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Jefferson on Slavery (1784)

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1 Jefferson on Slavery (1784)
Thomas Jefferson

2 Who is Thomas Jefferson?
Jefferson was born April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia Born of a planter/surveyor father and a mother of high social standing. Began attending school at the age of 9. At the age of 14, his father died, and Jefferson inherited 5,000 acres of land and dozens of slaves.

3 Who is Thomas Jefferson?
Entered College of William and Mary at age 17 where he eventually graduated with highest honors. This led to his career in law. Jefferson's public career began in 1769, when he served as a representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses

4 In the year of 1784… Jefferson submits his Report of a Plan of Government which set certain procedures for the entrance of new states. One of these included abolishing slavery in new states by 1800. The plan was ultimately rejected, and then revised one month later. Jefferson blamed southern representatives for the rejection of his original plan. During this year Jefferson also lived outside of the United States. (France)

5 Jefferson on Slavery Taken from Notes on the State of Virginia, it is considered one of Jefferson’s most relentless attempts for the justification of slavery. The work became Jefferson’s rebuttal to European criticisms of America.

6 Main Points Besides the obvious physical characteristics, other underlying physical characteristics exist that separate the two races into distinct categories. “They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odor.” “The circumstance of superior beauty, is though worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man?”

7 Main Points Jefferson, upon comparing the two races by memory, reason, and imagination, found the black man to be inferior to the white man. “But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above plain narration; never see even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture.” “Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry.”

8 Main Points Jefferson believed that the white man had a stronger moral sense than the black man. “And whether the slave may not as justifiably take a little from one, who has taken all from him , as he may slay one who would slay him?”

9 Class Main Point Perpetual degrading relations will continue to exist between master and slave due to imitation of our children. “Our children see this and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal.”

10 Questions How can the same man have written “All men are created equal”? “I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and of mind” How valid is Jefferson’s reasoning that nature, not condition, accounts for the absence of black poets under slavery?

11 Questions What damage does slavery do to the slave owner?

12 Historical Significance
This excerpt from the Notes on the State of Virginia demonstrates how Americans were indecisive on the issue of slavery.

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