Thomas Jefferson called slavery a “moral depravity” and a “hideous blot,” but continued to hold human beings as property his entire adult life.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men are created equal,” and yet enslaved more than 600 people over the course of his life.
Although he made some legislative attempts against slavery and at times bemoaned its existence, Jefferson also profited directly from the institution of slavery.
Jefferson profited not just by the crops and products produced by his enslaved laborers but also from the value of the slaves themselves.
How could the author of the Declaration of the Independence own slaves? How could twenty percent of the population of the new United States, founded on the principles of liberty and equality, live in bondage? What was life like for enslaved people in the early republic?