Talk:Thomas Jefferson

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Former good article Thomas Jefferson was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Minister to France[edit]

@Djkeddie: -- The Minister to France section is a bit of a mess, including the placement of the latest edit. The section redundantly mentions that Jefferson took his daughter Patsy to France with him in 1784. In the first instance there is a 'note' that mentions Hemings was one of the servants that came along. In the second instance it again mentions that slaves went along to tend after the children, only this time, it's near the end of the section, out of chronological order. Other statements are thrown together in chronological disarray. The latest edit needs to be trimmed down and introduced near the beginning of this section. The section says next to nothing about Jefferson's official activities in France, doesn't mention that he became fluent in French there and doesn't even mention that Lafayette was a friend and guide for Jefferson much of the time. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 18:06, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

I've made an attempt to clean up the section by eliminating the various redundancies and providing a more chronological narrative. Djkeddie (talk) 18:52, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
Section still needs a little work, but looks much better. Thanks. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 02:10, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Jon Meacham perspective on Jefferson and slavery[edit]

My source is Jon Meacham (2012) Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, pages 173, 474-478. Meacham (2012) presents Jefferson as "practical politician" rather then a "moral theorist" concerning slavery. Meacham (2012) also stated Jefferson was "wrong about slavery". Should these views be incorporated into the article ? Cmguy777 (talk) 05:13, 8 September 2014 (UTC)

That is the thesis of Meacham's book, that Jefferson was a practical politician, and Meacham applies it to a host of topics. I should think it is reflected wherever Meacham is cited in the article, including sections addressing slavery. If it is not, it should be, so as to faithfully report Meacham's scholarship.
Jefferson, speaking in 1820s about slavery as a debilitating legacy restricting individual development and expression in the racist society of his day, was certainly wrong in that we now know that the United States by 2014 has been proven to be a well functioning racially integrated nation, politically, economically and socially. I think it is fair to say that is the historical consensus of reliable sources. Though some would assert that there are still some residual race-based problems to a degree, such as in Ferguson, Missouri, last month. How is "Jefferson was wrong about slavery" to be incorporated in the article, in the context of what time? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:40, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Meacham (2012) discounts Jefferson's earlier anti-slavery sentiments and legislation. I believe Meacham (2012) is refering to 1819 the time of the Missouri Compromise. Meacham (2013) could be refering to Jefferson's view that racial equality would lead to a race war. There was no race war during the Civil War. Slaves did not rise up against their masters. This probably has more to do with conservative white American society who chose not to incorporate blacks as citizens. Jefferson always had to deport slaves in his emancipation plans. Ferguson, Missouri is another subject possibly beyond the scope of this discussion. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:36, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Didn't we have discussions about cherry picking one source to make the same sort of statement you've been trying to make all along? Given the divisive speak you've used above it would appear so. When you speak of a ""racist society" would that also include African Americans? Yes, the Fergueson issue has nothing to do with issues 200 years ago, and it seems like you only mention it now to emotionally woo people into support here. Again, we need to speak in terms of established facts. If we're going to start including speculations from cherry picked sources, then this opens the door to all speculations. Got any new facts? -- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:08, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
@Gwillhickers: Please direct your comments to specific editors. I did not state "racist society". That was the TheVirginiaHistorian. I also did not mention the Fergueson, Missouri incident. That was the TheVirginiaHistorian. With that said I beleive TheVirginaHistorians comments were in good faith and not intended to be divisive speak. I was not "cherry picking" any source. Meacham (2012) represent highly acclaimed (Pulitzer Prize) modern research. I gave the page numbers of this source. You have not addressed my central question as to whether Meacham (2012) views on Jefferson and slavery should be incorporated into the article. Cmguy777 (talk) 16:28, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
@Cmguy777, Gwillhickers: Just so we may be on the same page,
Meacham (2012) p. 174, “After an early legal and legislative life attempting to abolish slavery, Jefferson, now at midlife, made a calculated decision that he would no longer risk his “usefulness” in the arena by pressing the issue…To have pursued abolition, even ... with deportation [to a free and independent life without white racism in Africa], was politically lethal. And Jefferson was not going to risk all for what he believed was a cause whose time had not yet come.“ It was lethal because of Southern fears of race war such as Haiti's, with domestic examples of Gabriel Prosser and Denmark Vesey, along with numerous reports circulated of poisonings and arson attributed to dissatisfied slaves.
Meacham (2012) p. 474, refers to “slave interests” contending for Missouri in 1819, “To Jefferson it was the worst of hours. He knew slavery was a moral wrong and believed it would ultimately be abolished. He could not, however, bring himself to work for emancipation.” p.477 “A multiracial society was beyond his imagination…” On page 478 Meacham refers to the “Southern interest” of Jefferson’s political commitment, “his personal home and political base." I’m not sure Meacham characterizes any governing slave-holder group in 19th century Virginia as “conservative white American society”.
Meacham (2012) p.477-8. Emancipation had been bought about by individual slave holders such as Robert Carter in 1791 in Virginia “in his lifetime in lands he knew intimately. Jefferson was wrong about slavery, his attempts at reform at the beginning of his public life notwithstanding. Here again…we see Jefferson the practical politician was a more powerful persona than Jefferson the moral theorist…And so he did what he almost never did: He gave up.” Seventeen years into his retirement, Jefferson simply conceded in 1825 that his emancipation-deportation plan was not practical for the foreseeable future in a letter to Frances Wright. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 17:28, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
@Cmguy777, TheVirginiaHistorian: -- Cm', please accept my apologies, I obviously responded before I noticed the signature, given the many past debates where you have made repeated use of such terms. In any case, we can ponder speculations from both sides of the fence just so long as they don't overshadow established facts and the many actions and writings of Jefferson regarding slavery. Once again, the biography already mentions the divided historians and their many opinions, which is why it's important to include as many established facts as possible. Jefferson did consider both moral and practical factors, and as we know, sometimes conceded moral considerations for practical ones. We also know Jefferson made several attempts to introduce emancipation legislation and was defeated, mostly by Congress, which doesn't change the fact that Jefferson's moral convictions against slavery grew throughout his life, as more than enough sources have articulated. Seems we go down this road at least twice a year. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 17:38, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
@ Gwillhickers. Apology accepted. In my opinion stating "historians disagree" leaves the reader in confusion. Why not mention that Robert Carter freed his slaves in article as a contemporary comparison for Jefferson. Meacham (2012) is simply pointing out that Jefferson was practical politician, not wanting to rock the boat of slavery, in effect a conservative. Cmguy777 (talk) 19:29, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Part of the difficulty arises in taking Meacham’s assessment “Jefferson was wrong about slavery” at face value. Emancipation was possible within the slave society, and so in that sense Jefferson got the short run consequences wrong. Although since Carter freeing his slaves in 1791, Virginia statutes required exiling any slave freed by manumission. So Meacham’s parallel is misplaced in time. Jefferson's political environment in 1820 was not as conducive to efforts at emancipation which had been available in Revolutionary Virginia.
For Jefferson taking the long view, individual liberty and potential in the racist 19th century milieu was not attainable for the freed individual in the same way Jefferson imagined for the freedman with emancipation and repatriation to Africa. Jefferson’s concern was not only for the form of freedom, or black removal on emancipation as required under existing 1820s law, but for the practice of freedom by the individual in society, politically, economically and socially over the course of a lifetime. And that would not be achieved until white racism abated, North and South, some time into the future. So in that secondary sense, Jefferson got the consequences of slavery in white society for the freedman right. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 21:24, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Jefferson could have freed his slaves in 1791 at the same time Carter freed his slaves. Carter did. Jefferson did not. That would be in line with Jefferson being a practical politician. Cmguy777 (talk) 22:48, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
Actually Robert Carter freed 452 slaves in his lifetime. Jefferson freed two slaves in his lifetime. That is a signifigant difference. Cmguy777 (talk) 22:53, 8 September 2014 (UTC)
There's a significant difference only if you take it no further than this simple math example. There are other considerations. Many others. If you read the biography carefully, there shouldn't be any confusion. Speaking of (real) voids in the biography, it doesn't say anything about Jefferson's slaves returning from France with him of their own free will -- even when French law allowed them to remain there. Do you wonder why? Not me. Once you get over the 60's stigmas and all the peer/guilt driven hype it brought with it, it's not difficult to figure, given Jefferson and life at Monticello. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 00:03, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Carter was not a politician but Jefferson was. That could be another difference. I believe Carter should be mentioned in the article. Cmguy777 (talk) 02:21, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
I oppose mentioning Carter because this article is about TJ, not about manumission. We should tell about TJ, not compare him to others.
But while we're comparing here on the talk page, one of the many "other considerations," as Gwillhickers put it, is that Carter was far wealthier than Jefferson. He freed all his slaves and still died rich. As has been stated over and over here, TJ could not afford to free his slaves. (Trivia: at one time Carter was one of TJ's creditors.) Yopienso (talk) 04:28, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Agree with Yopienso, and I would add that while we're making comparisons to an other individual in some attempt to shed light on Jefferson's character, I would ask how did Carter treat and provide for his slaves? As well as Jefferson did? Or should we evaluate Carter the man without any comparison to Jefferson -- and vise-versa? We should abandon this 'comparison' routine altogether and just present the facts. They tend to speak louder, and more clearly, than opinion. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:08, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Why should we compare? Because Meacham (2012) compared Carter to Jefferson in his book Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. This is evidence that Jefferson was a pragamatist rather then a moral idealogist, i.e. Carter. I believe the comparisons would work great in the article. Meacham (2012) states that Jefferson did live in a world of abolition and that Jefferson did not hold the contemporary values of his times. He was conservative. Carter was a Founder. The subject is abolition not necessarily how wealthy Carter was nor the way Carter treated his slaves. Cmguy777 (talk) 06:19, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

boom boom boom goes cm and the slavery drum Brad (talk) 15:56, 9 September 2014 (UTC) ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

edit break1[edit]

