Statement of Thomas Jefferson regarding the freedom and disposition of Negroes, 1821.
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U.S. Library of Congress citation:
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Thomas Jefferson, July 27, 1821, Autobiography Draft Fragment, January 6 through
July 27, from the Thomas Jefferson and William Short Correspondence, Transcribed
and Edited by Gerard W. Gawalt, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
PDF pp. 61-62:
Feb. 8, 1821, extract of entry for that date, full paragraph:
“The bill on the subject of slaves was a mere digest of the existing laws respecting them, without any intimation of a plan for a future & general emancipation. It was thought better that this should be kept back, and attempted only by way of amendment whenever the bill should be brought on. [Note 1 Cf. post, with Notes on Virginia in this edition.] The principles of the amendment however were agreed on, that is to say, the freedom of all born after a certain day, and deportation at a proper age. But it was found that the public mind would not yet bear the proposition, nor will it bear it even at this day. Yet the day is not distant when it must bear and adopt it, or worse will follow. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peaceably and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be pari passu filled up by free white laborers. If on the contrary it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up. We should in vain look for an example in the Spanish deportation or deletion of the Moors. This precedent would fall far short of our case.”
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[The Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C. just says, on one of its marble placards, “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free,” obviously giving an entirely different connotation to what Jefferson said. Jefferson was against the continuation of slavery, but had expressly stated that emancipation was to be followed by deportation. This is the technique of “quoting short passages out of context” -- beware. – JR, 5-13-02]
Thomas Jefferson Papers
Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827.
Thomas Jefferson, July 27, 1821, Autobiography Draft Fragment, January 6 through July 27.
The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes. Federal Edition. Collected and Edited by Paul Leicester Ford.
URL info updated 2/24/2016.
URL info updated 2/24/2016.