Dear Mr. Jefferson, We are interested in your views on slavery. Did you free your slaves? If so, under what circumstances? Mr. Mollica's 10th Grade US History Class Milton, NH My dear students, Thank you for writing to me. My opinion has ever been that, until more can be done for the slaves, we should endeavor, with those whom fortune has thrown on our hands, to feed and clothe them well, protect them from ill usage, and require such reasonable labor only as is performed voluntarily by freeman. The laws do not permit us to turn them loose. I see manumission as similar to abandoning children, who have no way of caring for themselves. I leave it for future generations to correct the ills of their fathers. As for your second question, I have indeed freed two slaves. I also plan to free five more in my will. All of these men are skilled tradesmen and capable of earning a living on their own. I should also mention that two slaves ran away and were not pursued by me. I am with great esteem, Your most obedt. humble servt, Th. Jefferson P.S. From Mr. Jefferson's scribe: All nine slaves who were freed or were allowed to run away were members of the Hemings family. F Four of them (the two "run aways" and the two freed in his will) were the children of Sally Hemings. Most historians now accept the existence of a relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings that led to the birth of one, and most likely all four, of Sally Heming's surviving children. Thomas Jefferson did not acknowledge this during his lifetime and your above letter reflects this fact.
Dear Mr. Jefferson, I am studying about your life and I have a few questions. My name isJenna and I am reading a book about your life and would like to get into more detail. My first question is about your family. I know that you came from a large family and I was just wondering if being in a big family affected your decisions as president (having experience in a group of people). My next question relates to your slaves practicing their religion. I have heard that you allowed them to have their own religion and you were not worried about them revolting, why is that? This question is about your estate (Monticello). Why did your father choose you to inherit the land and not your siblings? During your life would you say that you spent more time at home or more time out and abroad, as president. Thank you for your time. Jenna Dear Mistress Jenna, Thank you for your recent letter. Please excuse me for not responding to it sooner, but I was away from Monticello and have only recently returned. I did indeed come from a family of some size, however it was not unusually large by the standards of my day. My daughter Martha has had twelve children - eleven of whom have survived past early childhood. I do not think that the size of my family has had an impact on my decision making abilities. I would probably attribute it more to my education. I do indeed allow my slaves to practice their own religion. I do not follow your argument; why would this necessarily lead to slave revolts? As for my inheritance of Monticello, as the eldest son of my father, I fell under the laws of primogeniture. The English law of primogeniture assured that the eldest son received all of his father's lands. My father was generous to my younger, and only, brother Randolph to whom he gave some lands along the James River near Scottsville. My sisters received no land and upon their marriages were given other kinds of property such as slaves, money and household goods. Once a woman is married all of her possessions become the property of her husband. As for the law of primogeniture, it no longer exists since I was instrumental in having it revoked in Virginia. Your last question is a difficult one to answer since I have never thought of it before. I have spent many many years away from Monticello in service to my country and to my state. Since my retirement in 1809 however, I have spent most of my time either at Monticello or my Bedford County home, Poplar Forest. I am with great esteem, Your most obedt. humble servt, Th.Jefferson
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