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Enlightenment Influence: Racism in Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781

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In his only published book, Jefferson recorded his views on race. Like many other 18th-century thinkers, Jefferson suspected blacks were inferior to whites. He wrote, “I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct...

Notes on the State of Virginia by Thomas Jefferson, Stockdale edition, 1787.

Thomas Jefferson Foundation

In his only published book, Jefferson recorded information about the natural history, inhabitants, and political organization of Virginia, including his most extensive discussion of his views on race. Like many other 18th-century thinkers, Jefferson believed blacks were inferior to whites. He questioned whether their low status was due to inherent inferiority or to decades of degrading enslavement.

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