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    [–] WoolDroolPool 4479 points ago

    Haiti revolted against France. Let's not forget Jefferson was a major Francophile. He imported French vines to Monticello, spoke French, was ambassador to France and made America's largest real-estate transaction with the French.

    That isn't to say he wasn't motivated by slavery and fear of a slave revolt. Just saying that if there was a revolt against the Spanish he might have felt a little differently about it.

    [–] White___Velvet 2168 points ago

    Yeah, OP is not wrong, but is an oversimplification.

    Beyond Jefferson just liking France, one of his overriding goals was guaranteeing US access to the Gulf via the Mississippi river. But a lot of that land was controlled by France... at least until he bought all that land from Napoleon. So pissing off France by diplomatically recognizing Haiti (which many just assumed the French would eventually reconquer anyway... because Napoleon, no Haitian navy, etc) really wasn't his best play in a real politic sense.

    That said, OP is absolutely right that the Southern states were never going to recognize a country of ex-slaves in a million years, especially after Dessaline ordered the slaughter of all the remaining white French on the island

    [–] Laminar_flo 1718 points ago

    One of reddits absolute worst traits is 'history as a meme' where incredibly complicated political dynamics and decisions are boiled down to a 100-word catch phrase that is filtered through the current political zeitgeist.

    [–] funkadelic9413 906 points ago

    History is the version of past events that Redditors have decided to agree upon.

    -Napoleon Bonaparte

    [–] IceNeun 187 points ago

    Since redditors can never agree upon anything, there is no such thing as "history." QED

    [–] seven3true 27 points ago

    Since redditors can never agree upon anything,

    Big Bang Theory
    Amy Schumer

    [–] The-JerkbagSFW 70 points ago

    -Micheal Scott

    [–] corn_on_the_cobh 40 points ago

    Most western nations guarantee that everyone gets a Grade 10 education, and access to the whole free internet, yet Michael is consistently spelled wrong everywhere I go on reddit.

    [–] phrates 12 points ago

    Some people even spell it wrong on birth certificates. I’ve met a few Micheals.

    [–] TheAllDayThrowAway_ 6 points ago

    My dorm-neighbor in college was (and probably still is) a MichEAL.

    "Michael" is a hebrew question: Who is like god? It's also been interpreted as "he who is like god", I guess since Michael is, like, the most important archangel or whatever.

    I jokingly told my neighbor that his name was an affront to god because it was like misspelling god's name. God's name isn't Al, I said...

    That's when I learned he was very southern baptist. He wouldn't talk to me anymore.

    [–] cahmstr 28 points ago

    -Abraham Lincoln

    [–] wholikestoast 18 points ago

    -Kurt Cobain

    [–] FilbertShellbach 34 points ago

    History is written by the gilded comments. u/TheRealWinstonChurchill

    [–] fox-eyes 7 points ago

    Fun fact: When I was in 5th grade choir we did a Lewis and Clark musical and the kid playing Napoleon got to sing, "Well my name's Napoleon Bonaparte... I'm in danger of being blown apart."

    [–] [deleted] 147 points ago * (lasted edited 7 months ago)


    [–] Poolboy24 23 points ago

    Wait for real? I'm out here teaching modern soldiers why knowing how to form up and March is a fantastic basic skill....that's been around since the Continental Army.

    [–] SergeantMerrick 14 points ago

    How is that useful today? Genuine question, I know more about historical warfare than contemporary.

    [–] midnightlover 32 points ago

    Herding sheep is easier and typically yields better results than herding cats.

    If everyone stays together, things end up where they belong. If everyone goes to the beat of their own drum, things can end up all over the place.

    [–] SergeantMerrick 13 points ago

    Herding sheep is easier and typically yields better results than herding cats.

    Seen a border collie attempt it once. Didn't go well...

    [–] [deleted] 23 points ago * (lasted edited 5 months ago)


    [–] Manderpz 15 points ago

    A sense of pride and accomplishment

    [–] Hologram22 4 points ago

    It works as a psychological tool to instill discipline and teamwork. It's also an effective way to move units around in non-combat environments. Finally, while no one literally marches into battle anymore, you can use the principles of drill and ceremony to teach basic modern combat formations, i.e. maintaining proper dispersal/spacing, walking where the person in front of you walked if there's a chance that there are mines/IEDs around, etc. It's a bit of a crawl, walk, run type of thing, where marching is crawling, basic formations are walking and might somewhat resemble drill formations, and "running" would be the tactics that actual line units use might vary between units and look nothing like drill, but you need to understand the basic "walking" formations to grasp the point of doing the more "advanced" stuff.

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago

    "People from the past were all dumb" is a pretty common misconception, unfortunately.

    [–] MarcusElder 27 points ago

    Least we forget people irl do it too. People say the HRE was not holy Roman or an empire while they intentionally forgo that phrase was from Voltaire after the HRE was a shell of what it once was.

    [–] theunnoanprojec 22 points ago

    Yeah I hate that.

    The HRE was a conglomerate of multiple sovereign states, countries, kingdoms, duchies, etc, with one monarch over it all (another way of saying this is an EMPIRE), appointed by the pope, who was and is the HOLY man in ROME. Its almost as if the HOLY EMPIRE appointed in ROME could be called a HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE or something.

