Berkeley is always good for a laugh, but it's too bad for those who claim to be Jeffersonian Democrats.
These people are completely ignorant and have no sense of this great man.
David G. Post
Temple University Law School1http://www.temple.edu/lawschool/dpost/slavery.PDF
"Jefferson did more to end slavery in the United States than anyone else in in the United States than anyone else in American history with the single exception of Abraham Lincoln (who, not coincidentally, took Jefferson as his guiding light)
I am sustained by Mr. Jefferson.
Springfield, Illinois, July 17, 1858
"He loathed slavery this great political and
moral evil, he called it in the only book he published in his lifetime, Notes on Virginia."
What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible, machine is man, he wrote for the entry for The United States to be included in Diderots great Encycolpedie in the mid 1780s,
who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment and death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment be deaf to all those motives whose power supported him through his trial, and inflict on his fellow-men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose.
"...in 1769, while a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Jefferson helped to draft a bill to allow for manumission by deed a procedure whereby slave-owners could transfer, by deed, their property interest in slaves back to the slaves themselves, setting them free. The bill eventually passed in 1782, and Jefferson by then the Governor of the new state signed it into law that year;
· as a fledgling practicing lawyer, in 1770, in his argument in the obscure case of Howell v. Netherland, which involved the freedom or enslavement of a third-generation mulatto, Jefferson had pled that we are all born free and that slavery was contrary to natural law an argument the court dismissed out of hand.
· Jefferson prepared not one but two drafts of a Constitution for the State of Virginia, one in 1776, one in 1783. The earlier draft would have prohibited the importation of slaves into the State: No person hereafter
coming into this county shall be held within the same in slavery under any pretext whatever. The 1783 draft went further: The General assembly shall not have to power to ... permit the introduction of any more slaves to
reside in this state, or the continuance of slavery beyond the generation which shall be living on the 31st day of December 1800; all persons born after that day being hereby declared free.
· As a member of the federal Congress in 1783-84, Jefferson drafted and submitted to that body a Report on the Government of the Western Territories, which Congress enacted into law as the Ordinance of 1784. It provided that after the year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty in any part of the United States outside of the original 13 colonies.
The slavery prohibition was deleted by Congress from the
final bill by a single vote. (Under the Articles of Confederation, which were then in effect, laws could be enacted only if supported by the delegations of seven States. Six States (Penn., NY, Conn., R.I., Mass.,
Maine) supported Jeffersons slavery prohibition; three (Virginia [Jefferson himself dissenting], MD, and SC) opposed it; NC was divided.
New Jersey would have supported the prohibition but its delegate, James Beatty, was ill and did not attend the session. Jefferson wrote later in his Autobiography:
Seven votes being requisite to decide the proposition
affirmatively, it was lost. The voice of a single individual of the State which was divided [New Jersey] . . . would have prevented this abominable crime from spreading itself over the new country.
Thus we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment! But it is to be hoped it will not always be silent, and that the friends to the rights of human nature will in the end prevail.
Jefferson introduced, Congress passed, and Jefferson signed, a bill prohibiting any further importation of slaves as of the earliest date the Constitution permitted: January 1, 1808.
Were the rights of all included in the Declaration of Independence?
Jefferson makes it clear by including the following paragraph later in the document, on the list of King George IIIsabuses and usurpations He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying
them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.
This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative
[i.e., his veto powers over Colonial legislation], suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he
is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges
them to commit against the lives of another.2
This passage, like the anti-slavery provisions in Jeffersons draft of the Ordinance of 1784, was deleted by Congress before final approval of the Declaration.
Some call him a hypocrite. What is missing from this charge -
Here's a man born to the upper class of VA, a gentry-man raised with slavery as a part of the culture, the inherent right to inherit, own them and "the way things are."
Yet, he had the moral fiber and innate sense of "justice" to write the words above to change this culture he was raised to believe he was entitled to.
Alas Jefferson eventually recognized the futility of trying in his time to end slavery but knew some future leader would arrive and seize the opportunity to eliminate that which he obviously loathed.