Jefferson, more so than many others, advanced the contemporary values of his time, as is well covered in the biography. He was among the first to advance the idea of abolition. Jefferson was considered a liberal in his day -- not just for slavery but religion and politics also. Your use of the term 'conservative' is, once again, wholly presentist. There is plenty of evidence that Jefferson was a moralist as well as pragmatist as was explained already. The two are not inseparable. In the real world practical considerations often take precedence over moral ones and Meacham, typically, only gives us new opinion, not new evidence. Of course, if you want to sell history books about early American history in this day and age you need to include more than the established facts that have been well documented and articulated by many dozens of other historians. i.e.You need to fill it up with rhetoric and controversial opinion that will turn heads and agitate people. Unfortunately that's what sells in our entertainment addicted and racially charged society. We need to move on, Cm'. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 15:38, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Meacham (2012) is not stating Jefferson was immoral, rather that he was a pragmatic politician. Carter would have been the moral idealist. Yet Carter was not a politician. Meacham (2012) discards Jefferson's previous anti-slavery legislation attempts. He does acknowledge that the North West Ordinance of 1787 was a partial victory for Jefferson in terms of anti-slavery response. Cmguy777 (talk) 17:18, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Meacham discards Jefferson's previous anti-slavery legislation attempts?? IOW, Meacham cherry pics the facts to suit his opinion. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 17:58, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
But Carter was concerned only with his own affairs. What he did was properly called manumission, he did not advance it as emancipation in a general system reaching every corner of society, as Meacham seems to transform it in his argument. Is it proper to say Meacham discards Jefferson's previous anti-slavery legislation attempts? Meacham notes them with approval. Likewise Jefferson's eventually self-acknowledged unattainable plan of emancipation-deportation might be called more properly emancipation-repatriation, as it sprang from Enlightenment motives of concern for the individual freedman's liberty in self-government away from artificial societal restraints of the past, such as white racism.
As Meacham noted, for the purposes of his analysis and conclusion on slavery, Jefferson himself lived in a racially integrated society at Monticello, so full emancipation and racial integration should not have be beyond his imagining in the larger Virginian society. But some historians will disagree with Meacham's benign characterization of labor relations on Jefferson's plantations. Others may take exception about Meacham's assumption that Virginian society generally in the early 1800s was as fertile ground for such a sweeping reform that Meacham supposes as the happy condition of blacks and whites in Jefferson's extended "family" at Monticello.
In Jefferson's neighbor and political ally, Edward Coles', experiment freeing all his slaves on his immigration to Illinois, Coles chose to remove them into Ohio exile for their benefit rather than chance life in Virginia as freed slaves. Jefferson famously considered spreading out black populations as a means to encourage emancipation. How is Coles example substantially different from Jefferson's proposals from the individual freedman's point of view? Later legislation in Illinois banned free blacks from entering, but not so in Liberia. It may be for the best that emancipation came when and how it did; "what if" history is not good scholarship. In any case, I am not sure we can fairly reflect all the nuances of reliable schools of historiography regarding slaves and slavery here in a summary article on Jefferson. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 18:47, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Which is why it's best to concentrate on the facts and let readers make their own speculations. -- On my way out the door. More later. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 18:59, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Monticello was racially integrated but the African Americans were enslaved and did not have citizenship rights. There were no laws that gave slaves any rights and were considered property of their masters. Cmguy777 (talk) 19:17, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
To keep this discussion focused here is a proposal sentence:
Jefferson did not support the ideology of abolitionists, as his contemporary Robert Carter, rather for political, racial, and practical purposes he believed gradual emancipation and deportation was best for slaves. Cmguy777 (talk) 19:17, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Alternative 2. Jefferson personally supported individual manumission in Virginia, but the laws limiting the freeing of slaves became increasingly restrictive even at death, making gestures such as Robert Carter's impossible by the early 1800s. Additional Virginia legislation required the forceable expulsion of freed blacks within a year of their emancipation. While his neighbor Edward Coles successfully freed all his plantation's slaves into exile in Ohio and Illinois, by 1825 Jefferson acknowledged his plan for gradual voluntary emancipation, training, funding and repatriation to Africa was not attainable for large numbers in the near future. [note]Liberia's struggling settlement established a Constitution in 1825. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 19:47, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
Alternative 2 in my opinion is misleading. Jefferson freed two slaves during his lifetime while Carter freed 452. That is a signifigant difference. Also manumission is not the same as abolition. Jefferson did not support or embrace the ideology of abolitionists. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:00, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
  • @Cmguy777: - Jefferson not only supported the ideology of abolitionists, he contributed to that ideology, evident in his writings and actions, which is what motivated him to advance abolitionist legislation and oppose slavery his entire life. Comparing Jefferson to Carter in such a narrow mathematical sense is grossly misleading, intellectually delinguent and only plays on the emotions of the ignorant who subscribe to the 60's flat-earth version of slavery in America. Jefferson believed releasing slaves, who by an large had no place else to go or any means to support themselves, into American society, was counter productive to their well being, to say the very least. Jefferson also didn't want to burden his family with a tremendous debt. While we're making comparisons, we should also compare Jefferson to those slave owners who treated their slaves cruelly, neglected providing for them in a humane way, didn't release a single slave and never even gave the prospect any serious consideration, as did Jefferson. If we're going to compare Jefferson to others, let's be fair about it. Cherry-picking one wealthy slave owner who could afford to release many slaves is misleading, and Cm, I believe you're smart enough to know this. And what became of Carter's slaves? Did they go out and find jobs and buy farms and ranches? Do you even know? Seems all you want to do here is compare Jefferson to one solitary number out of context. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 21:21, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
  • @TheVirginiaHistorian: -- I generally agree with you here, and as usual, your depth of knowledge and broad perspective on this complex topic is impressive, but I fear we're getting away from the biography a bit. I believe all the additional info on legislation, laws, etc would be better placed in the Thomas Jefferson and slavery article if it's not already there. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 21:21, 9 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Let's not forget the discussion we had back in February.
According to Jefferson's main overseer of slaves, Edmund Bacon, freeing his slaves was something Jefferson had always wanted to do. However, since Virginia law didn't allow slave owners who were in debt to free their slaves, allowing creditors to seize them, Jefferson who was heavily in debt was forced to have his slaves sold after his death.
i.e. Jefferson had no choice. If we're going to add anything to the already large Slaves and slavery section it should be along these lines, not some out of context number regarding one wealthy slave owner who could afford to release slaves and wasn't bound by law not to do so. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 21:45, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

@Gwillhickers: Why is there so much hostility to Meacham (2012) as a source. Meacham (2012) compared Jefferson and Carter. Jefferson was under the same laws Carter who used the laws to free over 400 slaves. By comparison Jefferson only freed two slaves. The earlier 1782 law allowed Jefferson and Carter to free slave unemcumbered. This was later restricted in 1806. The article is misleading in stating Jefferson could not have free his slaves even under the 1806 restriction. Jefferson according to Meacham (2012) was a practical politician not a moral ideologist concerning slavery. You can't be an abolitionist and own slaves. I put this subject in the article for discussion and not to be personally attacked. Are your for banning Meacham (2012) from the article? Cmguy777 (talk) 23:14, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

