Sample Term Paper On Thomas Jefferson And Harriet Ann Jacobs: A Comprised View

Type of paper: Term Paper

Topic: Slavery, Jacobs, Life, Slave, Education, Society, Plantation, Time

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/15

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Today, the United States attempt to create a society wherein all people, man, woman, black, white, gay, and straight, are created and treated equally. However, this is not always so. The country has endured many trials, the biggest of not being the Revolutionary war that effectively won them their independence, and the Civil War, which began the end of slavery. In fact, the abolition of slavery is widely considered one of the greatest triumphs in U.S. history. The time, there were of course two views on the subject. Accurate representations are that of Harriet Ann Jacobs’, a slave, and Thomas Jefferson, a free, white man. Jacobs believed all people should be allowed to live their lives freely, while Jefferson, having believed slaves were not generally below whites, did not appear to have more use for them than slavery itself. Their views appear to differ primarily on the subject of education, as well as the fact that Jacobs’ lived the life of a slave. Jefferson did not take racism or abuse into account when considering slavery. While both sides are apt descriptions of slavery at the time, and Jefferson’s is still progressive given the year, Jacobs’ is a more accurate representation.
Thomas Jefferson is, of course, known for his famous, “All men are created equal,” addition to the Constitution. While it sounds like this quote would have been a deciding factor on Jefferson’s stance toward slavery, it appears based on some reading that he was either impartial toward the slaves. For example, he stated in, “Notes on the States of Virginia,” that he could not find, “a black that uttered a level of thought above plain narration; never see even an elementary painting or sculpture (Jefferson 120).” It appears Jefferson saw no value for slaves in high society, disregarding entirely their lack of education or the fact that education is necessary for individuals to participate in sophisticated conversation, painting, and sculpting without natural talent for them. However, Jefferson does not necessarily hate the slaves, nor is he racist against African Americans as many people were of this time. As a slave owner, he recognizes the differences, but does not see them as a demeaning feature, affirming, “the difference is as fixed as nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. Moreover, is this difference of no importance? Is this not the difference of a greater or less share of a beauty between two races? (Jefferson 119). Therefore, while Jefferson does not believe all individuals should be free, he bases this on the black individual’s intelligence. He has not observed a slave in a sophisticated situation, as he as a white individual and thus considers them only good for slave labor, but does not consider them less worthy of life than himself. Harriet Ann Jacobs has views that vary and contrast when compared to Jefferson’s ideas. To begin with, her tale is full of woe and misery. She lived the life of a slave and understood what it was like to truly be considered less worthy of life and equality than her lighter skinned peers are. Similarly, to other young female slaves, she suffered at the hands of her cruel slave master, often being abused physically, mentally, and sexually. She utters plainly, “in slavery the very dawn of life is darkened by these shadows (Jacobs).” Pain and sorrow was all she knew from her birth until her eventual escape. Despite her many trials however, she testifies she is not asking for sympathy, but only wishes to tell her story, and to have the true circumstances of a slave understood. For example, Jacobs’ reveals the fear she felt from her plantation owner: “I knelt by my mother's grave, his dark shadow fell on me even there. The light heart which nature had given me became heavy with sad forebodings (Jacobs). Jacobs’ could not do anything as simple as mourn over her dead mother without her plantation owner calling upon her, scaring her, or making her life miserable. Slave masters were also highly sexually abusive toward their slaves. For instance, Jacobs’ writes, “My master was, to my knowledge, the father of eleven slaves (Jacobs).” Her disclosures about slave life also negate some of Jefferson’s views, as she divulges many slaves, including her, were eager to learn. Many would do so in secret. Furthermore, while Jefferson may have seen the slaves as equals to a certain extent, it is unclear about the rules in which he placed on his slaves. Jacobs’ speaks clearly about the many rules she lives under, both by her master, and a watchful, vindictive mistress.
In sum, while Jefferson’s views on slaves were not as offensive as others, there were still misinformed. Jacobs’ views were far more accurate, obviously, because she lived the life of a slave. Jefferson’s views are based on speculation of a slave’s life. His core beliefs were based on the idea that society should be run by the education. It is a justified system; however, he neglected to remember that everybody should have a right to education in order for society to be fair. Instead, Jefferson simply observes that slaves are less sophisticated than whites are and offer little to cultured society. He sees little difference in their skin color, considering the slaves no less than considering himself. His major discrepancy is with their intelligence, and he is happy treating his slaves fairly on his plantation. Jacobs, however, understood not all slaves were treated fairly. Moreover, she understood that slaves wanted to learn and were eager to learn. If given the chance, they could contribute to sophisticated, cultured society much like the white population at the time. Furthermore, her views on slavery revolved around the abuse of slaves that took place on plantations that were more abusive than Jefferson’s plantation. Not all plantation owners were as fair or as progressive as Jefferson, suggesting Jefferson took far less into account concerning slaves than we ever considered. Concerning the lives of slaves, the views of Jacobs and Jefferson differ, but Jacobs’ view is far more comprehensive and, therefore, probably more accurate.

Works Cited

1. Thomas Jefferson “Notes on the State of Virginia” 17812. Harriet Ann Jacobs “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”1861

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WePapers. (2020, November, 15) Sample Term Paper On Thomas Jefferson And Harriet Ann Jacobs: A Comprised View. Retrieved September 18, 2021, from
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WePapers. 2020. "Sample Term Paper On Thomas Jefferson And Harriet Ann Jacobs: A Comprised View." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved September 18, 2021. (
"Sample Term Paper On Thomas Jefferson And Harriet Ann Jacobs: A Comprised View," Free Essay Examples -, 15-Nov-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 18-Sep-2021].
Sample Term Paper On Thomas Jefferson And Harriet Ann Jacobs: A Comprised View. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 15, 2020. Accessed September 18, 2021.

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