I) Some important facts:
Born in Virginia. He was a philosopher, inventor, architect and was part of the Enlightenment elite. But above all he was a prominent political figure of his time. He is one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, inspiring himself mainly from Locke's Natural Right Theory, and later he will participate in the creation of the AmericanConstitution. He is of course the 3rd president of the U.S. He would later work as ambassador in France. He also doubled the size of the U.S. by buying Louisiana to the French.
As for his convictions, he was a slave-owner and also a very religious person naming God in all of his speeches, yet, he advocated for Human Rights and believed in the separation of Church and State. He believed of course inreligious, political, social and intellectual freedom.
He is the author of the all time American hallmark «life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness» trough which Jefferson spurs U.S. Citizens to achieve freedom rather than take it for granted.
His most famous book is Notes on the State of Virginia which is also considered one of the most prominent works of American literature from before the 19thcentury.
It is basically a collection of answers to the questions of François Barbé-Marbois, Secretary of the French delegation in Philadelphia. The book is written in prose and it is both: A compilation of data on various subjects such as economics, politics, nature, geography, the state of science and the arts in the State of Virginia & a vigorous argumentation about the nature of the goodsociety which Jefferson saw incarnated in his beloved State.
Jefferson captured in it his most memorable statements of belief in political, legal, constitutional principles such as separation of church & State, constitutional government and individual liberty.
He also tries to prove in his book that American nature is not inferior to that of Eurasia as stated by the Compte de Buffon in hisNatural History.Finally he also presents his hostility to slavery (will to abolish it) but still arguing that there were, and I'm quoting, “real distinctions which nature has made” between people of Caucasian descent and people of African descent.
"Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people [blacks] are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races,equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them."
--Thomas Jefferson: Autobiography, 1821. ME 1:72
He actually wanted “for the common good of Whites and Blacks” that the slaves be deported, educated, emancipated and colonized outside the U.S. And these are measures he considered to be reasonable. We mustn’t confuse theidea of ending slavery with a non-racist XVII century American society. The idea of racism didn't even exist at the time since it emerges with the idea of racial equality through the 19th century.
One peculiarity: Advocates Human rights, abolition of slavery but he is a slave-owner himself!
Jefferson's notes give an insight to the mentality and worries that American slave-owners had at the timeand to the stage of evolution that modern mentalities had attained at the time regarding differences between races. We mustn't forget that the collision between colonizers and Amerindians is also important and is perceived differently throughout the States.
II) Excerpt from Notes on the state of Virginia:
In the excerpt from the book, we can actually see this contradictions very clearly (1). Sohe's opposed to slavery and really denounces it as something awful. However at the same time he describes this tyranny as a tragedy upon those who practice it, like tragedy to the slave-owners and not like a decision and a conscious way of life (2). He makes a victim of both, the slave and the slave-owner of the circumstances that force both peoples to living together.
It would almost seem...
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