As you pointed out, Meacham discards Jefferson's previous anti-slavery legislation attempts and then tries to compare Jefferson with Carter but does so by further disregarding other facts. e.g.Jefferson's debt. Yes, you can be an abolitionist and own slaves. Jefferson provides us with the definitive example, and his writings about slavery show that he indeed held deep ideological reservations about owning slaves. He had quite viable reasons for not releasing slaves unprepared into American society, and he was not able to free them because he used them as collateral for the loans he still had yet to pay off. If Jefferson had sold the slaves regardless, he would have had creditors after him. Comparing Jefferson to Carter by no other way then with the number of slaves freed is underhanded. There is much more to consider and your attempts to ignore it all is frankly getting a little stale. Please stop cherry picking the sources and ignoring important facts to make your isolated and misleading little point. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 03:53, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Edit break 2[edit]

Gwillhickers. Editors can't disregard a source such as Meacham (2012) because an editor disagrees with Meacham's (2012) conclusion concerning Jefferson. Is Gwillhickers is banning Meacham's (2012) views from the article? Meacham (2012) comparison of Carter and Jefferson is not underhanded nor opinion. Carter was moral ideologist and Jefferson was a practical politician. Jefferson free two slaves Carter free 452. Jefferson and Carter were both Virginians and under the same 1782 manumission law. Cmguy777 (talk) 06:18, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

A little chronology. In 1782, Jefferson at age 31 had just finished a one year term as Governor and had returned to Congress where he then shepherded the Land Ordinance of 1784 where Virginia ceded the vast area it owned northwest of the Ohio River to the national government, preparatory to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
In 1791, when Jefferson was Secretary of State to Washington, Robert Carter III, 63 and the richest man in Virginia, began a program of gradual manumission of his slaves, who upon gaining freedom, then worked his lands as tenants. Fellow abolitionist George Mason refused to assist him in a suit at law and Carter’s neighbors shunned him. After Carter was tarred and feathered, he and his daughters exiled to Baltimore. Freed slaves had freedom papers stolen and were returned to slavery. Subsequent Virginia law required masters to post a prohibitive bond for each freed slave against potential vagrancy. No prospect for building a political base and building a nationwide political party for liberal causes here. No, Jefferson did not follow Carter's example, but does the episode belong in Jefferson's biography? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:54, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
@TheVirginiaHistorian, Cmguy777: -- Robert Carter is to be commended for his attempt, but apparently he was a reckless idealist in this regard, his actions resulting in a calamity that brought further misfortune to his freed slaves. This episode provides us with a classic and definitive example as to why Jefferson had reservations about releasing slaves into "freedom" in that day and age. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:58, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
This certainly underscores what Meachem (2012) is stating. Jefferson was a practical politician not the moral idealist as Carter at the peril of the Virginia mob who possibly was tarred and feathered himself and his family and having to flee Virginia. Cmguy777 (talk) 06:09, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
But the proposal to assert Jefferson did not support the "ideology of abolitionists" is not what Meacham says. There were several means to abolition actively taken over these years and several more under consideration. Many of those extant in revolutionary Virginia were legislatively cut off over time, or they were made practically impossible. Jefferson did in fact support the means to freedom Carter employed, master's manumission, but Jefferson gave freedom at his death and those slaves self-exiled from Virginia as required by law, if they did not, the freed faced re-enslavement in a year. Since Jefferson practiced manumission and advocated for the eventual end of slavery and proposed legislation to obtain eventual abolition, one cannot say Jefferson did not support the ideology of abolition, nor did Meacham say that. It may be that Jefferson did not behave the way one of our WP editors wanted Jefferson to behave, but that disappointment per se does not belong in this article. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:57, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

@TheVirginiaHistorian Jefferson embraced manumission and supported expatriation of free blacks. That is not the same thing as abolitionism. He freed two slaves during his lifetime while Carter freed all of his slaves. Jefferson practiced slavery and profited from slavery at the same time he is considered to be an abolitionist. That is contradictory. Meacham (2012) does not state that Jefferson was an abolitionst rather a practical politician. Jefferson also bought and sold slaves. How can the be abolitionism? As President he allowed slaves after one year to be brought into the Louisiana territory. Abolitionists wanted to abolish domestic slavery throughout the entire United States. Please do not make personal attacks against my intentions. I have tried to keep this discussion on Meacham (2012) not myself as an editor. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:17, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

@Cmguy777, You have no citation to Meacham to support your proposed “Jefferson did not support the ideology of abolitionists…” The Constitution permitted slavery in the states, so each state with slavery had to find a way to regulate it or end it. Virginian opponents of slavery and its effect on an individual were reluctant to adopt the northern state strategies of gradual emancipation at age 16, because at age 14, the Yankee practice was to sell individuals South into permanent slavery, not wait to emancipate in place. The result as shown in the census was a decline in black populations along with the decline of slaves for the first decades of the 19th century.
Jefferson supported freeing blacks held in slavery who voluntarily chose to accept training and sponsorship of themselves and their families for a new life in Liberia. That is one of the programs of abolitionism under consideration in America by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln.
Gradual emancipation, sponsorship and voluntary repatriation to Africa is a part of the narrative of abolitionism in America, regardless of any original research into what may be “true” abolitionist ideology. Meacham the historian does not mention “abolitionist ideology” in conjunction with Jefferson. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 16:03, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

@TheVirginiaHistorian Meachem (2012) pages 477-478 compares Jefferson political pragmatism to Carter moral ideology (Carter setting all his slaves free; giving them land to live on and paid employment). That is abolitionism. Meachem (2012) does not state Jefferson was an abolitionist. Daniel Gaido (2006) The Formative Period of American Capitalism: A Materialist Interpretation on page 17 states that Jefferson and Madison, Republicans, represented the Southern slave interests. Additionally "The most popular leaders of pro-slavery Populism were Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.... That is not a ringing endorsement that Jefferson was an abolitionist. Since Jefferson represented the slave interests in the South he could not be an abolitionist. Cmguy777 (talk) 14:57, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Jefferson was not primarily an abolitionist, but having failed legislatively as a young man and in middle age, in later years he adopted one of the strands of abolitionism in the United States, that of the American Colonization Society. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 17:17, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Jefferson the abolitionist[edit]

Going over the Jefferson biography, it seems more needs to be said about Jefferson as an abolitionist. I couldn't help but trip over the sources that support this idea. Here is a sample -- there are many others.

-- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:10, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

How ironic. In my opinion this is blatant cherry picking from google searching. Abolitionists can't own slaves. Jefferson freed relatively few of the hundreds of slaves he owned and profited from. That is not abolition. Cmguy777 (talk) 06:25, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Not one of the above sources directly states Jefferson was an abolitionist. Padover (1965) is the closest. Cmguy777 (talk) 06:31, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
There is already enough about his views on race and slavery in the article. TFD (talk) 06:57, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Here is the exact text from Jefferson's Land Ordinance of 1784:

That after the year 1800 of the Christian aera, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty. Cmguy777 (talk) 07:01, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Jefferson's 1784 Land Ordinance allowed slavery for 16 years in Western territories. I will agree this is Jefferson's strongest proposed legislation against slavery. Cmguy777 (talk) 07:01, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
By contrast the Northwest Ordinance of 1784 immediately ended slavery in the Northwest Territory. However, unlike Jefferson's 1784 Land Ordinance, the capture of fugitive slaves was written into the law. Cmguy777 (talk) 07:45, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid. Cmguy777 (talk) 07:45, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
@TFD The issue is the content and accuracy of the information in the article and that the article needs to reflect modern research of Meacham (2012). Cmguy777 (talk) 07:50, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
@ Cmguy777's By contrast the Northwest Ordinance of 1784 immediately ended slavery in the Northwest Territory." --- No, during the governorship of Edward Coles in the 1820's, Illinois still had former French national slave holders inside its borders. Their neighbors never brought suit against them, so the slaves remained in place decades after the Northwest Ordinance. The Illinois legislature's had a fight whether to allow slavery, since once no longer a territory, a state could authorize slavery. On narrowly abolishing slavery as a state, the legislature prohibited immigration of free blacks into Illinois. The history is considerably messier than ideology allows. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 10:09, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
@ TheVirginiaHistorian. The 1787 law did not have Jefferson's 1800 condition thus banning slavery took place immediately. Americans could no longer practice slavery nor bring slaves into the territory. Allowing slavery as Jefferson 1784 Land Ordinance would have created a greater pro slavery sentiment in the territories since there would be 16 years before slavery would be banned. Cmguy777 (talk) 14:46, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

(edit conflict) Cm', after parading around with one source, Meacham, in a futile attempt to make one isolated out of context statement, you are hardly in a position to be accusing anyone of cherry picking. One need not search google (your implication that this is somehow wrong noted). All one has to do is check/search the various sources in this or the dedicated Jefferson bibliography -- the above list is by no means complete. Yes, you can be an abolitionist and own slaves. Once again, Jefferson, and others, gives us definitive examples and Jefferson's writings and actions demonstrate the point time and again. All you've been doing here is sniping at superficial inconsistencies where laws and such were written. You have yet to come close to demonstrating that Jefferson had no moral considerations and that he didn't strive for abolition. Though you may not be able to find a verbatim statement that says "Jefferson was an abolitionist", the examples given demonstrates/states this point in a number of ways. e.g.:

" (Jefferson) envisioned a program of gradual abolition..."
"Jefferson was the crucial figure in American history both for slavery and for abolition"
"Jefferson’s belief in the necessity of ending slavery never changed."

