John Jefferson And Johan Von Herder Essay

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As slavery became a more divisive subject in American politics, justification was required for both sides to advance their interests. Much of the research by whites into the nature of black people in this time led to what is now known as scientific racism. With “discoveries” from both sides of the debate around slavery changing the way white people viewed blacks, both Thomas Jefferson and Johan von Herder present their case using nature, among other aspects to either reinforce or alter the view of slavery and black people in general. Thomas Jefferson, as a slaveholder and vocal politician of this time comments on many different aspects of black people, but all for the purpose of showing that fundamentally, they are weaker than whites and useful as slaves. White observers of race often focus on the difference in skin color, as it is initially the most obvious difference to whites. Jefferson describes blackness as an “immovable veil of black covering all the emotions (of black people)” as well as monotonous, showing not only his distaste for the skin tone, but also a color which hides their emotions, potentially indicative of dishonesty (Thomas Jefferson 1). In contrast, Jefferson sees white skin as better at expressing passion and general emotion. Hair too, is a recurring subject, with Jefferson saying, “(Blacks) have less hair on the face and body” as well as noting that white hair is more desirable (Jefferson 2). Jefferson’s stance is that beauty is a deciding factor in

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