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Life and Times

Thomas Jefferson is seen as an important figure in America history because of all that he accomplished while at the same time, being witness to what was happening during the birth of this country. He is seen as interesting, and much has been written about the fact that many times, what he said and what he did, were not the same. Of the number of inconsistent ices in his life, the issue of race and slavery need to take center stage.

In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness , and yet he owned nearly two hundred slaves at one time during his life. It could be said that Jefferson was only talking about white men and therefore, this is not an instance of hypocrisy.

However, Jefferson did present to the Virginia state legislature during his tenure there, a statue to abolish the spread of slavery more than a dozen times; each occurrence being met with stiff resistance. Jefferson also wrote concerning slavery: “that I tremble for my countrymen when I remember that God’s justice does not sleep forever. ” But he never brought himself to freeing his own slaves.

George Washington freed his slaves as well as Thomas Jefferson’s own cousin and many of his fellow Virginians since the population of freed blacks rose from 12,000 in 1796 to 32,000 in 1810. Where is Thomas Jefferson? Have we come to expect too much from a man who might have just been a product of his place in history and environment? Or can we come to expect more from Jefferson and that he should be able to rise above his this impediment? America does not put ordinary men on the Nickel. We do not erect great monuments in Washington D. C. for ordinary men.

This failure to recognize the need for universal freedom simply within his own home serves as a major impediment in the hearts and minds of modern Americans towards a complete appreciation of Thomas Jefferson.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Burns, Ken. Thomas Jefferson. Boston: PBS Video, 1997. Engleson, Mary. Jefferson: Life and Times. Cincinnatti. 1991. McAuliffe, Terry “Thomas Jefferson. ” The World Book Encyclopedia. Vol. 9 Chicago: Field Enterprises. 1954. McCullough, David. John Adams New York. Simon & Schuster, 2002. Johnson, Adam. Documents of American History. New York. Primary Press. 1948.

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