How does Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia illustrate the contradictions of the Enlightenment and the idea of America

0 Comment

The critics aptly allude to the army of slaves Jefferson had kept, and never meant to set them free for leading the life of their choice. Instead, he is aptly blamed of developing sexual relationships with one of his maid slaves Sally Hemings (Halliday 87), with whom, he had five children. Not only this that Jefferson kept the slaves in his possession till death, but also released just few male slaves, two of them were the real brothers of his mistress Sally. As a result, he exploited the slogan of the abolition of slavery just for capturing the attention of the American masses that appeared to be making demands for kicking out the black community from the American soil, and subsequently applying banishment on their re-entry as well as slave trade altogether (162). Thus, Jefferson also banned the freed blacks from Virginia, and would not permit their entry in the state at any cost. The author also elucidates various aspects of his life, where it becomes evident that Jefferson had been fond of dominating over others by capturing the attraction of the people since his childhood. It was the same ambitious nature and writing skills, which turned out to be highly supportive in respect of earning sound reputation and honor of drafting the Declaration of Independence for the then recently liberated country and present day super power i.e. America. Although he raised a sonorous voice against the injustices being committed by the white masters against the black slaves, yet he did not provide an open support to the slave cause. However, he practiced kindness and observed leniency towards the slaves under his possession (Brodie 1999). His profound care towards the slaves was the reflection of his faith in Christianity, which strongly preaches meekness, humility and benevolence towards others, and forbids the humans from observing pride, envy and wickedness towards others (Halliday 55). However, he could not be stated to be an orthodox Christian in the real sense of the world. On the contrary, it was actually the reflection of his brought up and socializing that turned him a supporter for the cause of freedom and humanity (Brodie 49). Jefferson, in his political views and opinions, was a follower of liberal and secular thought, though it does not make him non-Christian altogether. Rather, by faith, he was Christian, though maintained very liberal ideas about other people. Hence, he did not aim to implement his personal will upon the others without their free consent and approval. It is therefore, he appears to be advocating the separation of church from administrative affairs of government, where the religion would be a private matter of the people (Brodie 206). Since Jefferson was the torch-bearer of the freedom of thought and action, and did not allow any interference in the personal affairs of the individuals, he applied and enforced the same policy by defining and determining the boundary lines of the Virginia State while his stay over there as the administrator and governor (Halliday 151). While discussing Jefferson’s religious ideology, Stanford (2007) asserts that the former US President as well as main drafter of the Declaration of Independence observed enlightenment in his life, which reflects in