Thomas Jefferson Essay

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Thomas Jefferson spent his entire life in the company of African-American slaves. Jupiter, born in 1743 (the same year Jefferson was born) was his childhood companion. He later became Jefferson’s personal servant, traveling with his master all over Virginia. Slaves accompanied Jefferson to Philadelphia, where he wrote the Declaration of Independence. They sailed with him to France, where he was a diplomat. Over his lifetime, Thomas Jefferson owned over six hundred slaves. When Jefferson was twenty-one, he inherited about thirty slaves from his father. Later, he inherited 135 more from John Wayles, his wife’s father. By 1796, Jefferson owned about 170 slaves. At Monticello, Jefferson and his family were surrounded by African Americans. They were necessary for running the 5,000-acre plantation, which consisted of four separate farms. Enslaved workers plowed the fields, planted the wheat, drove the wagons, cared for the livestock and constructed the buildings. In the house they stoked the fires, prepared the food, washed the clothes and cared for the children. The lives of Jefferson and his family were entwined with the lives of his enslaved workers. Edmund Bacon, Monticello’s overseer for sixteen years recalled that Jefferson “was always very kind and indulgent to his servants. He would hardly ever allow them to be overworked, and he would hardly ever allow one of them to be whipped.” But by law, Jefferson’s slaves were his property. And he treated them as property. When circumstances required it, he bought and sold them, gave them as wedding gifts, and hired or leased them out. Slaves who refused to obey were punished and some were sold “South.” And Jefferson granted only seven slaves their freedom. Jefferson’s Views on Slavery Jefferson lived during a time when slavery was a well-established and accepted system in many countries. By the time he

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