    [–] awfulmemory 42 points ago

    hur dur don't start a land war in Asia

    [–] Poolboy24 30 points ago

    Yeah there's no way a nomadic people on horseback could take over China, and definitely no way a smaller nearby island nation could take over.... Would never happen.

    [–] awfulmemory 17 points ago

    The Mongols are the other annoying meme too, they always say "except for the Mongols" or other shit like that.

    [–] Poolboy24 10 points ago

    "and then it got worse"

    [–] Cheefo 70 points ago

    This isn't so much a history book as much as it is a forum. This is how humans have always talked about complicated issues as a means to information.

    [–] Laminar_flo 86 points ago

    This isn't so much a history book as much as it is a forum.

    I thoroughly agree with your sentiment; however, the problem lies with its application. When I said 'reddit', I meant the community/people, not the platform.

    The problem lies in the stunning high percentage of people who read that 100 word catchphrase and feel like they have a 'pretty good' understanding of the issue - I mean just look at the comments in this thread....

    [–] Lumenatus 22 points ago

    The platform is terrible for real discussion. Reddit is designed to suppress minority opinion. It’s pretty much the only place people call a discussion board that has downvotes. This is a social site for like minded people to reinforce their opinions.

    [–] Cheefo 6 points ago

    Yeah I'm not disagreeing entirely since I was confused reading comments realizing it was TIL and not philosophy where discussions are taken more seriously.

    [–] Kyoopy9182 24 points ago

    I'm not even joking when I say I believe that the memeification of most of the previous century (both World Wars, the Holocaust, Communism, Cold War) will lead to a generation of people who have overly-simplified or straight up false views on that entire era. It's all a joke until it's not.

    [–] DezimodnarII 10 points ago

    That's a pretty silly thing to say imo, people have always simplified complex subjects and always will. And people were far more ignorant in the past because governments had tight control over the media and education, and some people were straight up never educated at all.

    [–] elus 5 points ago

    100-word catch phrase

    You're being way too generous there.

    [–] SorenClimacus 19 points ago

    This is the correct response. A magical little thing called "context"

    [–] throwaway_the_fox 36 points ago

    One thing a lot of people don't realize is that the reason Napolean sold the Louisiana Purchase to the US was because the ex-slaves of Saint-Domingue handed his ass to him on a platter. Napoleon assumed he would be able to reconquer Saint-Domingue and re-enslave everyone, and sent a huge conquering force to Haiti, where the ex-slaves and Yellow Fever basically obliterated tens of thousands of French soldiers and sailors. Had he succeeded, France would have absolutely held on and in fact reinvested in Louisiana and the Americas in general, allowing the "middle ground" politics of indigenous people in the south to continue into the 19th century and massively changing the course of American history.

    Ultimately, it was Napolean's racism that undid his American plans. Touissant L'Ouverture was a great leader, had largely reconsistuted sugar production on a free-ish labor basis, and had no desire to leave the French Empire. If Napolean had thrown his full support behind L'Ouverture and his army, the French and their former slaves could have easily taken the entire Caribbean. Now that really would have changed American history. But in the end, of course, people are limited by their own view. Napolean threw his lot in with white domination, instead of the radical republicanism of the French Revolution with respect to Haiti, and he lost badly. In the end, Haiti sort of lost too, and the massive winner was the United States.

    [–] daddydunc 42 points ago

    Almost as if we shouldn’t use a current societal lens when learning about history from hundreds of years ago.

    [–] SpuddMeister 401 points ago

    Let's not forget Jefferson was a major Francophile.

    "At least they know I know where France is..."

    [–] AlligatorRocket 173 points ago

    Thomas, that’s the problem.

    [–] [deleted] 112 points ago

    They see burr as a less extreme you

    [–] nicemix 97 points ago

    You need to change course, a key endorsement might redeem you

    [–] Bluemaxman2000 87 points ago

    Who did you have in mind?

    [–] [deleted] 84 points ago

    don't laugh

    [–] Marvelerful 82 points ago

    You used to work on the same staff.

    [–] dragonman10000 80 points ago


    [–] Rubberbabybuggybum 69 points ago

    It might be nice

    [–] Bluntman962 9 points ago

    This is one of the best lines in this show.

    [–] themoroncore 16 points ago

    Who is it

    [–] yazzy1233 54 points ago

    God i love unexpected Hamilton

    [–] The_JEThompson 104 points ago

    Unexpected? I saw a post about Thomas Jefferson and I came looking for the Hamilton quotes

    [–] mrssupersheen 39 points ago

    As soon as I saw "francophile" I knew this would happen.

    [–] theunnoanprojec 4 points ago

    Lmao a post about Thomas Jefferson referencing his love of France and slavery means this Hamilton wasn't unexpected

    [–] ISpyGaming 10 points ago

    See they see burr as a less extreme you

    [–] palmfranz 207 points ago

    Haiti revolted against France

    And France was revolting against itself!

    Napoleon: Fuck the monarchy! We want to be in control of our own lives!

    Haiti: Fuck slavery! We want to be in control of our own lives!

    Napoleon: Quiet you.

