In What Ways Did Thomas Jefferson Treat His Slaves Essay

Thomas Jefferson became one of the wealthiest men in America through the “ownership of land and slaves”(Takaki 56). The value of slaves and land doubled in approximately twenty years due to the “multiplication of [his] slaves…the extension of culture, and increased demands for lands”(Takaki 56). The main source of Thomas Jefferson’s wealth was derived from being an active slaveholder and landowner.

How did Jefferson treat his slaves?

Jefferson treated his slaves in a harsh manner. For instance, he “‘had [James Hubbard, a captured runaway slave,] severely flogged in the presence of his old companions’”(Takaki 56). Jefferson also punished slaves in “ter-rorem” to others and sold them away to slave traders, making it seem as though the slave got killed (Takaki 56). He instilled fears in other slaves by treating the “undisciplined” slaves brutally in front of them; this would serve as an example of consequences for slaves.

If Jefferson was committed to the institution of slavery, why did he believe it was an immoral institution as well?

Jefferson believed that slavery was an immoral institution. Jefferson confessed, “‘The love of justice and the love of country plead equally the cause of these people [slaves]…and it is a moral reproach to us that they should have pleaded it so long in vain.…’”(Takaki 56). Jefferson believed that slavery was unethical; the institution threatened the survival of the American nation and clashed with the ideals of justice and liberty the nation was founded upon. Ironically, Jefferson felt guilt for the ownership of slaves.

As we delve deeper into Jefferson’s dilemma, how did he see the institution of slavery affecting the master (planter) class, their children and future generations of whites?

The institution of slavery affected the planter class negatively. Jefferson felt contrition; he stated “the torment of mind, I will endure till the moment shall arrive when I shall not owe a shilling on earth is such really as to render life of little value”(Takaki 56). Jefferson felt that his guilt and “torment of mind” will not perish until the slaves were given their liberty, and he has not a single one under his “unremitting despotism”(Takaki 57). He believed that children would emulate the exchanges between master and slave. Last but not least, Jefferson believed that slavery threatened the racial purity of the nation. “The Blot.” or the increasing black population, paved the way for the rise of mulattoes, which Jefferson was strongly against.

What was Jefferson’s plan to emancipate slaves?

Jefferson planned to “deport the future generation [to Haiti]: black infants would be taken from their mothers and trained for occupations until they reached a proper age for deportation” (Takaki 57). This plan was practicable because not much slave property value would be lost, since the cost per infant was about $22.50. Deporting the entire black population at once would be an extensive and costly process; however, Jefferson’s plan would lead to the eventual disappearance of this race in the nation.

Why was deportation an essential part of Jefferson’s emancipation plan?

Deportation was an essential part of Jefferson’s emancipation plan. Although he believed in the liberation of slaves, he believed that blacks had to be removed from society as soon as possible once they were freed. Jefferson claimed that “blacks and whites could never coexist in America because of ‘the real distinctions’ which ‘nature’ had made between the two races”(Takaki 57). According to Jefferson blacks were distinct from whites in their skin complexion and intellectual capabilities, and thus they had to be separated from one another.

How did Jefferson view African Americans as a race, whether free or enslaved?

Jefferson viewed African Americans as intellectually inferior to whites. This is seen when he undermines two knowledgeable African Americans, Poet Phillis Wheatley and Mathematician Benjamin Banneker. Jefferson dismissed Wheatley’s poetry, which insisted that African Americans were just as capable of Christian virtue and salvation, as “compositions…below the dignity of criticism”(Takaki 58). He even discredited her abilities as a poet. As for Benjamin Banneker, “Jefferson claimed that the mathematician had ‘a mind of very common stature,’and that the black scholar had aid from Andrew Ellicot, a white neighbor who ‘never missed an opportunity of puffing him’”(Takaki 58). In other words, Jefferson did not give Banneker his deserved recognition and attributed his success and knowledge to the assistance of a white man. Jefferson generalized African Americans as an inept race, and disparaged them.

How did Jefferson’s views contribute to the social construct of African Americans as inferior to whites?

