Thomas Jefferson On Slavery


. . In 1776, Jefferson proposed a bill to end slave trading. In 1778 Virginia adopted it as law. In a biography written about Jefferson, it stated that, “The may session of the 1778 also, notwithstanding the exigencies of the war, was distinguished by a civil transaction which in intimately connected with the reputation of Mr. Jefferson and the honor of our country, namely the abolition of slave trade “(Coates).

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This bill proposed stern penalties for the introduction of any slaves into Virginia and provided for the immediate release of any that were brought in illegally.Virginia led by example and was followed by Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. “In 1794 congress of the United States interdicted the trade from all ports of the union under severe penalties” (Coates). It is also not well known that in Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence he denounced slavery and the slave trade. He has waged cruel was against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This practical warfare, the opprobrium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another (Jefferson).

Most people did not know that this passage existed because the Continental Congress edited it out. This hurt Jefferson very much. The passage also answers the question of whether Jefferson meant to include blacks in the language of the declaration. Another issue that has threatened Jefferson’s character is that of his alleged affair with Sally Hemmings. Jefferson has been accused of fathering one or more of her children. The first public accusation of this was in 1818 by James T. Callendar.

Although nothing was made of it, Callendar wrote in the Richmond Recorder, “It is well know that the man, whom it delighteth the people to honor, keeps, and for many years has kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves.Her name is SALLY”(Callendar). These allegations have continued long after Jefferson passed away. Most of these allegations were brought about from the descendants of Sally Hemmings.

Recent DNA tests have once again brought these allegations to the attention of contemporary Americans. The DNA tests provided [“strong evidence” suggesting that Thomas Jefferson was the “likely biological father”of at least one of the male children (Eston Hemmings)] (Coates).By just reading the headlines, one might be lead to believe that the allegations have been proven true. The blood samples were taken from descendants of Tom Woodson and Easton Hemmings, Sally Hemmings oldest and youngest sons respectively. A sample was also taken from descendants of Jefferson’s uncle, Field Jefferson. The DNA from each sample was compared and the results showed that the DNA from Easton Hemmings and Field Jefferson were a match and the DNA from Woodson did not match either of the other two. This is significant because it had been alleged, through oral family history, that Thomas Jefferson fathered Tom Woodson.

It proves that Sally Hemmings was not truthful in her accounts to her sons that Jefferson was there father. One explanation for the match in the DNA is that Easton Hemming’s father was a male relative of Jefferson.An article in the Washington Post discounts this theory. “No other Jefferson males were know to have spent substantial time at the estate”(Coates).

The point made was that they didn’t spend “substantial time” at Monticello, but proves that they did spend some time there. Upon a close review of the DNA evidence, one thing that comes to the forefront, the DNA tests do not prove, without a reasonable doubt, that Jefferson was the father of any of Sally Hemmings children. “Even the DNA evidence, while definitely scientific, is not at all conclusive, since it does not specifically identify only Thomas Jefferson as the possible father” (Coates). Natalie Bober, an award winning author, stated,” I think we must consider who Thomas Jefferson was. The idea that Thomas Jefferson could have had a young mulatto mistress in a house overflowing with young children whom he adored is inconsistent with everything we know about the real Thomas Jefferson”(Bober).

Thomas Jefferson was a magnificent man and a great statesman.His masterpiece, the Declaration of Independence, was the single most important episode in the development of the American ideal of equality and freedom. Although Jefferson was a slave owner, he denounced the institution of slavery and proposed the concept of emancipation. He led the way for the abolishment of slave trading. Many people call him a hypocrite; I call him a hero to America. His Declaration of Independence laid down the framework for the abolishment of slavery.

In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, which ultimately ended slavery, [He declared that not only the essential meaning of the Civil War, but also the national purpose itself was epitomized in Jefferson’s phrase, “all men are created equal”] (Will). In conclusion, Jefferson’s name has always been synonymous with that of slave owner. Jefferson struggled with this his whole life. On the other hand, he was indirectly instrumental in the abolition of slavery. “Jefferson had taken what was merely a national struggle, the American struggle for independence and cast it in rhetoric that made it a human struggle. And by doing so, he sowed the seeds of the end of the peculiar institution of slavery” (Will).Thomas Jefferson should be remembered as the founding father that arguably did more for our great country than any other man or women of his time. Bibliography Works Cited Bober, Natalie.

” Interviews by Ken Burns” 11 Nov. 98 Borden, Morton. “The American Presidency: Thomas Jefferson Biography” 19 Nov.

98 Callendar, James T. ” Sally Hemmings Accusation” 15 Nov. 98 Coates, Robert E. “Jeffersonian Perspective: DNA & Sally Hemmings” 15 Nov.

98 Coates, Robert E.”Life of Thomas Jefferson” 23 Nov. 98 “Constitution Distrubution: The Declaration of Independence” 11 Sep. 98 Jefferson, Thomas. “Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government: Racial Policy” Quotations from University of Virginia 9 Nov. 98 Jefferson, Thomas.

Autobiography Transcription 1996 by William Morris II 15 Nov. 98 Jefferson, Thomas. “Thomas Jefferson on Slavery” The American Revolution-an HTML Project 11 Sep. 98 Neligh, R.

D. Return to Common Sense “All Men = All Mankind” 27 Nov. 98 Vidal, Gore.”Interview by Ken Burns” 15 Nov. 98 Will, George. “Interview by Ken Burns” 15 Nov.