Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the Declaration of Independence, and publicly acknowledged that slavery was “a great political and moral evil.” Yet the same man who wrote that all men were entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” acquired and maintained his wealth, status and power from the bondage of others – many others.
This text sets out Jefferson’s words and actions and asks students to consider (and, hopefully, discuss and debate) whether or not Jefferson was a hypocrite who should be condemned, or simply a man in authority who should be judged by the standards of his day and time. It invites students to examine both the historical and ethical questions that should be considered when judging the behavior of people from the past.
This is the chapter “Was Jefferson a Hypocrite,” from my textbook “We Take Nothing by Conquest”
These chapters are also part of a complete and comprehensive unit
on the American Revolution. That complete unit includes not only this text but also inquiry based study guides, PowerPoints, activities, assessments and projects designed to accompany the text, along with a Teacher’s Guide for using all of the materials
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