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Thomas Jefferson on Civil Rights, Slavery, Racism Essay

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Updated: Feb 3rd, 2021

When you authored the declaration of independence, in what view were you looking at the American people during that year?

When I authored the declaration of independence of the United States of America, I was having a democratic perspective of the American people on my mind. The oppression of my people by Great Britain was overwhelming. Slavery was rampant, and paying taxes to the British without representation of the American people by an American was outrageous to the American people. It is because we were treated like second class citizens in our own country.

We wanted to be treated exactly like the British citizens because we were loyal to them. I felt that I had to write about how many Americans were jailed with no reason and how we were made to pay higher taxes. This declaration was meant to declare the independence of the first thirteen American colonies. I wanted to obliterate the tyrannical power propagated by Great Britain over the human mind (Jefferson & Beilenson, 1998).

What do you have to say to those responsible Americans according to the way they deal with the situation of human rights violations?

I am obliged to compliment all citizens who have approached the issue of human rights soberly during the period in which they interposed their authority constitutionally. Special tribute goes to those leaders who withdrew the citizens of the United States of America from all further participation in those violations of human rights. It is quite evident that the human violations have continued to be perpetrated by the British on unoffending inhabitants of Africa.

It is important to note here that the morality, the reputation, and the best interests of our country, have long been eager to be propagated (Post, Not Dated). I am not opposed to wealth as a reward for industry and talent. But the creation of wealth should not be done at the expense of the majority. There must be equality of rights amongst all American citizens (Yarbrough, 2006).

How will you continue to tackle the issue of slavery, taking into consideration that you have several slaves, and you have sired children with Sally Hemmings, who is one of them? What can you say about the contradictions now that it has become a public issue?

It is something of a cliché to suggest that each future generation will have to come to terms with my contradiction. It is nonetheless true, true because liberty and slavery are the twin poles of the American experience, and I embody them all in extremis. The darkest corner of my life has already been thrown open to public view. But one thing for sure is that I have set my record straight. I have done more good than harm in ending slavery (Post, Not Dated).

I am trying to create a world in which the very notion that one person can own another shall be beyond the pale of civilized human behavior. That is why I tend to disagree with those people who view me as a hypocrite. I suggest to every sober citizen of the United States to consider my record, and they will realize that although I have sired children with Sally Hemmings, I still hold the view that slavery is an abominable institution, an immoral practice, and fundamentally inconsistent with my ideas about the natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (Jefferson & Beilenson, 1998).

What is your view about racism, especially the black race?

Talking about racism, I have time and again emphasized that the only difference that distinguishes the whites from the blacks is color. The color differences between red, black, and white serve to get rid of the eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenance. A black often engages in hard labor throughout the day after which he is supposed to stay awake till midnight. He is also supposed to wake up at the first dawn in the morning to attend to his forceful duties (Voelker, 2006).

If I compare blacks on the aspect of memory, I can say that in memory, they are equal to the whites. However, in reasoning, they are kind of inferior because I think that it is hardly possible for one (black) to be found capable of investigating and understanding the investigations of Euclid. In imagination, they are not lively and are tasteless. I suppose that we accommodate them here just as fellow whites, and in instances of disparity of facts, we can form a particular judgment. It won’t be wrong to give them a benefit of doubt on the fact that they live in different conditions of education from their white counterparts.

Many millions of Africans have been confined to tillage, to their own homes and their society. However, many of them have been so situated in such a way that they could render themselves of the conversations of their lords. Many have been brought up by the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have always been associated with the whites (Voelker, 2006).

How do you view democracy? In your opinion, what is good governance, and what can you say that you have achieved and left as a legacy to future generations?

My zeal for democratic space has been exemplified when I resigned from Washington’s cabinet. That resignation gave me the necessary muscles to assume leadership of the Republican Party. This was the period during which there was a sharp conflict that had developed and heralded the formation of two ideologically polarized political parties.

I believe in good leadership and that is why I made several attempts to convince the Virginia legislature to fund the education of the most promising poor students so that they might be educated along with the wealthy. I also opposed the creation of a highly centralized government and, among other things, fight for the rights of other states within America. Even when I assumed the presidency, I had to reduce military expenditure. I reduced the national debt by cutting the budget. Some of my achievements also include the fight against pirates whose barbaric activities were affecting American marine commerce. I expanded American borders by acquiring Louisiana territory from the French leader, Napoleon.

My democracy consists of many elements including my tireless fights against the federalists. I call them monocrats and aristocrats. These are proud elitists and champions of politics resting on inherited wealth. This includes new, non-landed wealth or privilege. They expect that lesser men would differ from them according to custom. This is to say that the majority is not always right.

Why did you help Madison in the unsuccessful implementation of the 1807 embargo?

The 1807 embargo was meant to deal with America’s weakness against the British commercial strength and America’s vulnerability to European superiority in politics. Our policy sought to buy time. Madison and I took a different perspective of the British. We saw them as vulnerable to commercial coercion. This is because the British needed America’s grain surplus, and needed to sell manufactured goods overseas. Although Madison and I failed in the implementation of this policy, it too bought time.

How about freedom of religion?

I have a strong belief that all religions will flourish in America. There is no need for me to purport that it is a necessity for missionaries to disturb the already existing religions in other countries. This will distract their peace. For instance, if the Pope is to send his representatives to convert us from our own religious beliefs into their orthodox system, it must be considered as national aggression that is directed against our peace and religion (Coates, 1999).

Like I said before, we have solved the dispute that relates to the compatibility of freedom of religion with the rule of the law. We have been able to experience the serenity caused by the freedom given to everyone so that they are allowed to freely confess their faith. We have been given the liberty to worship the one who created us through any method that we think is compatible with His will. Above all, religion should be taken with enough privacy as the practitioner feels. The privacy is because it is purely a matter of concern between our God and our consciences. We are not accountable to the priests or the Popes or any other religious leader. We are accountable to our creator (Coates, 1999).

Reference List

Coates, E. (1996). Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Governance. Web.

Jefferson, T., & Beilenson, N. (1998). Thomas Jefferson: His words and vision. New York: Peter Pauper Press, Inc.

Post, D. (Not Dated). Words Fitly Spoken: Thomas Jefferson, Slavery and Sally Hemmings. New York: Temple University Law School.

Voelker, D. (2006). Thomas Jefferson on the African Race (Excerpted From Notes On The State Of Virginia, 1781). New York: Penguin Books.

Yarbrough, J. (2006). The Essential Jefferson. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc.

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