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Thomas Jefferson was a historical hypocrite.

April 13, 2016

 

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States who wrote the US declaration of independence including the famous line that said "That all men are created equal" was one of the biggest slave owners in Virginia with well over 600 slaves.

He didn't just stop at owning them, he personally oversaw their work and made sure that those he found "slacking" were brutally whipped and flogged. 

Jefferson even worked slave boys ages 10 to 16 in his nail factory on Mulberry Row. After it opened in 1794, for the first three years, Jefferson recorded the productivity of each child. He selected those who were most productive to be trained as artisans: blacksmiths, carpenters, and coopers. Those who performed the worst were assigned as field laborers.

According to historian Lucia Stanton, Jefferson authorized his overseers to use physical violence against slaves, though probably not as much as some of his neighbors.

Jame Hubbard was a slave in the nailery who ran away on two occasions. The first time Jefferson did not have him whipped, but on the second Jefferson reportedly ordered him severely flogged. Hubbard was likely resold to another slave owner after spending time in jail.


 

 Ruins of Jefferson's Nail Factory at Monticello.



Stanton says children suffered physical violence. When a 17-year-old James was sick, one overseer reportedly whipped him "three times in one day." Violence was commonplace on plantations, including Jefferson's.

Henry Wiencek cited within a Smithsonian Magazine article several reports of Jefferson ordering the whipping or selling of slaves as punishments for extreme misbehavior or escape.

Despite beating and jailing his slaves, Jefferson had also a longstanding relationship with a slave named Sally Hemings, and that the two had at least one and perhaps as many as six children together.


In his public life, Jefferson made statements denouncing blacks as biologically inferior and claiming that a biracial American society was impossible.
 

Jefferson was also very good friends with Thaddeus Kosciuszko, one of the heroes of the American revolution and the leader of the Polish uprising in 1794.
 

Kosciuszko, who could not bear seeing his friend Jefferson being a slave owner, bequeathed all his land in the US to Jefferson, so he could sell the land and use the money to free his slaves.

 

Jefferson kept Kosciuszko's land, and never freed his slaves.
 



Sources:


http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-dark-side-of-thomas-jefferson-35976004/


https://www.amazon.com/Peasant-Prince-Thaddeus-Kosciuszko-Revolution/dp/0312625944


http://www.nytimes.com/1998/11/01/us/dna-test-finds-evidence-of-jefferson-child-by-slave.html?pagewanted=all

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