Hello? Your claim that Jefferson's views about slavery were soley practical, not based in moral and ideological considerations, only exemplifies how ignorant, or blind by preference, you've been about this topic. More context about Jefferson's abolitionist aspirations needs to be included. There are more than enough sources to base this premise on. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 15:39, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

@ Cm, you are again ignoring the former French nationals who held slaves and persisted in holding them when nationalized as American and Illinois citizens. When the British ceded the North American continent west to the Mississippi River, they had not displaced the previous French (who had settled prior to the French and Indian War) and their slaves on plantations settled in modern Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana.
These were subsumed into the United States citizenship with some degree of urgency on Jefferson's part at the time of the Louisiana Purchase, especially in what would become the Louisiana Territory. The point was to attach the former French nationals to the United States, safeguarding their property claims against the Spanish since the Spanish contested French sale of the Louisiana Purchase to the United States. The press of international affairs did not apparently allow for the luxury of an abolitionist experiment when the security of the lower Mississippi River was in play. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 15:04, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
@ Gwillhickers. I am not the one who is ignorant and blind. Your contention is with Meacham (2012) but you make personal attacks against myself. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:57, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
@ TheVirginiaHistorian. Yes there were French slave owners in the NorthWest Territory. Jefferson nor the 1787 Ordinance did not address these issues. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:57, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Additional sources for Jefferson's abolitionist views[edit]

  • . . .

-- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:17, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

Jefferson thought that the U.S. should be a nation of white "yeoman" farmers. He thought that ending the slave trade would reduce the number of slaves and the remainder could be deported to Africa. The article says that. That does not put him in the same league as Wilberforce, or even Hamilton. let alone John Brown. TFD (talk) 16:20, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes, this is one of Jefferson's practical considerations, believing that great numbers of freed slaves harboring resentments about slavery would spell disaster for them. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:28, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Gwillhickers, do you support Meacham (2012) as a source ? Cmguy777 (talk) 17:51, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Meacham is cited 17 times in the article. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 21:05, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Cm', you're typically trying to change the subject with this strawman. I've been more than clear as to what I support and don't support. Suggest you gets your ducks in a row and at least make an attempt to debate the issue honestly. Before that you might want to take a good long review of edit history and see who has used Meacham as a source in the past. Here's a clue or two. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 22:04, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
I agree with TFD: TJ's "abolition" wasn't the same as William Lloyd Garrison's or any real abolitionists'. (See McPherson's definition in the abolitionism article.) You omitted a key phrase in quoting Bernstein: "--denouncing Jefferson because of his opposition to slavery and his supposed support for abolition." Supposed support. I don't think you'll get anyone to agree that a man could work slaves and be an abolitionist at the same time; TJ was conflicted between the two, but his pragmatism overcame his morality. Yopienso (talk) 07:02, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

(Insert :) Regarding the one source that says "and his supposed support for abolition", by itself this neither means that he was or wasn't, but taken together with the other sources (e.g. "Jefferson was the crucial figure in American history both for slavery and for abolition", and all of Jefferson's attempts at abolition, it can be seen that it merely acknowledges the apparent inconsistency that Jefferson was a slave owner yet strove for abolition. There are more than enough sources, including primary sources, that more than support the idea. Any source that says otherwise is, like Meacham, no doubt discarding important facts to support their already made up minds. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:04, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Well, there are different kinds. The abolitionist as immediate universal emancipation into "racially integrated society, one day, maybe" is not the same abolitionist as "emancipation to freedom" into a self-reliant republic with political, economic and racial equality that Jefferson envisioned for the individual African-American freedman leaving with his family for Liberia after training and sponsorship.
Now it happens, I prefer the good outcomes that we've ended up with, in an integrated society, here, together, though I don't much like the obstacles overcome to get where we are. And I personally would prefer to live in the U.S. society today rather than in Europe or Africa, after having seen both. And I agree with TFD, "There is already enough about [Jefferson's] views on race and slavery in the article." --- TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:37, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Agree that the section is large enough and has more than enough scope regarding Jefferson's views, his ideology, his pragmatism, treatment of slaves, and all the attempts at legislation/abolition. It might do well to mention that there were many who were opposed to slavery who took in slaves and took very good care of them, esp in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Obviously this has dumb-founded the naive and ignorant, presentists who see themselves as 'modern thinkers' and whose views of slavery extend no further than the shores of the U.S. Abolitionist minded slave holders were no more unusual than people today who are opposed to air pollution yet drive a car to a environmental summit -- or someone who shoots a home invader but is opposed to violence. (Gee-wiz -- How could that ever-ever beeeee?) Since the 60's we've mostly been handed the 2 dimensional account of slavery, esp by those who have political and racial motivations and actually become angry and irrational should anyone dare mention anything but the narrow doom and gloom version of slavery in America, which btw, was starkly different from slavery in the Caribbean and Brazil, where the life expectancy of slaves was about seven years. Jefferson, like Carter, wanted to free his slaves, but unlike Carter, was wise enough not to let ideology overshadow the reality of such a risky venture and was not gullible enough to be goaded into doing so. Yes, I too would prefer to live in American society, at any point in time. One of the few places slavery is openly practiced today is in Africa. (1, 2, 3) and it isn't practiced the way it was by and large in America. There are other examples, just for the historical perspective. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 15:50, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

@Gwillhicker's Meacham (2012) presents Jefferson as a practical politician not wanting to rock the boat of slavery. Carter rocked the boat and he suffered the consequences from an angry Virginia mob. With that said to define Jefferson as an aboltionist is stretching the facts since Monticello was a profit making venture made possible by slavery. Possibly Jefferson feared the angry mob or more likely he just did not believe African Americans were ready for citizenship. An abolitionist was for abolishing slavery and for giving blacks citizenship as Carter attempted. The angry reaction had more to do with freed blacks in white society rather then Carter freeing his slaves. Jefferson believed whites were African American caretakers. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:39, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Jefferson was an abolitionist for moral and' practical reasons, and we live in a three dimensional world, Cm'. There are plenty of facts and sources that cover this rather well. Here also, you are not in a position to be making an issue about "stretching the facts" when you embrace one solitary cherry-picked source that ignores many of the facts. Key facts, no less.-- Gwillhickers (talk) 21:18, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Carter made no attempt to give his freed slaves full citizenship, he attempted to give them physical security as long term tenants on his plantations. This is not "freed blacks in white society", obstreperous white tenants were removed from his properties. Carter gained pecuniary benefit from this arrangement, but you do not deprecate his motives, why be inconsistent and slam Jefferson for advocating emancipation but at the same time benefiting from the labor of blacks? Jefferson freed all the children of Sally Hemings, formally or informally as it is said he promised her, whether or not he fathered them (freeing the master's children was the practice in the French Caribbean). His family disposed of his slaves among owners of related slave families at an opportunity cost to the estate.
“Abolitionist” in American antebellum history encompasses AT LEAST a) gradual removal of black populations in Northern states under the guise of gradual emancipation at age 16 in the New Nation Era, slaves were deported South at age 14 into perpetual slavery, (though there were substantial free-black communities in port cities, North and South in the antebellum era), b) gradual emancipation, training, sponsoring, and colonizing with families to Africa supported by Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Randolph, Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln in the antebellum period, and c) immediate comprehensive emancipation with racially constrained citizenship as in the Northern states.
This diversity is a part of the historical fabric of American abolitionism. Is there a preponderance of reliable sources, is there any reliable source which asserts a monolithic "abolitionist ideology" to test for purity at the turn of the 19th century with racial integration and full citizenship in the historical time? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 21:39, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Carter did something to make an angry mob tar or feather himself or one of his families. Carter was banished from Virginia society and he dared not return. Having freed blacks work as paid tenants on his property, rather then slaves, was a form of citizenship that late 18th and early 19th century Virginia white society could not accept. Also freed blacks meant that white slave owners would loose representation in Congress. Contemporary Baptist and Methodists churches or ministers in Virginia during Jefferson's times advocated aboltion of slavery and full equality of blacks. This of course is Meacham's (2012) view that Jefferson did not live in a time when abolition of slavery was non existent. Jefferson was conservative or moderate for his time. Jefferson did not associate with the Baptists and Methodists churches who supported abolition of slavery and citizenship for blacks. Cmguy777 (talk) 22:02, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
Jefferson advocated and end to slavery. This makes him an abolitionist, who as TVH points out, were not all squeezed through the same hole. They differed on various points and approaches to abolition. Jefferson was also a liberal -- a radical by some accounts -- in politics and in religion. He opposed standing armies and was opposed to elitist privilege. These were all liberal tenants. It was the conservatives of his day, esp in the south, who opposed abolition and yes, they would lose representation in proportion to freed slaves. This was only a concern for those who supported slavery. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 23:09, 11 September 2014 (UTC)
@Cmguy777, a couple of factual points. Each freed black as a free person was counted as a full resident for Congressional representation, not as a slave at 3/5 a person. This is a part of the antebellum Liberty Party’s reinterpretation of the Constitution as anti-slavery.
Meacham does not say there was only one intellectual tradition of emancipation in American history, as there were several, and Jefferson belonged to one of them.
Jefferson did associate and correspond with Baptists and Methodists, he famously penned the “wall of separation between church and state” to one, and he rotated regular church attendance among three churches in his county and contributed to them, which I believe were the Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Methodist.
And yes, Baptists and Methodists in the antebellum South practiced a “priesthood of all believers” that included worship leadership by blacks and women until their churches divided sectionally in a precursor to the Civil War, and at that division, Southern Baptists and Methodists racially segregated. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 05:42, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

boom boom boom boom Brad (talk) 08:39, 12 September 2014 (UTC)