Jefferson’s views contribute to the social construct of African Americans as inferior to whites. His views create a parallel to The Tempest, where “Like Prospero, he insisted that… ‘nurture’ could not improve the ‘nature’ of blacks”(Takaki 59). He insists that the laws of nature have created blacks mentally inferior to whites, for they also belonged to a “libidinous race,” a quality depicted in savages. Jefferson’s views espoused white supremacy.

How did Jefferson’s views conflict with his relationship with Sally Hemmings? What was the outcome of their union?

Jefferson’s views conflict with his relationship with Sally Hemmings. Despite Jefferson’s “abhorrence of interracial sex,” he had sexual relations with Mistress Sally Hemmings, a mulatto slave inherited by Jefferson’s wife (Takaki 60). Hemmings “‘gave birth to a child [upon arrival in Virginia] of whom Jefferson was the father. It lived but a short time.’She [then] gave birth to four more of Jefferson’s children—Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston”(Takaki 61). Their union had led to Sally Hemmings becoming Jefferson’s concubine, despite his denial of the controversy.

While considering Jefferson’s multiple dilemmas, analyze why he referred to the entrenchment of slavery as having “… the wolf by the ears”.

Jefferson states “we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other”(Takaki 62). The wolf is symbolic of the slaves. If the slavery institution is continued, the slaves would grow angry, posing a threat to societal order through the rise of slave revolts and violence. However, if slavery was stopped, the nation’s economy is put at risk since slavery was a necessity in the South (e.g. the Cotton Kingdom). There was a growing opposition to slavery in America due to ethical reasons, but getting rid of such a deep rooted institution would only cause the demise of the nation and its economy.

Chapter 4: Towards the Stony Mountain

How was Jackson’s fortune and wealth tied to the fate of Native Americans?

Jackson’s fortune and wealth was tied to the fate of Native Americans because he engaged in land speculation, or the buying and selling of lands that belonged to the Native Americans. “Jackson paid $100 for twenty-five hundred acres at the Chickasaw bluffs on the Mississippi and immediately sold half of this property for $312. He kept the rest of the land until 1818, when he sold it for $5,000. Jackson had personally negotiated the Chickasaw treaty and opened the area to white settlement in 1814”(Takaki 69). Jackson bought land from Native American tribes and sold it ahead for a massive profit. His acquisition of the land was his main source of wealth; consequently, the Indians were being removed and forced to move westwards.

How did Jackson view the Native Americans he was fighting against?

Jackson viewed the Native Americans he was fighting against as “‘savage bloodhounds’ and ‘blood thirsty barbarians’”(Takaki 69). In the Battle of Horse Shoe Bend (March 1814), Jackson shows a deep-tasted hatred for the “hostile” and “savage” Creeks, and vows to kill “‘from eight to ten of them’”(Takaki 69). This perception is due to the fact that the Creeks killed more than two hundred “unoffending” whites at Fort Mims; Jackson views them as violent and untamed.

How did Jackson justify the brutality and extermination of Native American tribes?

Jackson justified the brutality and extermination of Native American tribes by vilifying the Indians and implying that these actions were taken forth for the wellbeing of the nation. After a bloody victory, Jackson states “The fiends … will no longer murder our women and children, or disturb the quiet of our borders… the wilderness which now withers in sterility and seems to mourn the desolation which overspreads it, will blossom as the rose”(Takaki 69). Jackson justifies the acts as a necessary evil needed to protect the people from similar occurrences of violence such as the one at Fort Mims. According to Jackson, this act was needed for the progression of the nation towards civilization (done with productive use of lands).

When Jackson became President, did his treatment of Native Americans change? Or did it stay the same?

When Jackson became President, the Native Americans were coerced into moving westwards. The natives were stripped of their property and forced to concede to the terms set by the government. Jackson claimed presidential powerlessness to easily abolish Indian tribal units and allow for the appropriation of their lands. For instance, Jackson refused to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision that “ruled that states could not legally extend their jurisdiction into Indian territory”(Takaki 70).

What are some examples of Jackson practicing paternalism towards Native Americans?