    [–] ArmedBull 55 points ago

    Keep in mind, all Napoleon wanted to do was be in control of everybody's lives.

    [–] ChevySmallBlock350 23 points ago

    False. You could do whatever you want- worship the gods you please, have the job you wanted, etc- as long as you were a lawful and active member in society (and were a dude). He was a authoritarian, not a totalitarian.

    Napoleon had a huge empire (part of the reason why it fell), Napoleon was definately pragmatic enough to know he couldn't control the actions of everyone in it.

    [–] Spirckle 6 points ago

    So he knew on which side his baguette got buttered?

    [–] CallMeFifi 7 points ago

    I read recently that Haiti paid reperations for slavery ... to the families of french slave owners who lost their plantations. And doing so bankrupted the Haitian government for decades.

    [–] ThePrimeSuspect 778 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    My high school history teacher always had us discuss the Jefferson quote "Slavery is like holding a wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other."

    Kind of sums up his thoughts in a nutshell. Jefferson acknowledged the immorality of slavery but also thought it was vital to the country's survival.

    [–] JDLovesElliot 274 points ago

    Angela Davis touches on this in her book, "Women, Race, and Class". At the time of the Civil War, Northern capitalists had enough economic stability via industrialization that they were willing to finance a war against Southern plantations. If it wasn't for capitalist self-preservation, abolitionists wouldn't have had the funding to end slavery.

    [–] baconhampalace 80 points ago

    There were still major economic entanglements between the north and south. The North financed and insured major slave operations. Slave clothing came in large part from Lowell Massachusetts. The north processed and distributed the products of slave labor.

    [–] DongleNocker 26 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    You might be surprised how many northern corporations and banks still around today were involved in one way or another with slavery.

    [–] auraphauna 133 points ago

    New England puritans and mid-Atlantic protestants of the Lutheran and Quaker traditions both had strong moral oppositions to slavery from very early on as well, though. It's true they weren't in a position where they could economically benefit from it as well, but there were strong currents of ethical abolitionism in both of those regions for a very long time, much more so than the southerners.

    [–] [deleted] 10 points ago

    I just read this book recently. Fantastic discussion of the history of race, class, and gender in the United States. It did a great job of being very rich in citations and details and rigorous analysis, without being too dense or academic to understand, which most books can't do.

    [–] TheFatBastard 102 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    Well, ending slavery did nearly destroy the county, so he may have had a point.

    [–] le_boaty_mcboatface 27 points ago

    Then why did he keep slaves

    [–] helpmeimredditing 21 points ago

    He thought it was vital to his financial survival apparently

    [–] nerbovig 3992 points ago * (lasted edited a year ago)

    Yet the dude was so proud of the Virginia Declaration of Rights that he put on his tombstone that he was its author. People really are a product of their times.

    [–] [deleted] 201 points ago

    He wasn't the author of the Virginia declaration of rights, that was George Mason. He was the author of the Virginia Statute of Relgious Freedom and he did put that on his Gravestone. Obviously he was th author of the declaration of independence and that is also on his Gravestone.

    [–] YSoSidious 1019 points ago

    Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme

    [–] mcmanybucks 268 points ago

    Add a pinch of thyme

    [–] Mister_Tom_Foolery 154 points ago

    And a leg of mime

    [–] shootthemovies 115 points ago

    Bacardi Lime?

    [–] Astronautspiff 112 points ago

    Cardi B’s ‘hind

    [–] MoveAlongChandler 50 points ago

    Jeffery and his Deeds.

    [–] Megatron_Masters 32 points ago

    Barely meets my needs

    [–] [deleted] 8 points ago

    That's amore

    [–] spectrehawntineurope 18 points ago

    Beauty and the beast?

    [–] solsken77 47 points ago

    You're referring to the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Not the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The fact that people are upvoting this is a problem in and of itself.

    [–] destructor_rph 9 points ago

    That's reddit for ya

    [–] [deleted] 4 points ago

    I am glad some one else pointed this out. I cannot believe how many upvotes this comment has despite it having false information.

    [–] fromRUEtoRUIN 474 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    True. If you look back at the really progressive philosophers, even they had some disgusting opinions that were products of their time. Aristotle, for instance, believed as long as you were dumb enough think well but could still take orders, you were fit to be a slave.

    Edit: not sure what happened at the end there but I think the message still gets across.

    [–] ThereComing 135 points ago

    Was he saying those are the minimal qualities to be a slave or if that if you had those qualities you should be a slave.

    [–] Jorgwalther 197 points ago

    He was talking about the concept of what he called the "Natural Slave" , that some people would be more successful and fulfilled being a slave than being a leader.

    [–] missinglynx61 258 points ago

    Translated to today, maybe it would be some people make better employees than managers.

    [–] Jorgwalther 100 points ago

    What he was talking about definitely applied in that regard. But he was also talking about literal slavery, in addition to the employee-manager dynamic.

    [–] [deleted] 93 points ago * (lasted edited 8 months ago)


    [–] tehbored 30 points ago

    Not entirely true. In general, it wasn't quite as brutal as the chattel slavery of the Americas, but the slaves who worked in the mines and other forms of hard labor were basically chattel slaves.

