Problems of the United States in the 19th century
The fight for freedom in the young United States started as a cause for the then English colonies to gain independence from their colonizers, the English Crown. The Founding Fathers framed within the basic law of the young nation the desire of each man to be able to have the ability to determine their own path they wish to tread in their life. But what about the slaves in the colonies, those that were forced into servitude that was not of their own free will? What did then President Thomas Jefferson do to deal with this issue?
How would the President today, George W. Bush, compare with Jefferson? It is no secret that the majority of the Founding Fathers owned plantations in the United States, heavily dependent on the use of slaves and their attendant practices to sustain the operations of their estates (M. Ryan Williams, 2003). Slavery was a significant challenge in the society of the 19th century United States in that Jefferson, in the cause of gaining freedom for all their citizens was set against the primary hurdle to that freedom, which was the practice of slavery (Williams, 2003).
Jefferson believed that the acquisition of this freedom could not be realized even after the realization of independence (Williams, 2003). Jefferson was acquiesced with the practice and reality of slavery as he grew up in a plantation that did conduct slavery in his daily life (Williams, 2003). The practice of agriculture in the plantation system gave Jefferson his unique identity and this in turn molded their beliefs and notions about freedom by the later part of the 18th century and the start of the 19th century (Williams, 2003).
As the years of the period of Enlightenment spread across the colonies of the Old World powers, the old colonies of Portugal, England and Spain grew out of their dependence and sought to create the independence that was unique to their own stations (Williams, 2003). Why the discussion about planters and plantations? It was seen that the planters and estate owners, such as Jefferson, played key roles in the dramas that unfolded in the revolt of these former colonies against their former masters (Williams, 2003).
As one of the Founding Fathers of the fledgling nation, Jefferson became a unique icon, an amalgamation of the best and worst of the cause for freedom and democracy (Williams, 2003). On one hand, he led the move to establish the primary belief of the philosophy of freedom as it will be practiced in the United States (Williams, 2003). But in the same breath, he believed that the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is not a right that could afforded to all people, especially the slaves in the nation (Williams, 2003).
In 1769, he filed with the Virginia legislature a bill calling for the emancipation of the slaves, a move that both pro- and anti-slavery advocates used in their own causes (Williams, 2003). But it should be noted that Bill 51, as proposed by then House of Burgess member Jefferson, called for the end of the trade in slavery, not an end to slavery itself (Williams, 2003). In his later political salvos, Jefferson created ways to include interests in the name of justice, law, and need (Williams, 2003).
In the final draft of the Constitution, the term “slave” was omitted in order to gain the nod of southern and northern slave owners (Williams, 2003). But Jefferson was concerned that the newly freed slaves would not posses the needed tools to properly govern themselves (Williams, 2003). Also it is noted that the cause of the slaves in other colonies was to end a cruel and inhumane slave practice, as against the call in the American colonies to end British rule (Robert Parry, 2006).
As Jefferson was a plantation owner and the above mentioned fact that the practice of slavery was a main driver in the revolution against slavery, Jefferson feared that the slaves in the United States might be affected by the ideologies of freedom (Parry, 2006). He was afraid that slaves will begin uprisings if they get wind of the revolts in other Old World colonies, Haiti for example (Parry, 2006). The response of Jefferson to these struggles for freedom, and the attached idea of democracy, still reverberates through the politics of the United States (Parry, 2006).
In recent times, the exercise of the Haitians drew negative and hostile reactions from, ironically, the land of the free, the United States (Parry, 2006). When the Haitians elected left-leaning Jean Bertrand Aristide, the United States summarily ousted the Haitian twice-first by President George H. W. Bush, then by his son, President George W. Bush (Parry, 2006). But does that mean that Jefferson did not practice and embrace the tenets which he fought for in the Declaration of Independence and later in the United States Constitution?
Does that mean President George W. Bush is better in upholding the tenets of freedom? It was said that Jefferson declared that if the people live in fear of the government, there is the presence of oppression by that government; if the state fears the citizens, and then there is freedom (Democratic Underground, 2008). On the other hand, in the words of the current President of the United States, if the United States were a dictatorship, then he would have a easier time about it if he were the dictator (Democratic, 2008). References
Democratic Underground. (2008). Compare and contrast. Retrieved December 19, 2008, from http://www. democraticunderground. com/discuss/duboard. php? az=view_all&address=105×4715308 Parry, R. (2006). America’s historic debt to Haiti. Retrieved December 19, 2008, from http://www. consortiumnews. com/2006/020906. html Williams, M. R. (2003). The paradox of freedom: Thomas Jefferson, Simon Bolivar and slavery in the new world. Retrieved December 19, 2008, from http://discoverarchive. vanderbilt. edu/bitstream/1803/89/1/03WilliamsMRHHT. pdfSample Essay of Eduzaurus.com