Primary Source: Thomas Jefferson’s Racism, 1788


Primary Source: Thomas Jefferson’s Racism, 1788

Create a multi-paragraph response to deal with the following questions:

1. Do his conclusions hold up to logical and thorough scrutiny? Why or why not?  Explain in full.

2. What scientific basis does he offer for such conclusions? What is the rigor applied to those conclusions? Are they science? Explain.

3. What was his purpose in composing this essay? Explain carefully.  Does he have any stake in asserting what he does here? Analyze his words, what influence could they have? Who is his audience? What is he trying to do?

4. First, how would a slave owner react to Jefferson’s ideas? Explain. Second, how would an abolitionist humanitarian react to Jefferson’s ideas? Explain in detail.

5. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776 which made many compelling statements. How are the promises of the Declaration of Independence contrary to what he states here in this document? Cite key quotes for analysis and comparison.


                             Thomas Jefferson’s Racism, 1788

In the article about “Thomas Jefferson’s Racism, 1788,” a part of his book “Notes on the State of Virginia,” he gives his views on race and slavery. However, the irrationality in his assertions about black slaves and emancipation plans points to his other strategy in implementing the racial imperative. Additionally, through the irrationally in Jefferson’s conclusions against blacks, he excluded them from the jurisdiction of reason while as he uses “we,” he incorporates the reader thus exclusively embraced within the domain of reason (Thomas, 1785). He implements this judgment by the rhetoric of authority, explicitly rejecting appeals to law, reason, and logic. Reason is viewed as more than an enlightened method of analysis and perception that serves the same role of faith in traditional religion. The linguistic aspect of the racial imperative in Jefferson’s conclusions renders them rhetorically self-evident and offers the reader membership in the racially elect scared circle. Therefore, being excluded from reason which is compared to grace for the Christian, the reader is outside the pale of its saving embrace and thus condemned to the secular domination. Nonetheless, Jefferson did not invent the ongoing prejudice against blacks; thus, he certainly was not the first to view them with contempt or to consciously implement the racial imperative mood.   Moreover, his conclusions do not hold up logical scrutiny because, in such a time of increasing antislavery and rising tide of equalitarian, legislation, thoughts, and actions, he took advantage of the existing prejudices, popularity as a philosopher and statesman, and his self-created image during the American Revolution to influence the course of pro-African activism and sentiment.

The coexistence of blacks and whites was politically objected to, and Jefferson proceeds to articulate a set of physical differences between the two. By stating that “The first difference which strikes us is that of colour,” his conclusions invite an erudite-sounding scientific hypothesis through the source of the “black of the negro” where he states that whichever the case “the difference is fixed in nature; and is as real as if it’s seat and cause were better known to us” (Thomas, 1785). Jefferson shows that the difference is metaphysical, psychological, aesthetic, or physical and emphasizes its importance. Upon realizing that the sources of blacks’ color are unknown and perhaps unknowable, Jefferson explains “other physical distinctions proving a difference of race” by introducing a new scientific hypothesis of his own and referring to two centuries of natural philosophy…………for help with this assignment contact us via Email Address:

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