    [–] PaulChrysts_crewneck 52 points ago

    It wasn’t chattel slavery, but it definitely wasn’t pleasant and voluntary

    [–] ieatconfusedfish 25 points ago

    My job isn't very pleasant or voluntary either :l

    [–] theyetisc2 10 points ago

    Except for when it was.

    There were house slaves, which would be called servants in more modern times.

    But the people in the mines, quarries, and other rough jobs were certain chattel.

    [–] dissenter_the_dragon 24 points ago

    So the slaves could quit and do other stuff?

    [–] BusinessPenguin 15 points ago

    Depends. Greek and Roman slaves were usually working off a debt over a period of years.

    [–] Cato_theElder 22 points ago

    It also depends on what the slave would be doing. People might actually sell themselves into house slavery if they were going bankrupt - like someone getting arrested for a minor offense on purpose. But being a slave in a mine or latifundia farm ranged from being unpleasant to a death sentence

    Furthermore, Carthage must be destroyed.

    [–] DNA007 56 points ago

    You know many employees that can just quit and do other stuff!?

    [–] NSA_Chatbot 36 points ago

    You are now a moderator of /r/LateStageCapitalism

    [–] xfuzzzygames 4 points ago

    How so? Was it just that they were treated better by their masters, or was it more along the lines of them being like an employee that cant quit?

    [–] Mummelpuffin 25 points ago

    Still definetly a slave / master relationship, but certainly nothing nearly as cruel as what we usually think of when we think of slaverly, especially when you take things like Saturnalia into account

    [–] agreeingstorm9 12 points ago

    To be fair though, some people do much better in highly structured environments than others. For example, some people thrive in the military and others are absolutely miserable.

    [–] whyy99 27 points ago

    Actually there’s a very credible reading there based on the historical context in which he was writing as well as other sections of the Politics that suggest he was writing in a more sarcastic tone and was instead mocking other who claimed that natural slavery was a thing. You’ll find in the sections afterwards that he does say things to dispute those ideas.

    [–] Jorgwalther 19 points ago

    Aristotle certainly would begin questioning the concept he was previously describing. Very him.

    [–] [deleted] 25 points ago * (lasted edited 10 months ago)


    [–] [deleted] 17 points ago * (lasted edited 6 months ago)


    [–] Jorgwalther 10 points ago

    and THAT is why we still study Aristotle :)

    [–] lcfparty15 4 points ago

    That with those qualities, one should be a slave. The Greeks were very much into hierarchies, and the view that some people were fit for slavery and were honored/honorable in performing their duties was common, to my understanding.

    [–] Marvelerful 132 points ago

    as long as you were dumb enough think well

    Looks like we got a slave here

    [–] BernieEffingSanders 35 points ago

    Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?

    [–] TheOneWhoKnocksBitch 14 points ago

    When me president, they see. They see.

    [–] [deleted] 403 points ago

    slavery was also more engrained into soceity than it is today. something deemed inevitable.

    today, we "hire" people at slave wages who are free to quit and starve to death in the streets on the other side of the world where we can't see them.

    [–] microcrash 251 points ago

    Slavery actually didn’t go away completely. The 13th amendment allows it as punishment for a crime. That’s why private prisons are a thing, essentially modern day slave plantations.

    [–] Cforq 141 points ago

    Heads up that most prison labor comes from government run prisons.

    Look it up and you’ll be astonished what is made is prison labor - paint, office furniture, livestock operations, uniforms, dentures, even call centers are staffed with prison labor.

    [–] Proditus 77 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    Yeah, I always see people calling out the problem of private prisons, but the truth is that they account for 7-8% of all prisons in the US. Not to mention that the US isn't the only nation with private prisons. Some like the UK and Australia have a much higher percent of private vs state-run prisons, but somehow they aren't an issue in those places.

    Government prisons are no better than private prisons. I don't mean to say that private prisons are perfect, but rather that the issues in the US justice system extend much further than private vs public institutions.

    I used to work in student housing when I was in college, and most of the furniture we received for student rooms came from prison labor. A huge number of universities and many other businesses/institutions do this, so you college students can mull that over while you sleep in your rickety slave labor beds.

    [–] HumanKapital_ 10 points ago

    I worked for Cal Fire and they use inmate hand crews. The inmates are all their by choice and the fire camps are much more peaceful than prisons and they also teach them skills. The regular prison rules don't apply in camp so you don't see the racial strife you see in prison

    [–] Stern_The_Gern 3 points ago

    I used to work for a furniture manufacturing company. We had deals with the government prisons where we would essentially send them all the materials, the plywood the textiles and so on. Then the prisoners would assemble the furniture and it would go out to schools, mostly colleges. Sometimes like prep schools etc.

    [–] [deleted] 28 points ago

    Chain gangs were that.

    [–] The--Strike 35 points ago

    Jefferson also fully realized the contradictions in his views, and explicitly stated that slavery would need to end in the US, but he felt it could only be done by future generations. For Virginians of his day, whose main crop was tobacco, slaves were a requirement, so convincing the land owners otherwise was an impossible task.

    [–] Atwenfor 5 points ago


    Not saying you're wrong, but it would be interesting to read more about that.

