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Friday, December 24, 2010


Thomas Jefferson, in "Notes on the State of Virginia" (1787), made the same two arguments against freeing the slaves that whites would later make against ending Jim Crow:
1. Race war:
                Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites;
                ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained;
                new provocations;
               the real distinctions nature has made;
                and many other circumstances,
will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.
2. Race mixing:
Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.
He compares blacks to whites. Here is some of it:
Blacks are ugly:
                Whites have "flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form".
                Even black men prefer white women over their own, just as orangutans prefer black women over their own.
Blacks smell bad:
They secrete less by the kidnies, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour.
Blacks like sex more but do not love as deeply:
They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation.
Blacks do not suffer as deeply:
Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them.
Blacks are better at music, but:
Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved.
Blacks are brave, but:
this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present.
Black intelligence:
in memory they are equal to the whites;
in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid;
and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.
Jefferson compares them to the white slaves of Rome who, despite living under crueler conditions, have produced great thinkers and writers - like Terence, Epictetus and Phaedrus - unlike blacks.
Blacks have good moral character. Yes. Apart from their lack of respect for property laws, which is understandable, there are:
numerous instances of the most rigid integrity, and as many as among their better instructed masters, of benevolence, gratitude, and unshaken fidelity.
In conclusion he says more study is required, so:
I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. ... This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people.

Source:"Black People According to Thomas Jefferson." Abagond (14 Dec. 2010)

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