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Thread: Why Didn't Jefferson Manumit His Slaves?

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    Why Didn't Jefferson Manumit His Slaves?

    I was just reading about some college students demanding the removal of a Thomas Jefferson statue from their campus. In the course of the debate, the subject of Jefferson's relationship to slavery came up as it usually does.

    One point in particular was Jefferson's failure to manumit his slaves. The main theory being proposed by some of Jefferson's detractors was that Jefferson was just a big-ass phony who lied about everything.

    Of course, we'll never KNOW what Jefferson's true motivations were. We can only make inferences based on the evidence. But I think the evidence tends to support a different theory than the one being put forth by Jefferson's haters. I think Jefferson was a man who genuinely believed in the ideals he espoused, but who, for reasons of human frailty and imperfection, simply failed to live up to them. I think Jefferson's words and actions indicate a clear and genuine opposition to slavery as a concept and as an institution. However, as Jefferson would say himself, the best way to oppose it in the real world at that time was not entirely obvious.

    I'm not saying there aren't criticisms of Jefferson to be made. Everyone can be fairly criticized for something. Jefferson isn't off limits. Nobody is. I just don't think that particular criticism of Jefferson is entirely fair.

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    Jefferson did give some of his slaves freedom upon his death -- among them was his long-time mistress, Sally, and their mixed-race children.
    I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.
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    Imagine if our Modern Hero's, such as Barrack Hussein Obama, Hillary Clinton, Liz Warren, Bernie Sanders, AOC, Eric Holder, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Robert Francis O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, and any run of the mill Hollywood celeb had to be perfect human beings before being able to have input on our society.
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    He, or more accurately his estate, needed the money.

    IMO, it's a fool's errand to judge from 200+ years in the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FindersKeepers View Post
    Jefferson did give some of his slaves freedom upon his death -- among them was his long-time mistress, Sally, and their mixed-race children.
    Yes. He promised Sally Hemmings he would while they were still in France. Sally Hemmings trusted Jefferson enough to take his word and to return to the US with him even though she could have stayed in France where she was legally free. I think that is pretty good evidence that Jefferson was basically an honest person.
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    Jefferson was human. As the First Democrat, he was also a hypocrite.

    So...either his words that all men are created equal are an ultimate expression of the ideals that bind all men in society together, and should be pursued regardless of the personal character flaws of their aithor, and use those words, and the ideal, to forge a better society, or we throw away the words because the messenger is more important than the message.

    The Rodents want to throw away the message, because they themselves are disgusting spiteful racists.

    What they going to replace that ideal with?

    Something nasty and disgusting, of course.

    And racist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexa View Post
    He, or more accurately his estate, needed the money.

    IMO, it's a fool's errand to judge from 200+ years in the future.
    Yes, money was certainly an important factor. But I think there was also a paternalistic factor. Manumitting a slave at that time was not the most straightforward process. And the life of slave after being manumitted was not exactly full of bright prospects. I believe Jefferson also felt a sort of kinship with the slaves, both literally and figuratively. And that he felt he was protecting them by keeping them inside the protection of Monticello where they could be assured of physical security and even some degree of comfort.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    Yes. He promised Sally Hemmings he would while they were still in France. Sally Hemmings trusted Jefferson enough to take his word and to return to the US with him even though she could have stayed in France where she was legally free. I think that is pretty good evidence that Jefferson was basically an honest person.
    I think you're right. I think he and Sally were very close, but it wasn't acceptable back then to have relationships with blacks. Sally, however, from what I've read, insisted on staying and caring for him until he died. You're right, she could have remained in France and lived as a free woman, but she chose to come back with Jefferson and live as a slave.

    Jeffeson's contribution to our nation was enormous.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereal View Post
    Yes, money was certainly an important factor. But I think there was also a paternalistic factor. Manumitting a slave at that time was not the most straightforward process. And the life of slave after being manumitted was not exactly full of bright prospects. I believe Jefferson also felt a sort of kinship with the slaves, both literally and figuratively. And that he felt he was protecting them by keeping them inside the protection of Monticello where they could be assured of physical security and even some degree of comfort.
    From what I've read, this too, is likely true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sergeant Gleed View Post
    Jefferson was human. As the First Democrat, he was also a hypocrite.

    So...either his words that all men are created equal are an ultimate expression of the ideals that bind all men in society together, and should be pursued regardless of the personal character flaws of their aithor, and use those words, and the ideal, to forge a better society, or we throw away the words because the messenger is more important than the message.

    The Rodents want to throw away the message, because they themselves are disgusting spiteful racists.

    What they going to replace that ideal with?

    Something nasty and disgusting, of course.

    And racist.
    Jefferson believed those words and tried to implement them in the real world. Sometimes, he failed. So if Jefferson was a hypocrite, then so is everyone else.
    Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.
    --Immanuel Kant

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