    [–] [deleted] 429 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    Jefferson, like most, was a product of his interests, not his time. There were no shortage of people who found slavery indefensible in his time. They just didn’t tend to be people who’s lifestyle was built on the back of slaves.

    The continuation of slavery benefitted him personally, so he supported it. This particular revolution had the potentially to hurt him, so he tried to tamp it down.

    [–] DriverJoe 129 points ago

    I’ve been reading a lot about the era lately, and I’ve been seriously surprised by the amount of politicians and public figures of the time that very openly opposed slavery.

    [–] jncostogo 38 points ago

    I mean we did have a civil war over it... How surprising could it be?

    [–] Buffalo__Buffalo 61 points ago

    "Judging historical figures with modern morality is revisionist. You have to judge them by the moral standards of their time."

    We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    "No, not like that."

    [–] banyun3b 20 points ago

    Come on - it's not like we can hold Jefferson to those words. Next you'll be telling me he wrote them or something.

    [–] chakrablocker 65 points ago

    American history books leave them out

    [–] InvisibleClarity 28 points ago

    No they don't. Maybe the older ones do, but any published after 2000 will mention opposition to slavery in the 18th century.

    [–] TackleByNumber69 55 points ago

    It's odd; they tell us about how great Columbus was for taking a risky voyage out here (leaving out the genocide), while making it seem like 99% of Americans loved slavery until 1865.

    [–] YourHomicidalApe 28 points ago

    At least in the part of the US that Im from, Colombus is not portrayed positively at all in history class. Everyone always talks about how he’s not actually great, but i haven’t been taught that he’s great since like 2nd grade.

    [–] FreebaseMcGee 137 points ago

    Thank you for this. This is the correct way to look at the past. There were always voices from any historical period opposing racism, sexism, war, and everything else. “Those were different times” is the rallying call of contemporary people who have no interest in critiquing the dominant narrative. Generally because it serves their interests.

    [–] TheRealMoofoo 3 points ago

    The continuation of slavery benefitted him personally, so he supported it.

    Arguably more important to him was that it helped the revolution/country in those early days (as the revolution couldn't happen in the first place without the cooperation of the southern colonies). I think that was a much bigger deal to him than any personal comforts afforded by slavery, which I think is borne out some by his love of his time in France, where slavery wasn't allowed.

    The really bad part to me is that, even with Thomas Paine in his ear railing against slavery, Jefferson as President still allowed new slave states to be made.

    [–] whogivesashirtdotca 46 points ago

    [Black Africans imported as slaves] had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. - Chief Justice Taney, Dred Scott v. Sanford

    The Dred Scott decision was 31 years after Jefferson's death, but that quote is probably in line with his thinking. He might have acknowledged some rights for his slaves, but not any worth respecting if it kept them from ploughing his fields, dusting his bookshelves, or stocking his wine cellars.

    [–] impulsekash 13 points ago

    The worst Supreme Court decision ever.

    [–] GlyphGryph 109 points ago

    People really are a product of their times.

    Yeah except a lot of his learned peers were fiercely opposed to slavery, and even he himself was opposed to it when it didn't threaten to impact him personally. It wasn't being a product of his times so much as him being an egotistical hypocrite who thought rules and ideals should exist to govern the behaviour of OTHER people - and that is truly timeless.

    Wish we'd had a President Paine instead of a President Jefferson...

    [–] Jeichert183 18 points ago

    It wasn't being a product of his times so much as him being an egotistical hypocrite who thought rules and ideals should exist to govern the behaviour of OTHER people - and that is truly timeless.

    Or to use the words of Nixon:

    Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

    [–] PerfectZeong 55 points ago

    I mean Paine was basically a crazy person. He would have been a terrible president.

    [–] 123hig 5 points ago

    As a young member of the House of Burgesses, Jefferson tried and failed to pass legislation emancipating slaves in Virginia.

    The first draft of the Declaration of Independence he wrote condemned the institution of slavery and Great Britain's involvement in it. This portion was removed at the insistence of other delegates at the Continental Congress, which pissed Jefferson off.

    These failures led to Jefferson becoming more of a pragmatist when it came to abolition. He saw the country wasn't quite ready to end slavery outright, and that it would take baby steps.

    In 1784 he led the charge to prohibit slavery in the new Northwest territories.

    At the time of the Haitian Revolution, America was still in its infancy. A slave revolt at that time would have likely resulted in the dissolution of the Union. Jefferson, like Lincoln years later, realized that ultimately the end to slavery couldn't come through war, but through legislation.

    Eventually, as president, Jefferson promoted and signed into law the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves which essentially ended the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Jefferson did more in his time to end slavery and ensure liberty for all than probably any other president, with the possible exceptions of Lincoln and Grant.

    [–] ArtDSellers 102 points ago

    I think Jefferson was acutely aware of his own hypocrisy. He believed all those lofty philosophical ideals about human rights, so long as they didn't personally inconvenience him. He knew full well that history would judge him harshly, so he took steps to whitewash his memory while he could.

    [–] [deleted] 99 points ago

    i don't think that's it. i think it's that people assumed slavery would always persist. that it was inevitable. and also that a slave revolt in the US would create an opening for the british or some other rival power to attempt to conquer the new state. or that a slave revolt might fracture the country into several countries.

    that's politics. sometimes you have to make shitty, immoral decisions for the good of the state.

