I’m reading Thomas Jefferson’s Memoirs for no other reason than I have always liked what I heard of him. So why not read him in his own words, although reading 18th Century English is surely a challenge.
I’m thinking for now that writing in a “stream of consciousness” manner is best to get this project moving. It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how much of my earlier thoughts change as we get deeper into Jefferson’s memoirs and related writings.
So, very early on, like within the first ten pages or so, Jefferson expresses sympathies against the institution of slavery. So much so that one of his first attempts at legislation was the emancipation of slaves. This effort came when he was a legislator in the colonies under British rule.
Jefferson states, “In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, and so continued until it was closed by the Revolution. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal cold expect success (The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Memoirs, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, by Thomas Jefferson).”
I’m wondering at this point how these early sympathies comport with future opportunities to end slavery and his contribution to the debate during the writing of the US Constitution. Of even more interest is how these sympathies hold up considering his treatment of the slaves his family owned, particularly those who tended the land he inherited from his father.
Reading on, as time permits.