“Born This Way”
“We know that among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of the blacks on the continent of America” (Jefferson, 1096).
Jefferson used the word deplorable to describe Roman slaves. The Oxford English dictionary defines deplorable as lamented or hopeless. He notes physical and mental improvements of the blacks in their mixture with the whites as a basis to argue their inferiority does not come from with themselves. Romans kept male and female slaves separate from one another to prevent children, but they breed like rabbits in the Americas. An America slave cannot count this in their treatment. This is also reinforced in the more permanent settlement patterns that were discussed in class. A founding father writing of slavery being better in America than ancient Rome is interesting, since slavery has such a negative connotation.
The emancipation of the slaves is already a difficult task due to color, as well as faculty, which Oxford English Dictionary defines as a person’s ability or aptitude. Jefferson argues that their integration into society is more difficult. Yes, they are of the same species, or family, at least. But they may possess different qualifications. Their integration into society is still difficult when they are seen as natural and kept distinct as nature has formed them. Jefferson does not wish for slaves to perform outside of their nature. If slaves worked on plantations for a large part, they may need to be in that nature in order to create wealth for their masters. Freedom, but not too much freedom?
From Jefferson’s stance, this was not deplorable, but good that slaves could have their duties and hopefully be emancipated to become a part of society. They could almost learn their place in nature. While Jefferson seemingly sounds like the hero of the slaves in what he has written, he is still maintaining the obstacle he calls out. But, race was also tied to the region in their minds, which can relate to one’s qualifications.