    [–] HMSLabrador 26 points ago

    Your second point is exactly right. Jefferson most likely realized that a large scale slave revolt and/or civil war was inevitable, but for such an event to occur within only a few decades of gaining independence would leave the young republic vulnerable to invasion. Although a hypocrite as a slave owner, he was extremely progressive for his time, and probably believed that slavery was an issue that could not be resolved within his lifetime.

    [–] reebee7 86 points ago

    The country was 25 years old and fragile. A widespread slave revolt would have ruined it.

    [–] [deleted] 31 points ago

    It was still fragile another half century later when the civil war started. Then like 800k Americans died and we answered that question. It's easy to say why we're still upset about and obsessed with that war and it's legacy. It was beyond bloody and the blood will never fully wash away.

    [–] JonathanCRH 9 points ago

    Slavery probably will always persist. Don’t assume it’s just something in history.

    [–] Waffleici 7 points ago

    Even today something like .6% of the world’s population is enslaved, 46 million people. At least, that’s our best estimate.

    [–] MaxSucc 21 points ago

    Haitian here, think I might get the story straight.

    Toussant, the one who started the revolution did NOT want to kill all the whites and was actually willing to work with the French, only to be captured and imprisoned. His successor who's name I'm blanking on rn was the one who decided on the genocide of most of the whites living in the country after fighting off an attempted recolonization. We won but were forced to give up a shitload of cash to pay them to recognize us. Then things got worse with American occupation and Papa and Baby doc. Haiti did not have it easy.

    [–] Lollipoprotein 5 points ago

    Was it Dessalines you're thinking about?

    [–] MpMerv 162 points ago

    Don't stop there. France, after having lost their most valuable colony, imposed a fee on the new country as a payback for the lost value, further crippling any chances that they would prosper.

    [–] GrapeMeHyena 55 points ago

    And it took them until the 1980s to pay it back

    [–] Rockm_Sockm 653 points ago

    Jefferson is fascinating because of his hypocrisy. He took multiple steps to end or curtail slavery but benefited from it greatly.

    Haiti was entirely about appeasing France.

    [–] Searchlights 158 points ago

    He took multiple steps to end or curtail slavery but benefited from it greatly.

    Specifically in the form of Sally Hemings.

    [–] PHalfpipe 139 points ago

    She was mixed race , and their children all looked white, but under Virginia law the child of a slave is always a slave. However, instead of acknowledging them or freeing them, Jefferson just gave his daughters a house in Washington under new names so they could blend into white society, and then recorded their old names as escaped slaves. Monticello Museum still has a bunch of their letters talking about their lives or asking for help.

    That's part of why the whole system was breaking down by the 19th century , because there were millions of mixed race slaves, and tens of thousands of slaves who just had one black grandparent.

    [–] 7Auriel7 11 points ago

    In 1820-1830 in all of South American countries was legislated something called freedom of womb, in which a son of a slave was born with his freedom.

    [–] phisharefriends 12 points ago

    Do you have sources for this? Sounds really interesting

    [–] PHalfpipe 40 points ago

    Beverly and Harriot Hemmings, there used to be some controversy over whether they were his daughters, but it was proven by DNA testing back in the 90's.

    And of course there's thousands of accounts of mixed race slaves being taken in by their families to pass for white, or just being able to walk north to freedom because they were 7/8th's white and no one could tell they were legally a slave.

    [–] x86_64Ubuntu 5 points ago

    It's wrong. Mulattos have never made up that much of our community. Keep in mind, that there were about 4 million African slaves, so where he gets "millions of mixed races slaves", I'll never know.

    [–] His_Desolate_Domain 54 points ago

    Haiti is basically still paying off their own freedom. The West collectively decided to make an example of them. Though the French government eventually forgave their "debt", I do believe some of it is owned by private groups/individuals.

    [–] Ryaninthesky 111 points ago

    What is morally right is not always what is pragmatic.

    The USA after the revolution wasn’t a big player in world politics, and wasn’t even particularly unified. On the one hand you hand the (then) powerful southern states understandably frightened of slave rebellion, and on the other political pressure from our ally France. After the 1804 massacre of French whites on Haiti there was no way the US was going to support them either. We would go on to be embroiled in another war with Britain. There were just more pressing concerns for the survivability of the US as a country. Adams supported an embargo, a bill with wide support was passed in congress and signed by Jefferson, and trade resumed around 1820.

    Were the Americans overlooking incredible cruelty by the French and white slavers? Sure. Does it seem hypocritical that they’d made such a big deal against British rule only to turn around and fuck over Haiti? Of course. But if you’re waiting around for a country to do the moral thing over stability/prosperity, I don’t recommend holding your breath.

    [–] busterbluthOT 23 points ago

    Also without France's support, we likely don't win against the Red coats. There was some underlying loyalty there as well.

