A Free Man By Thomas Jefferson And Sally Hemings

1612 Words Oct 15th, 2015 7 Pages
Imagine living a life in slavery, where you have a limited freedom and society constantly looks down on you. If you had the opportunity to be a free man, would you take it or would you come running back to becoming a slave? Two of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves, James Hemings and Sally Hemings had to make this decision in 1789. James and Sally are part of a family that held various high positions at Monticello, Jefferson’s plantation. Martha Jefferson, Jefferson’s wife, was step-siblings with James and Sally. When Jefferson was called to be the U.S. minister in France, he called upon James to come with him to serve as his servant. Two years later, Sally followed accompanying Jefferson’s youngest daughter, Polly to France. While in France, James and Sally were considered free due to the “Freedom Principle.” This states that any slave who sets foot in France is now considered a free man. Jefferson chose James specifically to come with him to France because he knew that James wanted to be chef and France was the perfect place to enhance his culinary skills. Not only did Jefferson pay for James’ training but he also gave James a salary that was more than the average salary of anyone in his profession. There are those who believe that James’ loyalty to Jefferson was a valid reason to stay; however, I believe James unwisely chose to leave behind the booming city of Paris and his personal freedom. This paper will explore the factors that James considered to make his decision. First, I…
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