Evaluation Essay on the Declaration of Independence

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The vision of Freedom is varied. For Americans, their freedom was written in the Declaration of Independence stating, 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 (The Declaration Of Independence). It cannot be said the same for the black community. The perspective of the inhumane treatment towards black individuals. Is countered by the ascribed past. Further known as the Declaration of Independence. The vision of freedom or the declaration did vary and is still continuously seen today from the declaration alienating black people. The declaration was authored by a historical figure. Thomas Jefferson along with a few other appointees. Jefferson writing this declaration has been used for hundreds of years for argument’s sake and political reasonings. Even having his name on street signs, schools, or buildings. But when truly having the perspective of who Thomas Jefferson was, it becomes difficult to attune to his ideology and who he was as a man. a hypocrite.

The question then can be asked. How do we remember our historical figures or history? And to answer the question is to remember its virtue and iniquity. The problem with America today is remembering anything historical. Is the information artificial? It's never the real story and most of the time, not even part of the story is true. But because America wants to make face for those who live in the country it is displayed that the growth of America was from historical figures when it was really from the backs of slaves. Most of the history of slaves is covered like a veil on a bride. For example, slaves for years had dealt with the feeling of alienation by way of ungiven rights. For one ​ “Africans were kidnapped and forced into slavery by Europeans; they were separated from their families and forced to work on plantations”. They were placed in unbearable conditions and prevalent racism attached to this system fueled the mistreatment and oppression of black people for years to come.

When looking at the relationship between slavery. Slaves and slave owners had some type of relation or power over each other. Without slaves, America would have not been able to grow and achieve. Africans worked in unbearable conditions such as weather conditions and unhealthy areas for working. Slaves had to work in plantations on the field from sunup to sundown. Not having laws issued to protect them from such inhumane treatment. Because there was nothing to insinuate no hard labor. There were no timely breaks given like there are now. The payments received were in the form of food, which was very minimal. “ little things such as rice or porridge were given” and not in the correct form being uncooked.

Most of the time when Africans were given food it was only enough to last them a couple of weeks after distributing it along to others. The issue with this is from the time African people entered American colonies. There was not one ounce of freedom given to African people. The hard labor on plantations did not just stop there but “ Many masters took sexual liberties with slave women and rewarded obedient slave behavior with favors, while rebellious slaves were brutally punished.” The punishments for slaves were more than just brutal but inhumane. They were put in shackles like dogs and were given the ability to whip slaves with whips into their flesh. White men would hang slaves also known as lynching and “leave the body there until a slave would take the body down.”

Disobedience to slave owners was slaves having no respect for them. White men were on this high horse looking down on African people prancing all through their will to live. If a slave was to be out of order or have the idea to make a run for it. They were either punished or the whole plantation was. In some instances, death seemed to be the easier way out. The white man was drunk with power and greedy for slaves and would rape women for pleasure or to reproduce more slaves. In the white man’s eyes, their morals were elite, a biracial child was not of “ a white or purebreds but in fact negro.” Time and time again women were raped by slave owners having to take care of their children with no support.

Raping women was not the only thing a slave owner would take away. But if they felt threatened or an ounce of their pride spilled they “raped men to show who had dominance”. Not only was this degrading to African people but the act was done in front of the whole plantation to let them understand who is the higher hierarchy. The treatment of African people was inhumane to the point that their clothes were withering. Men and boys were made to wear dresses. “ the way they sought out to completely emasculate enslaved boys and men by denying them the right to wear pants.”

Not only were these acts occurring all through the American colonies. But the American historical figure everyone so appreciates, Thomas Jefferson was following along behind these acts. During his, life he was aided by a slave at birth and until death. He even had his own plantation of slaves. His “slaves count“ was around 600 slaves throughout his lifetime.” Engaged in acts such as having children with a slave. The famous mistress everyone calls Sally Hemming was not a mistress but “ she was his property. And he raped her” Sally Hemming was a slave and at the time of her rape, she was fourteen years old. “Female slaves had no legal right to refuse unwanted sexual advances.” Back then if a man wanted to have intercourse with a woman who was in slavery it was just considered a right to the white man because he owned the slave. When really it was rape. Fighting back from sexual abuse was wrong and after being violated. Women were punished for fighting for what was being done to them.

The overall treatment of slaves is a disgrace to America. Just in that couple of hundred years, Americans were able to produce two things that contradict themselves. The Declaration of Independence was written to bring freedom to all individuals on America’s soil. But the colony's greed made its way in. Slavery was placed for their own sake of having food and material goods for themselves. Not once sharing with Africans leaving them in the state of being alienated in the country.

The textbook shows it from a whole different perspective. A whole two chapters will be about Thomas Jefferson and his accomplishments, but a few pages regarding slavery in history. If America is able to display acts of aggression towards slaves in such a diminishing way. Still, continuing to put black people in the act of oppression. Then why are Thomas Jefferson’s wrongful acts not displayed in textbooks, but rather in the form of being the greatest historical figure?

