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Thomas Jefferson should have freed his slaves

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/14/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 710 times Debate No: 103201
Debate Rounds (1)
Comments (3)
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From the Enlightenment to his death, Thomas Jefferson was a strong anti-slavery advocate. His ideals stretched towards a more united America. His ideals moved towards a less segregated country.
His hopes were unrealistic.
Jefferson, being submerged in his strong morals of a harmonious future, hoped that all men should be equal. That all men should be free. That all men should live in a utopia. But utopias don"t exist as we all know. Utopias are unrealistic and utopias are
bias, as one man"s utopia is another man"s dystopia. As Dante Alighieri said in the Inferno: "one man"s angel is another man"s devil"

Jefferson"s slave-less society would have crushed the economy; bring America into a recession far greater and far earlier than the Great Depression of the 1930"s. It is an undeniable fact that the thirteen colonies strongly depended on the slave trade to keep the country together, to act as a glue. Without the trade, money would be thin, joblessness would devour the streets and even the most generous people would be stripped of the money that they could possibly give. The North would be useless and the south would go into poverty. The very infrastructure that The United States of America is built upon would no longer have existed. According to The Atlantic Monthly Group, nearly 4 million American slaves were worth some $3.5 billion before the Civil War, making them the largest financial asset to the US and a great advantage over other countries. Quora states that "a young slave would have costed around $2000 when an acre of land only costed $5".

If Thomas Jefferson were to free his slaves, his reputation as a politician and public figure would have destroyed by the South. He would be considered a laughingstock of the time. He would have been seethed and his incredible ideas and innovations would have been ignored or ridiculed. This would have taken away from his past reputation and how he was viewed by the Southern public. Jefferson did the right thing keeping his slaves, though many would say he wasn"t practicing what he was preaching by keeping his slaves, he was. If he were to sell the slaves, they would have lived in much worse conditions than Jefferson was providing. In some ways he was protecting the slaves from the issues he was trying to resolve. Because Jefferson treated his slaves with much greater respect than most slave owners would, selling them to different owners would have technically enslaved them more.
"We have the wolf by it"s ear, and we can either hold him, nor safely let him go." Jefferson is saying that he wants to free the slaves, but he fears the dangers and risks, that come with their freedom, threatening his family and others.


My opponent"s argument starts off stating that if Jefferson had a slave less society it would lead to economic collapse. I would point out that America banning slavery in the late 1700s and Jefferson freeing his slaves are two entirely different things, and thus irrelevant. He also makes the statement that the slave trade (which I may remind you is different from Jefferson owning or not owning slaves) is the "glue" that held the union together. This notion is ridiculous because (among many other reasons) it was banned in 1807[3]. As much as I would like to dispel in more detail the idea that the slave trade, or slavery for that matter, was vital to the US economy and was the "glue" that held the states together, I only have 3,000 characters and one round. (This is why one round debates with these characters limits are bad.)

In the second paragraph, my opponent makes slightly more relevant arguments, though still gravely flawed. He states that if Jefferson had freed his slaves, he would have been considered a laughing stock and everything he did would be tainted. This is a very curious idea, and I wonder how my opponent arrived at this conclusion. Benjamin Franklin, one of the most revered founding fathers, prominent abolition and all, freed his slaves. [1] As did George Washington, the father of the country. [2] So to say that freeing his slaves would do any more damage to his career than preaching equality while owning slaves is absolutely ludicrous. I would also like to point out that my opponent does not even seem to keep a steady grip on what the resolution is. Halfway through he makes an argument of all the terrible things that would happen if Jefferson sold his slaves, which is not what the topic states. The topic clearly states Jefferson freeing his slaves, not selling them. So again, this argument is irrelevant. Nevertheless, I would like to dispel the idea that Jefferson"s slaves were treated like actual human beings. While Jefferson himself did not beat or torture or starve his slaves, his overseers sure did on par or worse than what the standard was at the time. [4] This, and the fact that he owned human beings, thus degrading their perceived human value, hardly gives Jefferson credit for being "kind."

With regards to the final quote my opponent brings up, Jefferson is referring to the wholesale banning of slavery, not the freeing of his own personal slaves, so again, not relevant here.

At the very least Jefferson could have done what Washington did and freed his slaves in his will. However, the aristocratic, possibly racist side of him won out over the moralistic side of him, and thus why he did not free his slaves.

Debate Round No. 1
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Currahee150 3 years ago
Well, links seem to be working. I don't feel as if I had enough space to say everything I wanted to against your case, and you never had any chance to respond to mine. Therefore, in the future, I advise having multi round debate as it allows points to be clarified and added upon.
Posted by Currahee150 3 years ago
Hmm, I can't seem to be able to find the link to this debate through the debates tab, only through my profile. May be a bug. It may be a good idea to reset this debate.
Posted by Currahee150 3 years ago
3,000 characters in only one round seems a little short to me, but this should be interesting anyway.
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