Enlightenment philosophy strongly influenced Jefferson’s ideas about two seemingly opposing issues: American freedom and American slavery. Enlightenment thinkers argued that liberty was a natural human right and that reason and scientific knowledge—not the state or the church—were responsible for human progress. But Enlightenment reason also provided a rationale for slavery, based on a hierarchy of races.
Liberty in the Form of a Goddess of Youth by Edward Savage, 1796.
Liberty in the Form of a Goddess of Youth by Edward Savage, 1796. Thomas Jefferson Foundation