Thomas Jefferson Essay

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In Notes on the State of Virginia Thomas Jefferson presents hostility to slavery and attempts to explain and justify American chattel slavery, by reference to what he called "the real distinctions which nature has made" between people of Caucasian descent and people of African descent. According to Laws, Jefferson held contemporary beliefs that Blacks were inferior to Whites in terms of potential citizenship, and he wanted them deported. However, discrepancies between his idealistic rhetoric and his actual practices, have come to dominate critical analysis surrounding Jefferson today. His phrase “all men are created equal” is often seen as inconsistent with his beliefs about specific groups specifically African American slaves. In Query XVI, Jefferson discusses the problems that the institution of slavery created in Virginia and how it affected the slaves. Written while Jefferson was the Governor of Virginia, his conclusions were based on an inquiry made by the French legation in Philadelphia and discussed several different aspects of life in Virginia. The article explains the reasons why Jefferson believes that freeing blacks would be detrimental to the state. Jefferson begins by explaining that it would be difficult to incorporate the slaves into the state because of the racist mentality that the institution of slavery had indoctrinated into the minds of white society. Jefferson argues that the "Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations, the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions, which will probably never end but in the extermination of one or the other race" (Jefferson 132). According to scholar Charles A. Miller, while Jefferson felt all humans were morally equal, he

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