Jefferson and many other patriots believed slavery should be abolished in the new American nation. Emancipation would fulfill the ideal that "all men are created equal."
Yet over the course of his life Jefferson himself owned 600 people. He was unable to extricate himself from what he called the “deplorable entanglement” of slavery.
Jefferson spent much of his life wrestling with and proposing various solutions to this national problem. But slavery was not abolished, and he remained a slaveholder throughout his life.