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Thomas Jefferson and the Development of Racist
Theory
Student X
PEER #1
Jefferson starts off his notes by stating the obvious that the difference between white
and black people are their skin color. He also talks about how they have different hair
than white people and how their figure is different as well. In his notes Jeferson says
that, “They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives
them a very strong and disagreeable odor.”. He then went on to talk about how black
people were more tolerant of heat and less of the cold. Jefferson said that “they seem to
require less sleep.” and how they would stay up until midnight even though they knew
they would wake up early in the morning. In his notes he said that black people are as
brave and more adventurous than white people. Jefferson then went on to talk about
how if he were to compare them by their memory, reason, and imagination, then they
would appear equal to white men. Although after saying this he quickly responds by
saying they are reasonably more inferior. He says this because he does not think they
would be able to trace and comprehend Euclid. Euclid was a Greek mathematician and
was considered the father of geometry. Jefferson then goes on to talk about how
millions of them were brought and even born in America. How most of these people
were confined to their own home and society although many of these people were
taught handicraft arts and have associated themselves with white people.
He started off his response by saying he is “fully sensible of the greatness of that
freedom,”. Soon after saying this, Banneker said that we are all from one universal father
and that he made all of us with the same flesh, with the same sensations, and same
faculties. After this he asks Jefferson if this persuaded him that he would acknowledge
them human rights. Banneker went on to reveal himself as an African American of which
he is the “deepest dye”. He also stated that he is not under a state of “tyrannical
thralldom, and inhuman captivity, to which too many of my brethren are doomed,”. He
then went on to say that he has the same freedom and liberties that Jefferson had.
Banneker brought up the declaration of independence and said how Jefferson was guilty
for criminal acts by having slaves since “all men are created equal”. At the end of his
response Banneker called himself Jefferson’s “most obedient humble servant”. Thomas
Jefferson also ended his reply to Banneker the same way.
1. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Richmond: 1853), 149-152, 155.
2. Benjamin Banneker, Banneker’s letter to Jefferson.
Reply
RESPOND #1 ………
The “Counter Revolution of 1776?
PEER #2
STUDENT X
As a result of the American Revolution, the ones who gained the most were the wealthy
white men who owned land properties, as others such as women, slaves, servants,
Native Americans and even white men who did not own land got little to no benefit
from the cause. I would not agree saying the wealthy were the only ones to benefit, but I
would agree that the amount gained for many groups of people paled in comparison to
the white wealthy men. Although within these groups, there were those who did benefit
from the war such as the slaves and servants who were rewarded with freedom from
enslavement for their participation in the war, it was not so common to see as many
who were battle remained in service after the Treaty of Paris was signed. In fact it was
more probable to earn your freedom by siding with the British than the colonists as they
offered emancipation to those that would join their fight against the colonists due to
Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation. As well as being offered their freedom, “it makes little
sense for slaves to fight alongside slavemasters so that slave masters could then deepen
the persecution of the enslaved and, indeed” said Horne in Goodman’s
interview. Women did not benefit much as after the war they still could not own land
and had no real representation within the government. Abigail Adams, wife of John
Adams and seen as a representative of women, wrote to her husband asking for him to
make sure women were not left behind and that they would see better treatment than
their ancestors had by limiting the power of the male sex rather than the absolute
power they had.(Adams). John Adams’ response was “they know better than to repeal
our Masculine systems.” Some Native Americans believed that by helping the colonists
repeal the British forces, they would be allowed to keep their land rather than shedding
more bloodshed for it. Although occasionally this fell true, it did not always as many
were still forced out of their land after and during the war. Not wanting to give up their
land easily, there was retaliation which led to more conflicts during and after the war.
Whether forceful or voluntary, the aid from the many groups helped much in the war
effort but that does not mean they were properly treated or benefiting from their
efforts.
RESPOND #2 ………..

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