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Jefferson And Slavery Essay

952 words - 4 pages

Thomas Jefferson, the third American President and the author of the Declaration of Independence was born on a remote plantation in the State of Virginia, where he spent his childhood and youth (Miller Center 2014). Being an author of words “all men are created equal” (Jefferson 1776) and a proponent of abolishment of slavery, Jefferson, nevertheless, failed to undertake any steps towards emancipation over 40 years on a political arena (Magnis 1999, 492). His views on emancipation were not that simple, because Jefferson has insisted on liberation of slaves, which would involve provision of equality for blacks and whites in all spheres: “to declare them free and independent people” (Jefferson ...view middle of the document...

His position expressed in the letter demonstrates that Jefferson considered this legal division between states on the slavery issue to be the first step towards confrontation.

Later, the inclusion of the new territories in the U.S raised debates on their status in terms of slavery. Further polarization of the North and the South finally led to the cessation of the 5 slave states from the Union and formation of the Confederation in 1861 (Kelly, n.d.). Jefferson has foreseen such outcome of the official abolishment of slavery in one part of the country: “I considered it at once as the knell of the Union” (Jefferson 1820).

The importance of slavery on the South was familiar to Jefferson. Being a son of a plantation owner, Jefferson has inherited approximately 200 slaves, which he has never freed (Poplar Forest n.d.). Moreover, his political career before the presidency was closely tied to his home state, as he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for three years and later became the Governor of the Virginia (Miller Center 2014). Thereby, customs and notions established in the state, affected Jefferson’s views and especially his position towards slavery.

Either, his life in Virginia, where there was the highest number of slaves among all U.S. states in 1790 (Statistics of Slaves n.d., 132) or a good knowledge of his nation, or maybe their mix prevented Jefferson from any radical movements in the country that would undermine social stability. Jefferson has foreseen the outbreak of the Civil War, which “was the culmination of a series of confrontations concerning the institution of slavery” (Civil War Trust 2014) that would follow any serious social change concerning slavery. Awareness of the moral unpreparedness of his nation to such change made Jefferson believe that slavery in the country would vanish naturally and any external efforts will only...

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