Jackson practiced paternalism towards Native Americans by referring to them as his children. Jackson stated, “‘I feel conscious of having done my duty to my red children, and if any failure of my good intentions arises, it will be attributable to their want of duty to themselves, not to me’”(Takaki 70). Jackson claimed to have the Indians in his best interest and protect them from the covetous nature of white man, who seeked progress and civilization. He warned against the consequences if the natives resisted the authority of the white man and their request to remove themselves from the territory.

Who were the Choctaws and how were their way of living impacted by European contact?

The Choctaws were an agriculture-based Native American peoples from Mississippi. Their way of living was impacted by European contact because they started to resemble more of what the white men considered “civilization.” In fact, the “Choctaws [raised] cattle and live[d] like white men, for the time of ‘hunting and living by the Gun’ was nearly over. Choctaws also cultivated cotton for the market”(Takaki 72). The Chiefs of Choctaw, such as Greenwood LeFlore, owned cotton fields and slaves. The Choctaws moved away from the practice of Comunalism and adopted a European-like economy based on the cultivation of cotton and domestication of animals.

How were the Choctaws forced to move from their land?

The Choctaws were forced to move from their land through the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which was secured through intimidation. After the Choctaws turned down the negotiation for the acquisition of land and the removal of the Indians beyond Mississippi, the federal commissioners demanded “remaining chiefs that the Choctaws must move or be governed by Mississippi state law. If they resisted, they would be destroyed by federal forces”(Takaki 72). The Choctaws had to cede their land and migrate westward, though they were given the option of staying in Mississippi and receiving a land grant.

What was the land grant system? How did it impact the lives of Native Americans?

The land grant system was a land allotment program where “Choctaw families and individuals were instructed to register with an Indian agent within six months after ratification of the treaty if they wished to remain in Mississippi and receive a land grant”(Takaki 73). This impacted the lives of Native Americans because it enabled for Native Americans (who wished to stay within the nation’s borders) to individually own land. However, these land grants were revoked once the Indians failed to repay their debts; the land would be taken by whites, including squatters, causing white expansion.

What are the similarities between the Choctaw and the Cherokee experience?

Both, the Choctaw and the Cherokee, were forced out of their territory and had a tough journey as they moved west; “Not only the cold weather but also diseases like cholera stalked the migrants”(Takaki 74). The Choctaw and Cherokee were both dispossessed of their lands and moved “legally” through the signing of treaties. The Choctaw were forced to agree to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, which “provided that the Choctaws cede all of their 10,423,130 acres to the federal government and migrate to lands west of the Mississippi River”(Takaki 73). Similarly, the “Cherokees would cede their land and be removed in exchange for a payment of $3,250,000” (Takaki 75).

What was the Treaty of New Echota and what was its impact on Native American relations with the state of Georgia?

The Treaty of New Echota provided that the “Cherokees would cede their land and be removed for a payment of $3,250,000”(Takaki 75). The treaty was not ratified by a full tribe, being that only a small portion of the Cherokees attended the meeting at New Echota, where Schermerhorn arranged to present the treaty. The Cherokees felt cheated and “tried to block the treaty’s approval in Congress”(Takaki 76). They protested and petitioned against the treaty only to be suppressed by military forces.

What were the causes of the Trail of Tears?

The Trail of Tears was caused by the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The enforcement of this act was possible through the use of military forces. “The soldiers first erected internment camps and then rounded up the Cherokees. ‘Families at dinner were startled…and rose up to be driven with blows and oaths along the weary miles of trail that led to the stockade’”(Takaki 76). The Cherokees were gathered and forced to go on the trail. They were dragged out of their homes without notice and put on these trails unprepared, where they would face severe conditions of weather, sickness, etc.

Why is the Trail of Tears considered to be a national tragedy?

The Trail of Tears is considered to be a national tragedy because “more than four thousand Cherokees—nearly one-fourth of this exiled Indian nation—died on what they have bitterly remembered as the ‘Trail of Tears’”(Takaki 77). The Trail of Tears is not only saddening due to the astounding number of Native American deaths, but also because it was caused by the separation of the natives from their homelands, which they recall with pain.