Slavery had started long before Jefferson was born in 1743. It had existed in Virginia for almost a century. Jefferson was brought up on a plantation with workers who worked as slaves. As an adult, he later…
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As the president, he signed a bill outlawing the slave trade.
Though Jefferson knew the negatives of slavery, he continued having slaves who worked for him. He only freed seven of his slaves who were all members of the same family at Monticello (Peden). Jefferson feared for his survival economically and the safety of whites due to former slaves who had been subjected to the harsh working conditions by their former masters. Later as an older man, he advocated freeing and returning all slaves to Africa. Jefferson’s life and words show moral contradictions.
In 1834, Fanny Kemble an American actress married Pierce Butler, who owned hundreds of slaves who worked on his family’s farm in coast Virginia. She lived there for nearly a year and came to the reality of slavery. She kept a journal while on the farm indicating the living and working conditions of the slaves. After her divorce, she published the journal stating what she learned from slave women who visited her. In her diary, she highlighted how women were overworked and how their working condition was. In one particular time, she wrote how one woman had lost her family due to “ill luck” due to abuse. They came to her in the belief that she would be of great help in airing their grievance as her husband does what she asked though he forbid her from bringing him complaints from the slaves (Kemble).
She stated how the women were not given time to childbearing, and they were supposed to resume their farm duties immediately after childbearing. They begged her to talk to her husband though they knew it was impossible. She states how almost every woman has lost their children due to heavy work and no care. The enslaved woman narrated their woes at ease as it has become their day to day lives, but they believed their suffering were all n their days work (Johnson).
The journal portrays the use of abuse, mistreatment causing bodily
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(“Thomas Jefferson on Slavery and Race - Notes on the State of Virginia, Book Report/Review”, n.d.)
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(Thomas Jefferson on Slavery and Race - Notes on the State of Virginia, Book Report/Review)
“Thomas Jefferson on Slavery and Race - Notes on the State of Virginia, Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1696423-thomas-jefferson-on-slavery-and-race-notes-on-the-state-of-virginia-1782.
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