A Slave Owner Against Slavery?

Essay by libragirlCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2003

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Jefferson: A Slave Owner Against Slavery?

Is it safe to say that the creator of The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, whom stated that ?all men are created equal,? could believe any differently? Or did he truly believe in equality for all man? While reading two opposite sides of the controversy regarding Jefferson?s stance to ?Bringing an End to Chattel Slavery,? two authors tackle this issue. The first author, Dumas Malone believed that yes, in deed, Thomas Jefferson was committed to bringing an end to slavery. Malone stated, ?Jefferson sought an end to slavery but realized that the duty of relieving the South of this moral stigma would lay with a future generation.? (159). The second author, William Cohen argued the opposite, that Jefferson really was a racist slave owner with no intention of truly abolishing slavery in his lifetime. Cohen stated, ?Jefferson?s world depended upon slave labor for its existence.?


How else better would it be to determine if Jefferson was really against slavery than to look back at all that he did to try to put an end to the ?deplorable? act. According to Malone, ?He [ Jefferson ] deplored the institution of slavery as unjust to its victims and injurious to the characters of its ostensible beneficiaries.? (160). Yes, Jefferson did indeed have his own slaves, but according to Malone, Jefferson ?did not believe that his own slaves were in constant misery [ . . . ] He clearly perceived that this contradiction could be resolved only by the abolition of legalized slavery.? (160). Jefferson did not like the fact that other people were treating their slaves badly, and believed the only way this would end was to abolish slavery.

According to Malone, Jefferson ?was one of the first Americans to propose a specific...