Thomas Jefferson and the Meanings of Liberty Essays

841 Words Dec 2nd, 2013 4 Pages
Sydney Walker
Thomas Jefferson and the Meanings of Liberty
1. a.) Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were both representative of their time in the fact that they still held prejudices against different races. This was nothing but the norm for the 18th and 19th century. Jefferson owned slaves and Franklin, for most of his life, adamantly believed that African Americans were lesser. b.) But, quite unlike the mainstream ideals of their time, both men held strong ideals of equality. Franklin did at the end of his life reverse his ideas about African Americans, and dedicated many of his later years to equality for blacks. Jefferson also believed slavery to be an atrocious blot on the face of America. Their strong opinions of equality
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Jefferson owned slaves, but it’s important to know first that he detested the slave trade, and had only grown up knowing nothing but slave-owning. b.) Jefferson didn’t necessarily free his slaves for a variety of reasons. He was enormously in debt, and slave labor was obviously cheap. He also owed much of political career to slavery, as slavery helped him rise up in the ranks of government with money. He also could have feared for his slaves, in the almost crueler freed world where ex-slaves were ostracized in society to the point death and life destruction. c.) This question is not necessarily presentist because hypocrisy is definitive. Aspects of the question can be construed as presentist though because the disgust at Jefferson owning slaves is presentist as it imposes modern morals of anti-racism onto an inherently racist society.
4. a.) In the Declaration of Independence, liberty means both individual freedom and universal freedom. On one hand, the Declaration shows liberty as meaning one’s own right to pursuit of happiness, unbound by laws, whether good or bad. On the other hand, liberty means freedom for the people, and not just personal and selfish freedom. It can also be seen as the idea of national freedom, where the country itself is free from all tyrannical bonds. The Declaration of Independence most likely wanted to include all of these

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