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HIST 300: African American History (Slavery) > Thomas Jefferson > Flashcards

Flashcards in Thomas Jefferson Deck (35)
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What was Jefferson's central dilemma when it came to slavery?

he hated slavery but thought blacks were inferior to whites


What was Jefferson's personal involvement w/ slavery?

owned his own plantations

- keeping men/women/children fed/bed was expensive

- hated that his life depended on a system he despised


What did Jefferson's dependence on slavery for his income make him see slaves as?

more like objects in financial calculations


What was evidence that Jefferson sought a way out of dependence on slavery?

trying to transform his laves into tenants

- unfortunately financial considerations precluded actions


Where did Jefferson's hate for slavery come from?

from system of politics he was mentally invested in

- natural right philosophy was governing aspect of his theology


What was Jefferson's take on the natural rights philosophy?

he thought of natural rights in the very literal sense

- rights belonged to men as biological beings

- rights are inherent + inalienable

- to know whether certain men had natural rights one only has to inquire whether they're human


What was Jefferson's thoughts on whether slaves were considered humans entitled to natural law?

thought slaves w/o question are human beings

- knew they could never rightfully be enslaved

- felt personal guilt for slaveholding (for depriving men of rightful liberty)


What was Jefferson's take on the injustices of slavery?

not an injustice specifically to Africans but for any member of human species

- did not see cruelty but injustice

- recognized conditions of slavery as miserable but concern reserved for evil effects of slavery upon masters

- not overly concerned about slavery's effect on black men


What events was Jefferson especially horrified/scared of?

possible slave revolts

- wrote forebodings of coming takeover by slaves in the "Notes on Virginia"


What did Jefferson think about the rebellion that happened in St. Domingo?

troubled b/c he couldn't condemn it

- he was always receptive to revolution being used as a mechanism of change

- foretold of complete expulsion of whites in Caribbean

- St. Domingo merely the first chapter in domino of coming revolts to him


What was Jefferson's take on slavery at the Missouri Compromise?

adamant blacks should be free (fused obligation w/ future fact)

- said white men must liberate black men in name of justice/black men would liberate themselves in blood

- hitched fear of rebellion to antislavery cause


How was Jefferson's take on slavery in his youth?

had urged VA to pursue gradual emancipation

- wrote years later that VA wasn't ready for this program

- shrunk a large portion of his Notes on Virginia since it had strong antislavery expressions


How did Jefferson's anti-black theory clash w/ his hatred of slavery?

had genuine doubts blacks had inherent fitness for freedom

- firmly convinced blacks could never incorporate themselves into white society on equal terms


What were some of Jefferson's outlandish beliefs about blacks?

thought they were "naturally" different in temperament + mentality + physicality (environmentalist argument)

- required less sleep

- adventurous not out of curiosity but out of an innate lack of fear

- panic more than whites in the face of danger


What did Jefferson think of the mental capacity of blacks?

equal in memory but not in reason to whites

- have dull/unimaginative thoughts

- surrounded by European thoughts/ideas but have rarely adopted them for their own


What was the one thing Jefferson believed blacks were more gifted at than whites?



What does Jefferson think of the black artists who had rose to fame during this time?

did not prove blacks could be on equal footing w/ whites

- dismissed Phyllis Wheatley's poetry as elementary (not poetry)

- says Ignatius Sancho best writer of blacks but still puts him at bottom when including white writers

- suggest Sancho may not have written his work


What did Jefferson know about his environmentalist stance on blacks?

could make a case for black equality

- thus went to great lengths to prove black's lack of talent didn't stem from their treatment under slavery

- that they were just naturally inferior


What did Jefferson use to back up his environmentalist stance?

- said Roman/Greek slavery much worse than blacks slavery

- Roman/Greek slaves still had talent + demonstrable achievement


What sense did Jefferson feel was fully developed in both blacks/whites?

moral sense

- took environmentalist stance

- their disposition to theft that they've been branded is product of slave environment

- slaves have been stripped of all rights to own

- are they not justified in taking a little from someone who's taken all from him?


