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The Issues And Impacts Of Slavery In Jefferson's Republic

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Autor:   •  November 9, 2010  •  1,487 Words (6 Pages)  •  2,078 Views

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Throughout chapter 6 in John Hollitz's Thinking Through the Past issues were brought up about the Jefforsonian Republican ideology and the impacts of slavery upon it. The chapter included a secondary source from the author Ronald T. Tanaka correctly named, Within the Ð''Bowels' of the Republic that identified the issues surrounding Thomas Jefferson's views on slavery in the post-revolution era.

Tanaka took an in-depth view on the state of slavery after the American Revolution and the issues Jefferson faced as a result of the slavery of blacks and the ongoing presence of the Native population. Tanaka stated many truths about Jefferson's ideology throughout the secondary source that paralleled arguments apparent in the primary documents found later in Hollitiz's book. The major argument facilitated throughout Tanaka's article was that of Jefferson's desire for a Republican where citizens shared the same values and beliefs. Among the other recurring arguments that were noted in both Tanaka's essay and primary sources were Jefferson's outlook on the fears and threats the Blacks and Indians bestowed on Jefferson's new found republic and the fact the majority of Indians did not want to be assimilated into the Americans ways of life and were willing to rebel against the stern fist of Jefferson were evident in both the primary and secondary sources. Tanaka's secondary source, Within the Ð''Bowels' of the Republic exemplified the issues and impacts of both the Native people and the Black slaves on Jefferson's ideology of a homogenous society, which were concurrent with the historical sources found later in Hollitz's chapter 6.

Throughout Tanaka's paper the theme of a needed Republican society in America was very strong. Thomas Jefferson wanted purity within the United States and peace with Britain was only a starting point for such a Republic to emerge. Blacks were considered to be a parasite that would not allow the Republican to survive because of their lack of independence and self-control (Hollitz, pg. 110). Jefferson further justified this argument in a passage from Notes on the State of Virginia where he expresses his opinion that Blacks were instinctive and as a result can never foresee problems, instead they were caught off guard; those characteristics would certainly cause anarchy in a Republican society (Hollitz, pg. 118). Tanaka was successful in portraying the lack of moral sense Blacks had and how they were obstacles in the way of Jefferson's dream of a Republic in America. The Native population held a similar dilemma for Jefferson in his aspirations for a homogenous society. Tanaka's explains that Indians carried some characteristics that could have been useful and prosperous in a republican society, "Ð' Jefferson's mind, Indians had potential blacks did not have: They had the intelligence capable of development which could enable them to carry out the commands of their moral sense" (Hollitz, pg.115). Tanaka expresses the fact that Jefferson viewed the Indians as possible compliant citizens of Virginia however; the Natives did not wish to be submissive to the way of American life. Jefferson's articulated in a letter to William Henry Harrison that the current state of Indians in 1803 was problematic and changes to their beliefs and ways of life were necessary in order to ensure a thriving republic, "The decrease of game rendering their subsistence by hunting insufficient, we wish to draw them to agriculture, to spinning and weaving" (Hollitz, pg.120). As both Tanaka and Jefferson alluded to, the Native population was a serious barrier to the formation of Jefferson's republic if they continued their former habits of hunting and living off the land.

Tanaka's secondary source concentrated on many aspects of the fears and threats Jefferson felt because of the slavery of the black people. Tanaka illustrated the threat of rebellion by the blacks in his essay by reiterating the fact that the blacks cultivated together against the issue of slavery and minor revolts had sprung out through the southern parts of America. More specifically Tanaka recalled the bloody rebellion of Santo Domingo where slaves rebelled and caused much bloodshed (Hollitz pg.112). The threat of a massive slave rebellion struck fear in the eyes of the white man including Jefferson. He acknowledged the massive population of blacks in certain, more susceptible parts of the world and realized the threat the blacks posed in a letter to James Monroe already inhabited more or less by the same race. The most promising portion of them is the island of St. Domingo, where the blacks are established into a sovereignty de facto, & have organized themselves under regular laws & government" (Hollitz, pg.125). Obviously Jefferson saw the rebellion of St. Domingo and the eventual colonization of the area for blacks as a model that other slaves would aspire for. Both Tanaka's article and Jefferson's letter to Monroe offered historical insight into the reality of the black slavery threat of the early 1800's. Although most of Tanaka's recollections of the time were quite strong and paralleled the primary sources available in Hollitz's chapter he never portrayed the Natives as a physical threat to the Americans. Tanaka states that the majority of white man viewed the Indians to be equal in strength and intelligence (Hollitz, pg.115). This does coincide with Jefferson's beliefs stated in his passage


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