jefferson is described as someone who had passion for partisan persecution, someone who didn’t care about the civil liberties, someone who thought he was morally perfect and used to judge people around him. In the chapter, they are comparing him to his friend James Madison. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t thinking about the country like Madison when he was taking decisions. While taking his decisions, he was mostly concerned about what his French friends would think of it than the needs of the American population. The main portion of Jefferson’s life, was his fight to abolish slavery. As it is written in this chapter, Thomas Jefferson hated slavery. He worked really hard to eradicate it in New Western territories. But apparently, he was never able to set all his slaves free. Many recent historians claimed that Jefferson’s acting toward Black people was very disgusting, revolting. Especially for someone who claimed that he wanted to eradicate slavery. During his life, he wanted to make sure that the eradication of slavery will be accompanied by the deportation of Back people of the country. For him, Black people living in a white’s man America was totally unbearable. He was “Racist”. In his
States rights were a thing that Jefferson was also very passionate about, as he believed that the central government was strictly meant to handle foreign affairs and that the states were able to govern themselves. Because of this, he strongly opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which he believed were a violation of states’ rights. In retaliation, he made the Kentucky Resolutions, limiting federal powers to what they were written in the Constitution. Although Jefferson was an avid supporter of common man, it seemed that he wasn’t as partial towards minority groups like Blacks and Native Americans. Jefferson owned slaves himself and had suggested removing Native Americans from their homes after the Louisiana Purchase.
But that is what Jefferson wants. He wants to live among rich people and be, or at least pretend to be as rich as them. So he decides “never again to speak to black people” (28) that he now considers as a waste of time and money, because they were always borrowing money from him and never pay back. Then, he used all his savings to buy a big empty house in Rosedale. What Jefferson never thought about is how he was going to fill up the house not only with furniture, but with friends and love. He found himself into an empty house, alone and lonely.
Thomas Jefferson is a man who really needs no introduction. He was recognized as a luminous writer who was appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence. Congress formally approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Jefferson owned many slaves that worked for him. He would often even sell his slaves to buy others. Why then would he write in the Declaration of Independence, “all men are created equal”? Is it possible that Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite and only wrote what the population wanted to see? Did Thomas Jefferson enjoy owning slaves just as his other wealthy peers did? Neither one of those is true. Thomas Jefferson thought slavery was morally wrong and he thought that it should be abolished. We will take a