Cm', can you tell us how Jefferson "represented the slave interests in the South"? Please don't give us any more conjecture or unsupported stub-statements you like to throw in just for effect. e.g."Jefferson was a conservative." Simply tell us what you know that dozens of other sources somehow missed altogether. We've seen how some sources will ignore key facts to support an opinion, but somehow you seem to have missed almost all the facts. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:21, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

I thought that Jefferson's term for what he represented was the "Southern interest" and that he had both a near term and a long term view of what those interests entailed. Jefferson's long term interest of the South included an end to slavery in a way which would not precipitate a race war, as he believed freedom for all would benefit all and a race war would benefit no one of any description. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 17:10, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Inconsistency with this article, multiple NPOV issues[edit]

For those interested, the Thomas Jefferson and slavery article is a NPOV disaster and in many instances is not at all consistent with this article. See Talk:Thomas Jefferson and slavery. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 18:01, 11 September 2014 (UTC)

Subsection for Jefferson and abolition[edit]

I'd recommend reducing the size of the slavery section to make room for the above named subsection. We have the sources, and this is something that is almost completely lacking in the biography. Once we draft an accurate in context summary and include it here, we can then go to the Thomas Jefferson and slavery article and expand on this idea. There is some context to this effect already in the biography, but it seems it would do better if it was contained in its own subsection with other context to support the idea. Here also, we can mention that some historians have expressed doubts about this idea. At this point we should only do so if we can avoid increasing the size of the section. We could start with a core statement and then build on it as necessary. The new subsection should be no longer than several well thought out sentences. Yes? -- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:21, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

  • Though Jefferson owned slaves, it is widely held that he was opposed to slavery on moral and practical grounds and was among the first to publicly and officially take action against the institution, making several attempts to introduce legislation for its abolition. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:21, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Meacham (2012) does not support that Jefferson was an abolitionist but rather a practical politician. This is NPOV. This also discounts the comparison between Carter and Jefferson. The above statement is misleading the reader that Jefferson was a leading abolitionist in Virginia when in fact, Carter, Baptist and Methodist ministers were the leading spokespersons for abolition. Cmguy777 (talk) 17:23, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
Well, to continue with Gwillickers' thought, we know from Meacham p.326 and others,
  • Following the Gabriel Prosser rebellion in the summer of 1800, Jefferson began to consider a gradual emancipation plan of voluntary training, sponsorship and resettlement for slave families. The concept was eventually taken up with the formation of the American Colonization Society in 1817, endorsed by ante-bellum moderates such as John Randolph, Henry Clay, Richard Bland Lee and Abraham Lincoln.
Jefferson was a practical politician who held near term and long term views of what was in the best "Southern interest". In the long run, he believed the best interests of the South was to abolish slavery. He believed freedom for everyone in peace was best for all, and he believed that race war benefitted no one of any description. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 17:40, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Here is the source that states Jefferson and Madison represented Southern slave interests. Jefferson and Andrew Jackson represented pro-slavery Populism. Daniel Gaido (2006) The Formative Period of American Capitalism: A Materialist Interpretation Page 17 How can Jefferson be an abolitionist when the party he formed, the Republicans, represented slave interests ? Cmguy777 (talk) 17:50, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Cmguy777, that is a minority opinion. Gaido can says, "The slave-owners, represented by Jefferson and Madison's Republican Party, were compelled to resort to Populist policies in order to keep together their anti-bourgeois coalition with the yeoman farmers." But it is more commonly seen the other way round, that the yeoman farmers, represented by Jefferson, were compelled to appeal to the Southern planters. And his view that slavery was "pre-capitalist" is in the minority, it's not even classic Marxism. TFD (talk) 20:10, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Re: "He was among the first to advance the idea of abolition." James M. McPherson in The Abolitionist Legacy (Princeton University Press, 1995), p. 4, defines an abolitionist as someone in the pre-Civil War era who wanted the immediate, unconditional end of slavery.[1] That seems to be a standard defintion and would exclude Jefferson. The movement did not really begin until the 1830s, after Jefferson's death. TFD (talk) 19:39, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

@The Four Deuces: -- it's inaccurate to say that to be an abolitionist you 'must' want "the immediate, unconditional end of slavery", as many abolitionists approached the idea in gradual steps and were mindful of looming realities awaiting an unprepared slave with no where else to go and no means of support. Esp as concerns slave families with children. You have to look at this realistically, not just academically. Is not being mindful of their welfare an important consideration? One could argue that Carter was just putting on airs and brought calamity and misfortune not only to freed slaves, but to himself and family. Evidently Carter didn't care much about his slaves and just turned them lose so he could hold his pinky up at Sunday ice cream socials. As long as we're throwing out interpretations and speculations let's be reminded that such a venture can work both ways. As I've always maintained, it's best we to stick to the facts and leave the social and political interpretations to the readers. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 23:52, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Why is there such a push to prove Jefferson was an abolitionist? Compared to Carter Jefferson was a moderate to conservative when emancipating slaves. Jefferson was bent on destroying Hamilton's United States bank because this bank served the Northern Federalist capitalists and weakened the economic power of the slave owners. Jefferson by dismantling the U.S. Bank was representing slave holding interests. Jefferson and Madison sponsored states rights to nullify federal law. That was the beginings of the American Civil War. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:53, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
@Cmguy777: -- you're the one who started this "push" to prove Jefferson was not an abolitionist, and you're the one who has clinged to Meacham while ignoring many many sources that cite Jefferson and his abolitionist aspirations. Meacham is out of step with most sources, including modern sources, that have cited Jefferson as an abolitionist -- based on the facts that he advanced abolitionist legislation and often wrote about it. OTOH, everything you've offered is speculative and the product of interpretation. e.g.Jefferson was a conservative -- ergo he was not an abolitionist. It's like saying, 'Smith gave to child charities, Jones did not. Ergo, Jones didn't care about children'. i.e. 2+2 does not equal 100. We can easily demonstrate that Jefferson was an abolitionist, by his political endeavors, deeds and actions and his writings. You can't discount that Jefferson was an abolitionist simply because Carter gave away slaves and Jefferson did not. As was explained to you several times, Jefferson couldn't free his slaves without bringing legal consequences down on himself, his family and estate. Also, Jefferson wanted freedom for slaves but wasn't about to release unprepared slaves out into society because he cared about their welfare, as is evident in his treatment of slaves. Sorry, you simply have to ignore almost everything about Jefferson to say he didn't strive or hope for abolition. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 23:52, 12 September 2014 (UTC)
I am just saying that we should explain Jefferson's words and actions, but saying he was an "abolitionist", when most historians do not even use the term to refer to anyone in Jefferson's time, or anyone who favored gradual emancipation, is confusing. I think though that Cmguy777 is wrong in recasting Jefferson as a tool of slave-owners. He opposed the regulation because it meant "yeomen" could not get credit. Yeomen opposed the tariffs because it meant they could not buy cheap farm equipment from England and England would retaliate to U.S. protectionism by putting tariffs on their exports. And there was no social security or farm supports, so the federal government gave them nothing, at least directly. TFD (talk) 00:54, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Most historians have cited Jefferson's abolitionist aspirations and involvements. See above listings, esp the one that says: "Jefferson was the crucial figure in American history both for slavery and for abolition." To make such a statement Jefferson had to be rather involved in abolitionist pursuits. We certainly can say Jefferson worked for and advocated abolition if you really think using the term "abolitionist" is going to confuse someone, though I don't see how in light of all Jefferson's deeds and writings. "Abolitionist" is not some official title only used for members of some official abolitionist society. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 04:41, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
Jefferson could emancipate slaves and he did two while he was alive and five after his death. To say that Jefferson could not free his slaves is misleading to the reader when in fact he did in his will despite his finincial set backs. Jefferson believe in moderation not abolitionism like Carter. Gradual emancipation and then deportation. Jefferson did not propose to end slavery in the South his homeland. Jefferson protect planters who had slaves or used slaves on their plantations. That is why he tried to dismantle the U.S. Bank. I suggest the following that the severe antagonism towards abolition in Viriginia, as Carter found out, prevented Jefferson from freeing his slaves, who as a politician and a founder, was more interested in keeping the Union intact rather then dissolving. However, even this is challanged by Jefferson and Madison assertation of states rights nullifying federal law. Cmguy777 (talk) 01:19, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Once again, Jefferson could not free his slaves because he was in debt and had used them as collateral. Once again. he also had reservations about releasing unprepared slaves with no place to go or any means of support into "freedom". The two slaves he did release were mostly white, could pass for white and had viable skills to take care of themselves. Like the biography already says, he provided them with "a monetary endowment and trade tools to aid in making a living". He could not do this for slaves that had no such skills and could not pass for white. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 04:41, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

