Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name



First Advisor

Professor Clarence A. Bacote


It is most interesting, indeed, to try and understand the thinking of eighteenth-century philosophers in regards to the slavery institution and the Negro. Jefferson has held the interest of many students when it comes to the study of the Negro.

With this in mind, the writer concentrated upon the writings of Jefferson in terms of the slave-trade and the Negro. Jefferson personally hated the slave-trade, however, he felt the Negro inferior.

The chief purpose of this study was to show Jefferson's dichotomy of nature in trying to justify his beliefs in natural rights for all, but excluding the Negro. For his writings, the writer relied heavily upon Ford, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson and Boyd, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. It was primarily in these books that the writer was able to research the historical writings of Jefferson concerning the Negro slave-trade.

The completion of the study revealed to the writer that Jefferson can still be regarded as a liberal and a crusader for Negro freedom as far as eighteenth-century liberalism extends itself. Jefferson's writings clearly display his confusion in terms of equality for the Negro within white society.

Hopefully, the study of Jefferson's attitude toward the Negro and slavery will reveal to others the importance of his thoughts with respect to Negro freedom. It should also show that had Jefferson's proposals been accepted perhaps a Civil War could have been averted. Later writers and students of history will be able to look at this study to analyze Thomas Jefferson's treatment of the Negro, and should be able to clearly see the confusion within Jefferson's time concerning the slavery and Negro problem.

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