Essay On Thomas Jefferson And Sally Hemings

Essay On Thomas Jefferson And Sally Hemings-23
Significantly, they never spoke about the possibility of love and regular heterosexual relationships between males and females of mixed races.That type of love was taboo then, and it has remained discomfiting to many Americans even into the 21st century. While Martha Jefferson had given her perpetual consent to sexual relations with her husband by the act of marrying him—there was no such thing as marital rape—Jefferson owned his wife’s half sister, Sally, in a completely different way.Rape and the threat of it blighted the lives of countless enslaved women.

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That much-longed for human connection would have worked its magic.

Love, which remains extremely difficult to capture and define today or in the past, poses a major hurdle in sorting out the nature of their relationship.

Speaking of love in the context of a master-slave relationship is even more difficult, given the moral and political implications.

After all, the idea of “love” was used during the antebellum period and afterward as a defense of slavery.

He publicly aired his suspicions that the mental capacity of blacks was inferior to whites’, not exactly as a popular believe in a society that claims (note the operative word “claims”) to find such notions completely abhorrent.

For some, the knowledge that Jefferson had loved the enslaved African American woman with whom he had seven children would rescue him from the depravity of having been a slave owner who made disparaging comments about blacks—perhaps not totally exonerating him, but in some small but important way moderating the disturbing facts.No social system can ever stamp out all the constitutive aspects of the human character.Heterosexual men and women thrown together in intimate circumstances will become attracted to one another.At any time, Jefferson had the right to sell her and their children if he wanted to.White males, not just slave owners—exercised inordinate power over black women during slavery.Apologists for the peculiar institution claimed that a genuine “love” existed between the races during slavery, putting the lie to northern abolitionists’ claim that the institution was evil and exploitative.Southern slaveholders often pointed to their affection for their individual “mammies” and the supposedly deep ties they formed with their enslaved playmates (of the same sex, of course) on the plantation.Their legal relationship to one another—and the world they shared—is strange to us today.Certainly people suffer oppression today: many work for little or no pay, while countless women and children are forced into prostitution.Under French law, Hemings would have had a clear route to freedom had she chosen it.Instead, she agreed to return to America with him, placing herself entirely under his power.


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