@Cmguy777: As the Galdo source explains, on p.17-18, “plebeian coalitions led by pre-capitalist dominant classes, with their inevitable mixture of progressive and reactionary aspects, were not an uncommon phenomenon in European history." But then Galdo falls into confusion…"The most popular political leaders of proslavery Populism were the presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson; its most important ideologist was John Taylor of Caroline…”

Well, when we remove the unclear thinking, we can draw a distinction between a) Taylor who painted slavery as a positive good to be enlarged and b) Jefferson who held slavery to be a moral evil to be limited and eventually eliminated without race war for the sake of the individual, which is one of the kinds of abolition traditions in American intellectual history.

This is an approach based on people and events of the time, as opposed to a reified “abolitionist ideology” in academic fiction which does not admit to the historical facts, including the American Colonization Society. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:27, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Subsection proposal[edit]

So to date, we have copy edits relative to the proposal for a subsection on Jefferson and abolition:

Though Jefferson owned slaves, it is widely held that he was opposed to slavery on moral and practical grounds and was among the first to publicly and officially take action against the institution, making several attempts to introduce legislation for its abolition, both in the U.S Congress and in Virginia.
(examples from failed attempts and successful measures in court cases and legislation, state and nationally)
Following the Gabriel Prosser rebellion in the summer of 1800, Jefferson began to consider a gradual emancipation plan of voluntary training, sponsorship and resettlement for slave families. The concept was eventually taken up with the formation of the American Colonization Society in 1817, endorsed by ante-bellum moderates such as John Randolph, Henry Clay, Richard Bland Lee and Abraham Lincoln.

Is it possible to separate the copy edit work from the discussion surrounding it? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:46, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

@TheVirginiaHistorian, The Four Deuces, Cmguy777, Yopienso, Stephan Schulz, Brad101, Rjensen:
Looks good. It would seem this section-draft would be acceptable to almost everyone. We are not referring to Jefferson as an abolitionist outright, and are stating that the view is widely held, not stating it as absolute fact. The slavery section already mentions that there's doubt among some historians regarding Jefferson's sincerity about slavery reform, etc. (add : The examples mentioned (in parenthesis) I believe are already mentioned in the article but it seems we can mention them here in passing being careful not to overwhelm the section with such details.) All we have to do now imo is line up a few sources. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 15:45, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
@Gwillhickers:Looks like this is already a done deal. None of these efforts were successful and Jefferson did not put these measures into personal practice. Also, Jefferson apparently had nothing to do with the actual formation of the American Colonization Society, at a time when Jefferson was out of political office. There is no need to mention the American Colonization Society. There is no mention Jefferson's Republican party represented the interests of slave owners or the planter class. Cmguy777 (talk) 16:49, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
The failure of abolitionist legislation was no fault of Jefferson, and to say the "Republican's "represented the interests of slave owners" is a gross distortion, as Jefferson was a Republican and a two term president who held that slavery was contrary to Republicanism and revolutionary ideals. Btw, there were plenty of Democrats who owned slaves, so you need to break the two-dimensional analysis habit and adapt a broader and more realistic view, some day. Last, since Jefferson was among the first to advance the idea of repatriation to Africa it is entirely appropriate to mention the fruition of such ideas without getting into details. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 17:41, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
There should be some mention that Virginia society was intolerant of African American citizenship such as the case with Carter who was forced to flee Virginia to Maryland. Jefferson did not support African American citizenship. That is not mentioned. Jefferson's "abolitionist" legislation allowed slavery to exist for 16 years in the Western Territories. Jefferson's dismantling of the U.S. Bank was in the best interests of slave plantation owners. The Federalists were the opposition party to Jefferson who viewed Jefferson was pro slavery. The Democratic Party started under Andrew Jackson. The statements above are designed to make Jefferson appear to be a leader of the abolitionst movements. There was no federal funding of Colonization until President James Monroe, i.e. Monrovia. Jefferon was not public about his colonization plan while President. Virginia did not adopt Jefferson's intial 1779 colonization plan. Cmguy777 (talk) 17:59, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes, Jefferson didn't support citizenship and was wise enough to know it would by and large result in the same fashion as it did for Carter. Your claim that "Jefferson's abolitionist legislation allowed slavery to exist for 16 years", is yet another distortion. i.e.How does failed legislation "help" anyone but opponents of abolition? The rest of your conjecture (e.g."funding of Colonization.."; "Virginia did not adopt...") is all over the map and tangential or completely irrelevant to Jefferson's attempts at abolition legislation, writings and his hopes and wishes for slaves. Jefferson was indeed an inspiration to if not a leader in the abolitionist movement, and there are more than enough sources that articulate this. -- Gwillhickers (talk)

The 1787 legislation ended slavery immediately. Jefferson's 1784 proposal gave a 16 year slavery allowance and would have allowed the slave interests to entrench into the West. Jefferson's legislation could be considered pro slavery for allowing slavery into the Western territories. Cmguy777 (talk) 19:08, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes, Jefferson's abolitionist legislation, for not producing immediate results, "could be considered pro slavery", for those so inclined to think so, indeed. Thanks for that insight at least. Bear in mind, that the absence of any legislation would have allowed slavery, which was already entrenched, to exist indefinitely. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 20:53, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
Abolitionists in 1784 supported Jefferson's proposal, which would have covered all the territories & eventually ended slavery in Alabama & Mississippi. The slave interest opposed Jefferson in 1784. Calling the position endorsed by all the anti-slavery forces pro-slavery is pretty bad history. Freehling The Road to Disunion: Volume I says: "in 1784, Jefferson himself struck uncharacteristically boldly against the expansion of slavery into new territories. ... This proposed Ordinance of 1784 would have barred bondage from Alabama and Mississippi no less than from Illinois..." The Garrisonian notion that slavery had to be ended IMMEDIATELY (because it was a sin) was not on the table during Jefferson's lifetime. Rjensen (talk) 02:59, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Proposed subsection[edit]

Just so the proposed subsection doesn't get buried in all the foot dragging, I'm keeping it 'up front' in the hopes that others will weigh in soon so we can move on.

Though Jefferson owned slaves, it is widely held that he was opposed to slavery on moral and practical grounds and was among the first to publicly and officially take action against the institution, making several attempts to introduce legislation for its abolition, both in the U.S Congress and in Virginia.
(examples from failed attempts and successful measures in court cases and legislation, state and nationally)
Following the Gabriel Prosser rebellion in the summer of 1800, Jefferson began to consider a gradual emancipation plan of voluntary training, sponsorship and resettlement for slave families. The concept was eventually taken up with the formation of the American Colonization Society in 1817, endorsed by ante-bellum moderates such as Jefferson's cousin John Randolph, Henry Clay, Richard Bland Lee and Abraham Lincoln. The idea of recolonization was met with mixed reactions from proponents and critics among the many different political and religious groups of the day.

