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White Over BlackAmerican Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812$
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Winthrop D. Jordan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834022

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838686_jordan

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Thomas Jefferson Self and Society

Thomas Jefferson Self and Society

Chapter:
(p.429) XII Thomas Jefferson Self and Society
Source:
White Over Black
Author(s):

Winthrop D. Jordan

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807838686_jordan.18

This chapter argues that contemplating any man-in-culture is savoring complexity. As such, it is easiest to start with Thomas Jefferson's central dilemma: he hated slavery but thought Negroes inferior to white men. His remarks on the Negro's mental inferiority helped kindle a revealing public controversy on the subject which deserves examination. It will also be necessary to return again to Jefferson's inward world where Negro inferiority was rooted. There it is possible to discern the interrelationship between his feelings about the races and his feeling about the sexes and thence to move once again to the problem of interracial sex in American culture. Finally, by tacking back to Jefferson and to the way he patterned his perceptions of his surroundings, it becomes easy to see how he assimilated the Indian to his anthropology and to America. His solution with the Negro was very different.

Keywords:   man-in-culture, Thomas Jefferson, slavery, Negroes, white men, mental inferiority

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