Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Slavery Term Paper by Nicky

A discussion on Thomas Jefferson's view of slavery and whether he can be considered a hero or a hypocrite.
# 150405 | 1,858 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2012 | US
Published on Feb 10, 2012 in History (U.S. Before 1865) , African-American Studies (Slavery)

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This paper aims to discuss the dualism between Jefferson's perceptions on slavery and his own actions and analyze some of his writings in order to obtain a better understanding of his beliefs on slavery. Among the texts tha tare analyzed are "A Summary View of the Rights of British America", the Declaration of Independence and "Notes on the State of Virginia". The paper also look at his relationship with Sally Hemings, one of his own slaves, on whom he fathered several children.

Analysis of Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson
A Summary View of the Rights of British America
Declaration of Independence
Notes on the State of Virginia
Query XIV: Laws
Query XVIII: Manners
The Sally Hemings Case

From the Paper:

"For Jefferson, as an enlightened philosopher, proclaiming the equality of all men was obviously easier to do on paper than enact at the level of the entire new nation. The problem was political: the states in the south especially relied on slavery as a way of life and abolishing slavery at the same time as declaring independence from the British Empire might have produced a division between the thirteen colonies. This could, in turn, have led to the demise of their independence effort, something which Jefferson would not have. Further more, the Constitution proclaimed the "sacred right of self-government", which meant that antislavery was not something that could be easily implemented at a federal and national level. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Armitage, David. The Declaration Of Independence: A Global History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2007
  • Koch, Adrienne, Peden William. The life and selected writings of Thomas Jefferson. Modern Library. 1998.

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