What was Jefferson's philosophy on the moral sense?

moral sense just as part of a man as an appendage

- to say blacks had moral sense meant Jefferson believed they had a soul

- moral sense might be temporarily impaired by slavery but blacks must possess it

- if blacks don't have this they can't be free (couldn't even be considered human)

- Jefferson did not make such a requirement for intellectual ability to qualify as human


What was the anti-slavery response to Jefferson's questions about black intellect in Notes on Virginia?

Jefferson faced massive criticism

- Gilbert Imlay said Jefferson's findings meaningless since it was a comparison between free men vs slaves

- Benjamin Franklin even said slaves environment limited their ability to acquire same social/intellectual traits as whites

- William Pinkney said blacks/whites share equal facilities in mind/body


Why was support for black intellectual capability gaining steam in the 1790s?

sudden rush of blacks who provided example of white intellectual equality

- Thomas Fuller known for mathematical capabilities

- Benjamin Banneker publishing the Almanac


What was Jefferson's response to Benjamin Banneker's accomplishments?

confused him

- tried saying Banneker's accomplishments were instance of moral eminence

- this explanation did not provide sufficient enough to say blacks were naturally inferior intellectually


How did the question of black intellect muddle Jefferson's philosophy?

derived belief in human equality from Creator shaping them all to their own mold

- couldn't get over belief that blacks couldn't be on the same intellectual plane as whites

- thus suspected Creator didn't make everyone equal after all

- took environmentalist approach to deficiencies of Indians but said black deficiencies simply nature


What was at the core of Jefferson's philosophy that blacks and whites could not be equal?

skin color

- the most physical difference Jefferson could point to

- white features were the ingredients of beauty

- blacks were obviously less beautiful than whites

- innately thought blacks more crude + whites more delicate

- blacks more sexually animalistic


What became a common use of evidence for Jefferson that pointed to black inferiority?

ridiculous beliefs he passed on as scientific fact

- picture of blacks as crude sensual beings always part of his argument


How did women play an important part in Jefferson's life?

- father died young was surrounded by women

- became very careful not to get to attached to women after the death of his wife

- appeared threatened by deep emotional connection w/ women

- had toxic beliefs about certain laws involving women

- thinking women could use threat of rape against men (women threaten masculinity)


How does Jefferson's takes on the sexual temptations of women play a part in his philosophy on blacks?

- he was greatly concerned about blacks "lack of beauty

- most of his remarks regarding sexual proclivity of blacks were specifically geared toward black women

- surprisingly negative remarks given his relationship w/ Sally Hemming


Who was Sally Hemming?

slave owned by Jefferson who fathered several of his children


What was Sally Hemming's life like on the Jefferson plantation?

seemed to receive favored treatment

- was strictly a house servant

- all of the slaves freed by Jefferson were Hemings

- none of her children retained as slaves in adulthood


What can one point to about Jefferson's philosophy surrounding blacks now knowing his relationship w/ Sally Heming?

opinions could have simply been outward repressions of desires


Why did Jefferson put such great stress on separating blacks/whites b/c of their physical differences?

mostly came from his perception of the world connected to views of opposite sex

- regarded world of men very distinct from that of women

- had predilection for bifurcating gender + race

- would be seen in his political philosophy as well (ex: thought of political parties on two extremes)

- felt there was no middle ground between Federalists vs Republicans


How did Jefferson's dichotic view to the world play into his philosophy on blacks?

ex: thought of Indians highly distinct from blacks

- Indians did not resemble whites in the slightest but perceived whites as degraded version of whites

- made three race system into a two race system

- Indians to Jefferson were noble + brave (came to their defense in the Notes on Virginia)

- were surprisingly good orators/writers compared to blacks

- had much better imagination than blacks

- said Indians were physically not inferior to whites (like blacks were)

- actually had a somewhat environmentalist defense stance when it came to explain some Indian deficiencies


What was Jefferson's perception of Indians?

wanted to "Americanize" them by bringing them into European society more

- thought of Indians as "brothers" + Negros as "lepers"