Thomas Jefferson

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

— Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, 1776

Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They [blacks] have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies (sic), and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour … They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation … Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

— Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Viginia, pp. 264-266, 1781

One thought on “Thomas Jefferson

  1. Yeesh. Well, I suppose that all of the founding fathers would have said similar things, if asked. Still, one wishes that he wrote those things before he authored the DOI, thus showing that his thinking had evolved.

    The Declaration wasn’t very kind toward the American Indians, either.

    I read recently that Jefferson’s standing in presidential polls has fallen somewhat in the past 20 years, mainly due to the Sally Hemmings stories. He’s still in the top 10 — usually in the top six — but lower.

    He was a brilliant man, but not perfect, of course.

    One wonders if we will ever have another president almost universally hailed as “great.” I’d like to come back in another 100 or 200 years and see if anyone not yet born will crash into the Top Five.

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