Requests for Information Related to Thomas Jefferson

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>I would also like to know if you could help me in the area of what did
>jefferson do in his presidency to help the cause of emanicipation?  Would
>you be able to help or lead me in some direction?

To my knowledge, Jefferson took no official actions during his
presidency that might promote the emancipation of negro slaves.
Apparently, emancipation was never on the top of Jefferson's agenda,
because he considered the problems created by slavery to go far
beyond the simple matter of turning them free.  He did, of course, make
numerous efforts to attack the problem when he was a LEGISLATOR.
But when he was President, he was an EXECUTIVE.  Legislators make
the laws; executives implement the laws.  Therefore, it would have been
highly improper for him *as President* to take any actions that were
more properly the concern of the legislature.  Of course, he *could* have
recommended legislation.  But to my knowledge, he took no steps to do
so.  Another factor that must be considered is this: especially in the early
days of the republic, matters such as slavery were considered
INTERNAL matters and therefore reserved to the States.  It was
considered unconstitutional at that time for the national (or General)
government to tell the States what to do regarding an internal matter.
Thus, as you can see, there were many reasons why Jefferson as
President would not have involved himself in the question of slavery.
Even Lincoln did not involve himself in the question of slavery until the
Emancipation Proclamation, which was addressed to a special situation,
i.e., the status of slaves in States in rebellion.  The Civil War was fought
over the question of the breakup of the Union, not over slavery per se.
Lincoln had no objection to the Southern states retaining slavery as long
as they did not secede from the Union.

Hope that helps.  It's a complicated question.

Eyler Coates

>I have another question for you, would you happen to have quotes from >jefferson demonstrating his hatred of slavery in front of you, instead >of searching through his writings and notes? i have to demostrate the >resolvement of slavery in his writings. Would you be of some >assistance? There is a whole section of my website, "Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government," that contains quotes from Jefferson on the issues of race and slavery. You can access these at the following URL: Anything else? ;-) Eyler Coates
>I also have a question for you concerning the founding fathers views >toward slavery. My husband frequents political discussion with >Afghan-born Americans. They are very "down" on our constitution because >of the perverted interpretations that have developed over time. They >believe that what "is" is what was "meant to be". They are extremely >critical of our founding fathers in regard to the issue of slavery. Are >there any facts or quotes from your Jefferson site which would be of >benefit to enlighten these gentlemen? In order to truly understand this, a person must look at the situation from the perspective of Jefferson's time, not from what is called "presentism." Jefferson INHERITED slaves and the social situation that supported slavery. He was opposed to the institution of slavery all his life. At the same time, he believed that to turn them out on the street would be like abandoning children. Please refer to: and For a good discussion of the character of Thomas Jefferson in this regard, see:


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