Dumas Malone emphasizes the contradiction that Jefferson observed in human nature and in his native society. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first people to propose a plan on emancipation. He devised this plan while revising the Virginia laws during the American Revolution. His plan called for the freeing of all slaves born after a specific date. Thomas Jefferson did not believe that blacks and whites would be able to coexist because of deeply-rooted racist beliefs. Because of this belief Jefferson followed a policy of non-involvement in both local and state affairs during his term as president. Jefferson knew that his intervention might do more harm than good and knew that there was no hope for peaceful emancipation in any southern state during his lifetime. Since society used slavery as a crux, Jefferson knew that public support for any plan, no matter how rational or feasible would be hard to gain.
Despite all of Jefferson's private letters that Malone details, William Cohen paints a different portrait of Jefferson through his actions. As Cohen reports, Thomas Jefferson had no real desire to rid the nation of slavery, after all it was the very infrastructure of society both for the South and for Thomas Jefferson himself. This is especially apparent in the fact that Jefferson was unwilling to manumit his slaves and only emancipated two during his lifetime and another seven in his will. Of the seven, most were directly ascended from his father-in-law. It is apparent that Jefferson's unwillingness to liberate his slaves stemmed from his reluctance to alter his standard of living. In comparison to his... [continues]
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