Analysis Of Jefferson And The Problem Of Slavery By William Cohen

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William Cohen, “Jefferson and the Problem of Slavery,” Journal of American History 56, no 3 (1969): 503-526
Thomas Jefferson is one of the pioneers who laid the foundation for what is now The United States of America. Jefferson is also reflected to be one of the most controversial because of his juxtaposing political posture of race and slave compared to his personal beliefs on this same matter. He, along with other “Founding Fathers,” owned slaves but also believed that all men were created and meant to be treated equally. William Cohen in his article, “Jefferson and the Problem of Slavery,” talks about the complexity and contradictions of Thomas Jefferson through his political actions as compared to his personal practices. Jefferson was complex
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One of the unjust practices that white slave owners performed was the use of establishing control or dominance over their slaves through violence or other means. Slaves were often severely beaten for running away; Jefferson did not differ in such punishments of his slaves. Cohen details this in the story of Jame Hubbard, whom was one of Jefferson’s slaves. Hubbard was a slave that escaped several times. Jefferson made multiple attempts to capture this slave and would have him flogged for escaping. He was a politician that vouched for the freedom of slaves but he would punish any of his slaves that ran away in hopes of getting this treatment. He would “use whatever means they felt necessary to protect their peculiar form of property” (Cohen, 57). Although he treated his slaves better than other masters, he would establish control over any of his slaves by punishing them either through flogging them or other forms of violence. Another way of establishing control over their slaves was having the power to change the slaves’ lives by selling them. Although he claimed to not believe in the selling and purchase of other men, he would use the selling of a slave to serve as a punishment for misbehavior, or upon the slave’s own request. When he would be pressed for money, he would also sell one, or more, of his

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