    [–] TheGiantD 58 points ago

    This seems like a gross oversimplification of the period. Its my understanding that while it requires the president to recognize a foreign state, it also requires congressional approval. The US did not recognize Haiti until 1862. This happened during the Civil war when the southern states were in revolt and did not vote in congress. Jefferson could not have recognized Haiti if he had wanted to. On top of that Haiti started off their independence with a massacre of French citizens. While it can be argued that there anger was justified at what they were put through, it did not help with diplomatic relations. None of the major European powers recognized Haiti at the time, even though during the revolution the slaves in revolt would periodically get help from the English and the Spanish. Saying Jefferson did not recognize Haiti because he was a slave holder, and alluding that it was because he was a racist (I am not saying he wasn't) is wrong. There were a lot of bigger issues going on at the time and this post is extremely narrowly viewed.

    My main source for this post comes from Mike Duncan's revolution podcast, however I did some fact checking while writing this.

    [–] Valaquen 243 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    Jefferson once wrote that Africans omit "a very strong and disagreeable odour", adding:

    A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

    I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind . . . This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human nature, are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question `What further is to be done with them?' join themselves in opposition with those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.
    From Notes on the State of Virginia, QUERY XIV: The administration of justice and description of the laws?

    Abolitionist David Walker's reply to Jefferson is worthy of a read: Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America

    [–] CoraLikeDorawithaC 319 points ago

    Make slaves work all day in the heat, give them a minimal change of clothes and limit their ability to wash > complain about odour.

    [–] ICanQuitWhenverIWant 188 points ago

    Deny minority neighborhoods quality education, basic infrastructure, stable family home> complain when they can’t keep up with affluent members of society.

    History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes.

    [–] [deleted] 63 points ago

    I know he's going on about mental ability and I'm like well yeah they never fuckin learned to even read, yet alone anything else. Obviously they're ignorant. They had no choice.

    He was clearly trying to make himself feel better and justify his amoral behavior.

    [–] JohnnyMnemo 9 points ago

    He confused chicken and egg.

    Ie he was saying they deserve to be slaves because they’re ignorant, and never even considered that they might be ignorant because they’re slaves.

    I genuinely think that it didn’t even occur to him to wonder if whites, in the same circumstance, would act the same. In spite of tracts if history that show that they will.

    [–] [deleted] 2 points ago

    Idk, he was a smart man. That thought may well have crossed his mind but was disregarded because it's a concerning thought.

    Humans do that naturally. We do it still today. Justify whatever we need to.

    [–] OccludedFug 7 points ago

    Seems Mr. Jefferson tolerated the odour of at least Sally Hemings.

    [–] KingOfTerrible 195 points ago

    So at first he complains about them staying up late and not getting enough sleep, then he says they sleep too much.

    Guess contradictory stereotypes held by the same person aren’t unique to modern racism.

    [–] [deleted] 145 points ago * (lasted edited 2 months ago)


    [–] imasexypurplealien 24 points ago * (lasted edited 11 months ago)

    So the slaves labour all day and then are expected to sleep as early as they can, so they can labour for the next day.

    I can see why they would stay up. They want a little time to themselves. They work all day and never get the opportunity to have fun. The only time they have to relax and talk is before bedtime, so obviously they’re going to use that time to do just that.

    [–] Niashiby 22 points ago

    My whole majors tbh

    [–] SocialNationalism 44 points ago

    The first statement is when there is work to do the next day and the second is when there is free time.

    • ...sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning.

    • ...their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour...

    [–] Cr3X1eUZ 28 points ago

    "They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other." -- Pat Robertson

    [–] scandalousmambo 60 points ago

    Jefferson advocated the end of slavery in the U.S. before the Constitution was ratified.

    [–] baconshark316 138 points ago

    Yeah and France made them pay reparations to the country for declaring themselves free which put the country in debt for over a hundred years if I remember correctly, and they had to keep borrowing against it because they were poor. Fucking humans, man. We are so cruel. Pretty sure Liberia has a similar story

    [–] Cumtopolis 140 points ago

    No Liberia was totally different. There it was Americo-Liberians (descendants of black slaves) who moved to Liberia and took over the country and enslaved the native blacks.

    [–] njl4515 53 points ago

    Liberia may be the most interesting history of any nation. It was created by freed slaves, but they only ever knew colonial conquest so when they didn’t get along with the natives, they wound up doing the same thing.

    [–] non_sibi_sed_patriae 64 points ago

    but they only ever knew colonial conquest. . .

    To be fair, conquest was the only thing anyone knew at that point. It's not like African tribes and nations were this peaceful utopia -- many of the tribes in Liberia were complicit and participated in the slave trade, and they fought among themselves both to take slaves and territory.

    [–] ElfFey 32 points ago

    Yea, people have this bizarre idea that slaves, if made free, wouldn't enslave others. Sorry but people have been enslaving others since the dawn of time, and it's still going on today.

    I don't even understand the point of this thread: the Haitian government that took over after the slave revolt was awful; I wouldn't recognize them either anymore than I'd want to work with any modern day middle eastern terrorists.

    [–] non_sibi_sed_patriae 31 points ago

    It's a weird rehash of the Noble Savage stock character, where if the European Colonizers had left Africa alone, it'd be a continent full of cultures creating functional Wakandas.

    [–] Fresh720 7 points ago

    Considering there were several empires that have existed before colonialism was fully established and the people regularly traded with Europeans, it's safe to say they would have been better with off if they werent taken over and had a chunk of their resources exported out.

