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Defend Or Refute: Thomas Jefferson Was A Conflicted Intellect, Politician, Man, And Racialist. (Argumentative Essay Refuting The Aforementioned Claim; Works Cited Included)

3046 words - 12 pages

Thomas Jefferson's primary goal was to craft a new nation, an American democracy, where people could live free from tyranny. All of his actions were consistent with this principle. A quick glimpse at this multifaceted man leads one to see the slave owner against slavery, the strict constructionist who violated the Constitution to obtain the Louisiana Territory, or the anti-factionist who imposed the Embargo Act of 1807 on a democratic nation. However, upon a thorough evaluation of his own words, his thoughts, hopes, and fears regarding this developing democracy, one will conclude Jefferson was far from a conflicted intellect, politician, man, or racialist. In fact, he was quite content in his beliefs and morals. He knew exactly what he planned to accomplish for the United States, and he realized the importance of compromise in the development of those ideas. In his own words, "Every man cannot have his way in all things. If his opinion prevails at some times, he should acquiesce on seeing that of others preponderate at other times. Without this mutual disposition we are disjointed individuals, but not a society" (WTJ, Ford 8:76).In examining the writings of Thomas Jefferson, it is quite clear that time and time again his words are twisted and used out of context. Indeed, it may seem that Jefferson was a man of many contradictions, but he was not. His thoughts and actions were consistent, but there were times when he was constrained by the external realities that his position in life, politics, and time placed on him. The most significant external factors that cause Jefferson to appear conflicted are the issues with race and the Embargo Act of 1807. The only evidence that is needed to prove that Jefferson is not contradicting himself when he makes the claim "all men are created equal," is almost always omitted from history texts. The original draft of the Declaration of Independence contains a strikingly powerfulparagraph which reads:He [King of England] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant land ... captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere ... This piratical warfare ... is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king ... determined to keep an open market where MEN should be bought and sold (Peterson 238).His lashing goes on to mention how the king had suppressed every legislative attempt to prohibit the slave trade in America (239). This portion of the Declaration, due to South Carolina's adamant disapproval, was omitted from the final draft, but when one reads these words, written in full by Thomas Jefferson, one can see the outright fury he felt about the slave trade.Many believed that when Thomas Jefferson referred to "men" that he was specifically speaking of white males over the age of twenty-one. This notion is clearly false. Jefferson writes,Under the law of nature, all men are born free, everyone comes into the world with a...

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