Comments and suggestions[edit]

Not only did Jefferson's ideas of abolition feed directly into and inspire the creation of the American Colonization Society, he, along with Madison, were ardent supporters, so it's befitting that the ACS is mentioned in the subsection. We should also mention that there were notable differences of opinions among abolitionists, some of them feeling that freed slaves had every right to remain in America, so once again, there was no singular criteria required to be considered an abolitionist, save the desire to see slavery abolished. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 22:08, 13 September 2014 (UTC)

The page you link to is titled, "Colonization: the “respectable” way to be anti-slavery in early New England." It says William Lloyd Garrison "attacked Colonization [i.e., Jefferson, Madison, and the ACS] as a hypocritical sham" based on "[f]ear, prejudice, and self?interest [sic], not philanthropy." Yopienso (talk) 22:35, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done Yes, I'm sure the idea had its skeptics and critics, and we can certainly mention this. The concerns or "fears" were not unfounded however, given the Haitian and Gabriel's rebellions and the sort of thing Carter experienced when he freed his slaves. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 23:06, 13 September 2014 (UTC)
The article needs to be careful in putting Jefferson in the abolitionist camp especially since Jefferson was a slave owner and his political power was dependant on slavery, i.e. the 3/5 clause in the constitution that gave Southerners more representation. Jefferson was for gradual emancipation and deportation (GEAD) , but none of these polices went into effect until the James Monroe Administration. The GEAD plan was acceptable politically in the South as opposed to Carter, freeing all of his slaves, and paying them to work. Jefferson's vision of democracy and equality did not extend to blacks. Methodist and Baptist Churches accepted blacks as equals during Jefferson's own times. Cmguy777 (talk) 00:58, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
Jefferson's observations and contemporary views about blacks, which he admitted were suspicions, was shared by greater society throughout the world and doesn't change the fact that he strove for abolition, unlike most slave owners throughout history. Regardless of his opinion about racial differences he regarded blacks as humans and creatures of God who deserved freedom and humane, good, treatment. Again, turning slaves and their children out into society unprepared was a legitimate concern. The prospect of freeing slaves was not at all a practical or convenient one in Jefferson's day. It required money, training, living provisions, land to live on, shelter, -- not just a pat on the back and a wish of good luck. Again, Jefferson couldn't free his slaves because of his tremendous debt. He was still considered an abolitionist, a radical by some accounts, and played a crucial role in getting the abolitionist movement started. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 02:35, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Here is an interesting book. We know that Jefferson knew Robert Carter III in his youth. Here is a book called: The First Emancipator: Slavery, Religion, and the Quiet Revolution of Robert Carter Cmguy777 (talk) 02:45, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

(edit conflict) Upon cursory examination it appears to be an excellent read. Page 130, 3rd paragraph, actually gave me pause, revealing that both Carter and Jefferson were exceptional people in their time and spent a good deal of their life fighting a relentless uphill battle.
As well, however, Carter was tried by the failure of the great public compromises of the late 1780s to yield a resolution that spoke to his ethical sensibilities. Like Jefferson, who composed one emancipation proposal after another, and who felt great frustration when they failed to inspire consensus, Carter hoped that the will of Virginia would settle the issue of slavery for him: ... Page 62 is also telling. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:21, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
Cmguy777 objected to linking Jefferson to the American Colonization Society, I wanted to reassure him that the passage belongs in this article as a part of Jefferson's legacy and the U.S. abolitionist intellectual tradition. From Carter G. Woodson's Journal of Negro History (1917), we have:
"It requires little effort to appreciate the weight of this Ex-President’s [Jefferson's] opinion, and colonizationists later gave wide publicity to it in order to strengthen their cause.[n. 6] American Colonization Society, First Annual Report (Washington, 1817), 6,7.—Sherwood, Henry Noble. “The Formation of the American Colonization Society”, The Journal of Negro History, Carter G. Woodson, ed., 1917 vol. II, p. 210-211. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 05:09, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
The article should not give Jefferson credit for starting the American Colonization Society, since Jefferson, did not start the American Colonization Society. Why not then give credit to Jefferson for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation or Grant's Civil Rights Act of 1875. The whole object seems to be to prove the point Jefferson was an abolitionsit. Cmguy777 (talk) 09:08, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
The proposal does not give Jefferson credit for starting the ACS, it only reports his public and private support of the idea of gradual emancipation in several forms over several decades (one of which regarding making slave children wards of the state, I object to as lacking moral sensibility), these concepts formed an intellectual legacy adopted by his contemporaries John Randolph and Richard Bland Lee in the American Colonization Society. Straw men and reductio ad absurdum do not successfully argue against Jefferson as participating in one of the abolitionist intellectual traditions in America. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 12:40, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
Gradual emancipation and colonization only proves Jefferson was a moderate and a practical politician. The first emancipator was Carter who was severely punished by the Virginia public, one of is family members was tarred and feathered, and he was forced to flee his home state of Virginia unable to return. Why do we forget men like Carter who freed all of his slaves and gave them paid work. Carter makes Jefferson look like a moderate practical politian and Meacham (2012) contends. Wikipedia is suppose to present Jefferson in neutral format that allows some criticism, comparison of contemporaries, or critical opinion of Jefferson. To state that the American Colonization society's founding was somehow directly influenced by Jefferson is misleading to the reader. Robert Finley, the founder, was from New Jersey. Is there some letter that directely links Jefferson with Finley and the founding of the American Colonization Society? Cmguy777 (talk) 15:14, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
The claim that Jefferson was a "moderate", someone who opposed standing armies during the revolutionary and post revolutionary era, is an opinion not supported by any concrete facts. Any sort of advocacy for emancipation and colonization would have put you on the liberal/radical page in those days. Jefferson wanted emancipation to occur as quickly as possible but settled for the idea of gradual emancipation in the face of great opposition and other practical considerations. Again, Jefferson didn't let moral considerations cloud his judgement in his dealings with the real world. The section will not be referring to Jefferson as a 'liberal, moderate or conservative'. Here also we'll just let the readers make that call. And not being "the first emancipator" means nothing, either way. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 15:41, 14 September 2014 (UTC)
I used reductio ad absurdum to make a point. Where is the letter of Jefferson to Robert Finley correspondence that links Jefferson to the founding of the American Colonization Society. Jefferson was a moderate on the slavery issue, not in his rebellion or revolution from King George III. Jefferson did not actively fight during the Revolutionary War, as far as I know, British forces who invaded Virginia. Jefferson's rhetoric fluctuated between liberalism and conservatism. Robert Carter III was the forgotten liberal freeing all of his slaves and paying them for work giving them a form of citizenship that the Virginia society of the times could not tolerate. Their children were no longer slaves. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:55, 14 September 2014 (UTC)


For those interested, two new sources have just been added to the Bibliography of Thomas Jefferson (not to be confused with the bibliography for this article).

  • Lerner, Max (2013). Thomas Jefferson: America's Philosopher-King
  • Levy, Robert (2007). The First Emancipator: Slavery, Religion, and the Quiet Revolution of Robert Cater

Like other publications, Levy's book about Carter is included because it mentions Jefferson extensively throughout the text, almost as much as Carter. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 16:19, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Moving forward[edit]

Proposed section:

Though Jefferson owned slaves, it is widely held that he was opposed to slavery on moral and practical grounds and was among the first to publicly and officially take action against the institution, making several attempts to introduce legislation for its abolition, both in the U.S Congress and in Virginia.
(examples from failed attempts and successful measures in court cases and legislation, state and nationally)
Following the Gabriel Prosser rebellion in the summer of 1800, Jefferson began to consider a gradual emancipation plan of voluntary training, sponsorship and resettlement for slave families. The concept was eventually taken up with the formation of the American Colonization Society in 1817, endorsed by ante-bellum moderates such as Jefferson's cousin John Randolph, Henry Clay, Richard Bland Lee and Abraham Lincoln. The idea of recolonization was met with mixed reactions from proponents and critics among the many different political and religious groups of the day.

We have enough content to move forward with the section. It doesn't come right out and claim "Jefferson was an abolitionist" while still touching on the facts concerning Jefferson's many attempts at and approaches to abolition and colonization. It also acknowledges the inspiration and impetus Jefferson provided for the A.C.S. and similar efforts while also mentioning the mixed reactions towards these involvements. Re:Sources. This shouldn't be difficult. I'll begin by sourcing the first sentence. TheVirginiaHistorian, since you authored the 2nd paragraph mostly I'm hoping you can expedite matters by providing the sourcing here. As for the examples, these are already covered generically in the slavery section, but if anyone wishes to enumerate them they'll get no objections from me at least. At the same time we should make efforts to consolidate any appropriate facts that exist in the section into the proposed subsection, avoiding any redundancy. Any further suggestions that have not already been addressed are welcomed. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:33, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