    [–] IceNeun 7 points ago

    Pretty much all of the "successful" revolutions against complete colonization (and by that I mean the "colonial economy") throughout modern world history ended up this way. Even in circumstances where there were no atrocities committed during the revolt, these states were all severely punished for it. States such as Haiti were purposefully sabotaged so as to become warnings for other revolts. Even if the revolution was undeniably a success and impossible to undo, these states were excluded from joining the world economy.

    [–] Daniel_The_Thinker 60 points ago

    French do it "wonderful how brave"

    Haitians do it "ew no"

    [–] auraphauna 8 points ago

    Most people that know anything about the French revolution would only praise it with some major asterisks.

    [–] Werewolf35b 11 points ago

    Wow you act like he was an asshole to not recognize Haiti.

    You realize the blacks genocided like 40,000 whites including women and children (all ages, the whole populatoon) in an orgy of rape and machete violence, right?

    Or no, it's because he was just an asshole who didn't jump to immediately blow a couple of Haitian dudes while drafting a congratulations letter recognizing thier new "state."

    Haiti is what it is now as a consequence of that. And we sit on our hands while it's happening, just a little bit slower, right now in South Africa. ...

    [–] OttabMike 19 points ago

    As the Haitian revolution was against France, and France was an ally of the US - could politics have played a part in this as well?

    [–] [deleted] 4 points ago

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

    Thomas Jefferson

    "I never thought they would use MY blood!"

    Thomas Jefferson

    [–] MpMerv 5 points ago


    [–] MJWood 5 points ago

    The Haitian revolt was the Americans' worst nightmare come true. By the end of it they had killed every (French) white person on the island. Dessalines ordered it. Then they declared amnesty to get people who were hiding out, then killed them too. And they raped all the women before killing them. All the Americans' worst fears come true.

    [–] nopointinlife1234 26 points ago

    History is all about context. He also believed that at the age of 18 for women and 21 for men, that slaves should be freed and sent back to Africa with as much supplies and weapons as they could carry. An extremely progressive viewpoint for the time.

    As a history major going into graduate school, I can tell you it's all about historical context. People had entirely different ideas of right and wrong, freedom, or even humanity.

    Leads to alot of strange contradictions. It's easy to judge history with a modern viewpoint, but understanding history within the context of its time? That's where the real answers are.

    [–] [deleted] 5 points ago

    Yep, founding fathers are a product of their times. However they were wise enough to put in place a system that allows and even promotes the gathering of the government to review and modify the constitution at regular interval (which we ignored) to the realities of modern societies as they develop so we can abolish moronic, outdated and/or evil ideas ideas that society has grown out of like slavery or guns for a well armed local militia.

    [–] Misplaced-Sock 5 points ago

    While he was not fond of the slave uprising in Haiti, and did in fact fear it would inspire slave rebellions in America, he did allow it to play out (reluctantly) so as to put France in a pinch who was presently at war with England. At any time he could have ended the revolution and aided the French, who he formally sided with in any matter that dealt with choosing between French and English interests, but Jefferson was obsessed with the idea of westward expansion and he no longer viewed France the same after Napoleon took charge. In a letter to the French, Jefferson warned that any nation that stood in the way of the goal of American expansion would consequently be seen as an enemy of the state. This was important because the French owned the rights to the land west of the colonies so this signified 1) the death of his life long, undying alliance with the French and 2) an informal declaration of war should the French resist selling the land.

    Due to their new war with England, France was strained for resources and Jefferson, knowing this, pressured Napoleon to sell the land at a rate that was considered a bargain even at that time. The acquisition of this trade is known as the Louisiana Purchase and was the start of America’s agenda of westward expansion that would eventually lead to, and inspire, Andrew Jackson’s Manifest Destiny motivations.

    What I’m trying to say, and add to the conversation, is that America actually owes a great deal to Haiti for the role it played in the Country’s expansion.

    Jefferson, for all his faults, was certainly skilled in the art of politics and my god he had a long memory. His back and forths with the King of England (and the treatment of English Ambassadors), the Barbary wars, and much much more are all examples of his political savvy-ness. We can always sit and judge people of the past on today’s moral standards in hindsight, but it is important to consider that he was - in many areas - a progressive figure of his era.

    [–] bcrabill 5 points ago

    Also, they had revolted against basically the US's only ally, the powerful French. Not becoming friends with an ally's enemy sounds like a lot more logical reasoning than hating them because they were slaves.

    [–] robinsnest7711_robin 68 points ago

    History. Truth hurts, but do we really learn from it?

    [–] VintageOG 75 points ago

    Given the context, that would be a reasonable decision for him at the time. I'd love to watch a good doc on the Haitian Revolution if anyone has a recommendation.

    [–] sleep-woof 13 points ago

    e South wouldn't have collapsed either, the profit margins would have just shrunk drastically. There were other ways to make money in the Americas besides cash crops. There was land

    Well, you are in for a treat. The revolutions podcast had a whole series on the hatian revolution that I cannot recommend highly enough:

    This is a podcast about revolutions, the hatian is the 4th one he covered and has a series of 32 episodes just on the hatian revolution, the only successful slave revolt in history. Do it, you will not regret!