Why was Jefferson a bad person for owning slaves?

Many other people did, right?

and who even defines right or wrong? they don't really exist..


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Well, the situation is kind of complex. Jefferson is at least in part the product of his times and his society. He was raised by his family, his government, his education, and his clergy to believe that slavery was natural and that the Africans who were enslaved were inferior, even to the point (incredibly) that they were somehow better off being slaves.

    However, Jefferson thought slavery was more wrong than many of his contemporaries. He certainly thought the African slave trade was a horrible evil, as he said in a clause in the Declaration of Independence which was eventually edited out. In his Letters to the State of Virginia he said that if it came down to a race war, God would not be on the side of white slave holders. He emancipated some of his slaves, and no one forced him to do so. He ended the African slave trade as president. He stopped the slave market in Washington D. C., and he admitted the entire Northwest Territory as a free territory.

    "and who even defines right or wrong? they don't really exist.. "
    Where were you at Nuremburg? The Nazis could have used a lawyer and judges like you.

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What Girls Said 4

  • It's complicated. Slavery was obviously incredibly wrong, and owning slaves was morally wrong. But considering the prevalent attitudes in the era, I don't know that you can say for certain whether doing certain things and holding certain views makes someone a bad person. Societal programming is an incredibly strong force. So honestly, if a person is at least somewhat ahead of their time, and at least doing some resisting of societal programming, I'd at least give them credit for that. Now, I'm not aware of to what degree Jefferson did that, but as far as I know he did treat his slaves relatively well compared to many others. So I'll take what I can get.

    Basically, considering the time, and comparing Jefferson to the average in his time, he may well actually have been better than most. Now, in this day and age doings things like what he did would make you a horrible person, but that's because today it's made damn clear to everyone that slavery was a horrible and injust thing. (Note that this is all speaking as a white girl, so my view may be somewhat skewed. Please correct me if you find some flaw in my explanation.)

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    • Comparatively speaking, Jefferson's ideas on slavery was more enlightened than many of his contemporaries. He despised the African slave trade and ended it. In his Letters to the State of Virginia he likened slavery to holding a wolf by the ears. You don't want to keep it, but you're terrified of letting it go. In those same letters he said he believed God would not be on the side of slaveholders if it came to a race war. He said he believed it was bounded in the book of destiny that African slaves should one day be free.

      Interestingly enough, President Adams, who never owned a single slave and voiced his dislike of the entire instution, did almost NOTHING to end it or stop it's spread. Jefferson on the other hand did quite a bit.

    • @LauraMarx
      "Jefferson had a slave's teeth cut out of his face to replace his own cuz they were rotting. "
      I believe you are confusing Jefferson and Washington. Washington did use his slaves' teeth, but he PAID them for the teeth. It was a common practice back in the 18th century, even among white people, to sell their teeth.

  • Jefferson loved banging the slaves too. Some black people can trace back their heritage back to Jefferson. Probably why he owned so many

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  • My grandpa had 2 but my mommy said he was reeealllyyy nice to them O_o

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  • How would you like to be chained up and whipped. ?

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    • Perhaps if someone told him, while he is being whipped, or raped, or murdered, "and who even defines right or wrong? they don't really exist.. " he might be OK with it.

    • As a grown man you should tell me if they do..

What Guys Said 12

  • Slavery is wrong no matter what era it is

    fc04.deviantart.net/.../...everknowwho-d6m6usm.jpg

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  • owning slaves?

    inhuman bro... inhuman... 8)

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  • Since right and wrong "don't really exist" is it okay with you if I steal all your most valuable possessions?

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  • You're essentially arguing for moral relativism, and that's an incredibly slippery slope. It's one I personally disagree with strongly.

    So yes, Jefferson committed terrible acts against other humans, and means that, at least while he was doing so, he was a bad person. All slave owners were bad people.

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    • Subjective morality is a fact.

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    • I disagree all morals are subhective..

    • Your question didn't ask if Jefferson's actions were morally sound according to his time and place. You asked if his actions make him a bad person.

      Owning slaves is evil, therefore Jefferson engaged in an act that, at least to some degree, makes him a bad person.

  • Because the same people that were trying to establish equality and shouting it out to the rooftops like it was an ideal to be cherished weren't actually abiding by it.

    How does this not make sense to you? Use your head.

    If your parents told you not to smoke weed, while smoking weed in the living room themselves, would you not be a little skeptical?

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  • It was the raping part we're not fond of.

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  • Jefferson wasn't bad for owning slaves, he was bad for actually thinking blacks were an inferior race.
    I'll remind you that Jefforson was kinda the first democrat ever.

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    • does this make all other white people back then bad too?

    • Well... Just about bruh.
      There were people who didn't believe slavery was right.
      Several famous people.

  • SO I GUESS SLAUGHTERING THE NATIVES AND BLACKS WAS FINE.

    TYPICAL SAVAGE WHITE MAN. YOU NEED TO GO GUY TO Europe AND STAY THERE.

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  • Because of political correctness. Besides, founding fathers took effort to abolish slavery but did not succeed.

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  • George Washington also owned slaves

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    • Well yeah, but there's no record of abuse, and he also freed them.
      As bad as it may sound, the safest place for black people to be in that era was on the estate of a "kind owner."
      Look at it this way, if George Washington had freed his slaves as he bought them, someone much worse would've put them back into slavery or killed them outright.

  • It's hard to judge someone from 17th century through a 21st century lens.

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  • It was the norm. Actually, he would have been seen as weird for NOT owning slaves.

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