Thomas Jefferson: a Man of Many Dimensions

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Gibson 1 Cassandra Gibson Erik Iverson United States History I March 1, 2012 Thomas Jefferson: A Man of Many Dimensions Thomas Jefferson’s inspirational words proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence have a spine-tingling effect, leaving readers with chills, but yet enlightened and proud. I can imagine Thomas Jefferson sitting at his desk, passion pouring onto the paper with each stroke of his pen as he endlessly works throughout the day, candlelight by night, searching for the perfect words for what would become the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty. “All men are created equal . . . they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . . Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – extremely powerful words coming from the same man who owned over 180 slaves; the same man who also wrote that Blacks “are inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind” (Jefferson 270); the same man who did almost nothing to abolish slavery during his 40 years in the political arena of Virginia and the new republic (Magnis 492). It is clear through Jefferson’s contradictions between his inspirational words declared in the Declaration of Independence and his actions, writings and political behaviors that in his mind “all men” did not include Black men. Surprisingly, Jefferson was not concerned with originality when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and even borrowed language from previous writings. George Mason drafted a form of a declaration of rights for Virginia, in which he declared “all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights . . . among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty” (McCullough 121). Jefferson also added language from a pamphlet published in

Gibson 2 1774 by Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson who declared, “all men are, by nature equal and free: no one has a right to any…...

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