@Gwillhickers: The above text does mention abolition at the end. The reader would conclude Jefferson was an abolitionist. Also the sentence is general statement rather then specifics. I would mention gradual emancipation and expatriation. I would also state Jefferson Land Act of 1784 would have ceased slavery in the West after 1800. Jefferson's training, emancipation, and colonization program was developed in 1779. The American Colonization Society was founded by Robert Finley of New Jersey. I have looked up to see whether there was any correspondence between Finley and Jefferson. I could not find one letter. Also there is no mention of Carter, his emancipation of his slaves, and the hostile reaction from the Virginia conservative citizens. Cmguy777 (talk) 02:27, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
In Jefferson’s Letter to David Bailey Warden 12.26.20 from Monticello, we have Jefferson’s take on the Missouri Question, "the spreading [slaves] over a larger surface adds to their happiness and renders their future emancipation more practicable.” and on Virginia Governor Randolph’s proposal, "Mr. Randolph is at present our Governor, & of course at Richmond. He has had the courage to propose to our legislature a plan of general emancipation & deportation of our slaves.” Although not yet ripe for passage, Jefferson believed the proposal along with the Missouri Question debate, would get serious attention if the public kept in mind the dangers of St. Domingo’s race war. Recall Jefferson's contention that the races living peaceably together would be made problematic by both white prejudice and the memory of countless injuries done each individual undergoing slavery.
Jefferson is acknowledged by Finley and the American Colonization Society as a precursor to the ACS in the first organizational meeting, as cited in Henry Noble Sherwood’s article in Woodward’s Journal of Negro History. Gradual emancipation and colonization proves Jefferson was an moderate and practical abolitionist.
We must be freed of Galdo’s ideological blinders which artificially limit our ability to distinguish between John Taylor of Caroline who promoted slavery as a positive good and sought its expansion, and Thomas Jefferson who condemned slavery as a moral evil to master and slave, opposed its concentration to bring about emancipation, and sought its limitation and gradual abolition from the American republic.
It would be difficult in a time when U.S. citizens use "African-American" to use the ideological "emancipation and expatriation" when today's widely accepted usage indicates "emancipation and repatriation" from the wrong of a forced exile from Africa. My preference would be a more neutrally descriptive, "emancipation and resettlement", or "emancipation and colonization" because that is more inclusive of Jefferson's various proposals for purchase of land in Ohio by the state of Virginia, national land grants west of the Mississippi, and U.S. sponsored colonization in the Caribbean and finally Africa.
Aside: Voluntary migration makes sense for an individual and their family, not so much the ideological proposal for wholesale removal of a race, a failing of the "theoretical mind" as Madison once described Jefferson's limitation. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 03:42, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Alternative paragraph: Cmguy777 (talk) 03:59, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Jefferson remained opposed to slavery on both moral and practical grounds. Starting in 1779 Jefferson proposed a gradual emancipation plan of voluntary training, sponsorship and resettlement for slave families to the Virginia legilature. In 1784 Jefferson proposed to the United States Congress legislation that would cease slavery in the Western Territories in the year 1800, however, this legislation was defeated by one vote. In 1787, Congress passed the Northwest Ordiance, a partial victory for Jefferson, that ceased slavery in North West Territory. During Jefferson's lifetime Virginia society, as proven by Robert Carter's slave emancipation in 1791, was strongly opposed to African-American citizenship, while colonization of freed slaves was viewed as an acceptable less drastic alternative. Following the Gabriel Prosser rebellion in the summer of 1800, Jefferson again proposed a colonization plan for African-Americans to prevent a violent race war. Colonization of Afican-Americans became popular throughout the early 19th Century. By 1817, Robert Finley of New Jersey, influenced by Thomas Jefferson, started the American Colonization Society and was endorsed by ante-bellum moderates such as Jefferson's cousin John Randolph, Henry Clay, Richard Bland Lee and Abraham Lincoln. The idea of recolonization was met with mixed reactions from proponents and critics among the many different political and religious groups of the day.

Cmguy777 (talk) 03:59, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

As a first reaction to this draft alternative, I like the counter-points in Cmguy's specifics. They strengthen the proposed passage, without lengthy duplication of information found elsewhere in the article. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 04:17, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

@Cmguy777, TheVirginiaHistorian: -- Cm', after all your foot dragging you now surprise me. Good work, though your opening sentence presents the statement as absolute fact, rather than 'widely held', which I restored. I added a couple of other tweaks and replaced 'African Americans', a modern politically correct term that all blacks are not in agreement with, with 'freed slaves', which is the more accurate term and is what these blacks were considered as. Let's get some sources lined up.

Attempts at abolition and colonization[edit]

Although Jefferson owned many slaves during his life, it is widely held that he was opposed to the institution of slavery on both moral and practical grounds.[1] He made several attempts to advance legislation to abolish slavery, and later proposed colonization of freed slaves to an independent country of their own in Liberia.[2][3] Starting in 1779 Jefferson proposed a gradual emancipation plan of voluntary training, sponsorship and resettlement for slave families to the Virginia legislature. In 1784 Jefferson proposed to the United States Congress legislation that would cease slavery in the Western Territories in the year 1800, however, this legislation was defeated by one vote. In 1787, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, a partial victory for Jefferson, that ceased slavery in North West Territory. During Jefferson's lifetime much of Virginia society, as proven by Robert Carter's slave emancipation in 1791, was strongly opposed to freed slaves becoming citizens, while their colonization was viewed as an acceptable alternative. Following the Gabriel Prosser rebellion in the summer of 1800, Jefferson again proposed a colonization plan for freed slaves to prevent a violent race war.[4][5] Colonization became popular throughout the early 19th Century. By 1817, Robert Finley of New Jersey, influenced by Thomas Jefferson, started the American Colonization Society and was endorsed by a number of Antebellum statesman including Jefferson's cousin John Randolph, James Monroe, continuing on to Abraham Lincoln. The idea of recolonization was met with mixed reactions from proponents and critics among different political and religious groups of the day.[6]


  1. ^ Jefferson Foundation:Thomas Jefferson and Slavery
  2. ^ Helo, 2013, p.105
  3. ^ Hanson, McPherson, 1891, p. 17
  4. ^ Meacham, Jon (2012). Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Random House LLC. ISBN 9780679645368. p.326
  5. ^ Jefferson letter to David Bailey Warden 12.26.20 from Monticello. viewed 15 September 20014.
  6. ^ Sherwood, Henry Noble. “The Formation of the American Colonization Society”, The Journal of Negro History, Carter G. Woodson, ed., 1917 vol. II, p. 210-211.


  • Hanson, John; McPherson, Thomas (1891). History of Liberia. Johnson Reprint Corporation, 63 pages.  E'book

Reminder, when we add this subsection to the Slavery section, we'll have to delete some redundancies that will occur. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:02, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Thanks Gwillhickers and TheVirginiaHistorian. The paragraph looks great ! My only concern is the term "abolish slavery" Is there another way to rephrase the sentence? Possibly the phrase "to end slavery" or "to reduce slavery". Why not just mention Jefferson opposed slavery and then list his actions against slavery. For compromise sake, the paragraph can be added to the article without any changes. Cmguy777 (talk) 05:20, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
We're not referring to TJ as an 'Abolitionist', though he's generally regarded to be among the first, and was a central figure behind the idea. We shouldn't try to disassociate him from this idea. We've come this far. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:45, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
I have accepted the paragraph as is in the interest of compromise. However, the Baptist and Methodist Churches in addition to Carter's emancipation were the central figures behind abolitionism, that is the end of slavery and black citizenship. Jefferson was against black citizenship. Jefferson was influencial in founding gradual emancipation and colonization. Finley stated he was influenced by Jefferson, however, I have yet to find a letter that Jefferson endorsed Finley's American Colonization Society. Cmguy777 (talk) 17:51, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
Citizenship for freed slaves didn't have anything to do with abolitionism. Slavery's abolition could have occurred regardless of citizenship. Methodists and Baptists were each one voice among many but were not exactly central, as they were not involved in the actual drafting and effort to advance abolition before Congress and the courts. Besides, the section makes no claims about who was central. Here also, we'll let the readers decide. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:08, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
The 1782 law that let slave masters free their slaves by deed was passed when Jefferson was out of the Virginia legislature. Blacks were treated as equals in Baptist churches and Methodist churches were handing out these deeds to slave owners. Carter led the way by example and is known as the first American emancipator. The height of Jefferson's anti-slavery legislation was 1784. Carter released his slaves in 1791. Jefferson only released two slaves under this law while Carter freed hundreds. With that stated this article is on Jefferson and not on Jefferson vs Carter. Apparently the two were friends. Again. You can go ahead with the current paragraph. No need to get bogged down in discussion. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:09, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
In a different way Jefferson also served by way of example, time and again, and needless to say would have supported the 1782 law had he been present in the Virginia legislature at the time. Remember, Jefferson was unable to free his slaves and felt releasing unprepared slaves and their children was a risky venture, to say the least, and we have Carter who serves as a classic example of this. Again, releasing slaves required more than just a pat on the back and good luck wishes. Even with resources, the prospect of releasing slaves was pitted with danger. This is something modern day idealists fail to appreciate as they put their frozen dinner into the micro-wave with their pinky in the air. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 23:22, 15 September 2014 (UTC)


Sources/citations have been added to the first two statements, so far. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 09:45, 15 September 2014 (UTC)