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Virtue and iniquity need to be shown. Thomas Jefferson's acts as a hypocrite were not even the start of American figures degrading blacks. Jefferson was the representation of leading not only America but future figures in the acts of being a hypocrite and not in the right thinking of judgment. If Jefferson really believed in “​Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Then why was slavery a huge factor then? It could be fair to say that Thomas Jefferson is one man. One person cannot just stop slavery, but he could have protested against it. He could have started off by ending acts of owning slaves and having raping relations with a fourteen-year-old girl that continued for many years later.

The Irony of this is Thomas Jefferson protested to have freedom for not just himself, but also the others around him. Thomas Jefferson had felt as if he was given unfair rights and was “accounted for attending meetings in town and hearing and understanding the confinement of the British parliament.” Jefferson was appointed as the author for writing the declaration of his loyalty as well as attending meetings. The whole declaration was about freedom and was written to King Henry VIII and his other appointees. To have the right to be separated from the parliament because of bondage. The main idea of the declaration was for free will. African people literally wanted the same thing. Instead, they were kept in bondage for hundreds of years, having mindsets of oppression from only knowing the taught behavior.

Thomas Jefferson and others in the colonies did not care about the treatment of African people. Thomas Jefferson was okay with African people having an inferior mindset. Or this would be a different affair. The only time Jefferson instituted to end slavery was for the sake of the people. “Ending slavery depended on removing blacks to another land entirely.” Thomas Jefferson’s proposition for having slaves moved or ended was based on the fear of war. “ Thomas Jefferson felt that continuing with slavery would soon bring war. He was correct about the civil war that happened years later. Although stopping slavery would be good for slaves it was not for them. In fact, Thomas Jefferson expressed his behavior toward African people in his journaling. “​ ​Jefferson believed that black people were physically, mentally, and emotionally inferior to whites and used pseudoscience to try to justify his opinion.” His ways of mentally and physically abusing slaves were through the use of science.

During colonial times Slave owners were known for using practices of science or a white Jesus to justify their acts of treating humans wrong. In most cases, slaves were even taught this religion to brainwash them into believing that what slave owners were doing was a right as well as necessary. One of the most common verses used in the bible to justify wrong was, Ephesians VI, 5-7: “ Servants be obedient to them that are your master according to the flesh.” Slave owners would twist what the bible was insinuating. Taking verses out of context. When it was not the servitude of the white man, but serving Jesus Christ.

The type of treatment Thomas Jefferson enacted in for slaves. These were the common acts that any slave owner would engage in. He sold slaves based upon selfishness“ When cash was in short supply, he sold his slaves to raise more. In the ten-year period between 1784 and 1794, Jefferson sold at least eighty-five slaves to raise cash to buy wine, art, furniture, and other luxury items.” The only time Jefferson took into consideration slaves was his own children and even then the children were servants in the house, “Jefferson freed only 7 of his more than 600 slaves: 2 during his lifetime, and 5 in his will. Three more, likely Jefferson's children.” Thomas Jefferson was just like every slave owner. If slavery was to end, Thomas Jefferson wanted slaves to maintain a slave-like mentality. The ideal for Jefferson was not total freedom for African people, but to still keep them in the mindset that African American people were still inferior to whites. still causing destruction and a war later. A probable cause in why slavery did not end, was from whites, believing that African people or African Americans should remain in lower status or always below them. In this circumstance, it can be seen why the history of slavery is the way it is. Slave owners did not want to accept the fact that African people should be considered the same or have equal rights. Which then brings America’s history to another century.

The Declaration of the Pursuit of Happiness and why black people did not receive the same equal rights as white people. Was through America’s start of a journey of discrimination. Black people were so oppressed that it wasn’t until “1865 the fourteen amendments was ratified.” African people were not introduced as African Americans until Americans deemed so even after the many years of hard labor in America. Even then with have one of the first laws to be on the African Americans’ side. There were other laws in place only giving them semi-equal rights.

To put it into simpler terms the Declaration of Independence is a slap to the face for black people. Black people cannot get enough when it comes to injustice in America. It’s ironic that a century later the Declaration of Independence was written. There was finally a guarantee that Black individuals would be able to justify that the Declaration of Independence was for them by getting the okay from the whites first. With black people, there was something that was always attached when it came to black people’s freedom. For example, when given the right to vote black people had to take the literacy test that was impossible to pass. Not having any black people voting for rights or even elections.

Black people had to follow laws such as equal but separate laws, laws placed to discriminate against black people. Blacks were given the right to drink from the fountain, but not with white people. Schools were branded colored and white never integrating them because whites stood as the superiors ones. Just like the mindset of Thomas Jefferson wanting slavery to end in some way, but only under the circumstances of white people still feeling as if they have a higher power. This mentality that whites have stems from the mentality of Americans receiving independence from the British. Although these actions are unlawful now and are placed for the protection of black people. There are many circumstances that which these actions are not being enforced as much as there need to be. The fundamental of this human flaw revolves around communities, schools, and especially the workplace. Black people currently are still being degraded as a human. From the flaws of other people.

Having The Declaration of Independence be null and void to blacks has caused a domino effect when it comes to racism to this day and age. If looking at Thomas Jefferson’s approval of how the system is currently. He would most likely fall into the category of both. The reasoning behind this is that a black person is given actual rights and is considered American something Thomas Jefferson did not agree on. Black people are allowed to attend schools with multicultural races rather than one. Or having the ability to have an education in this case because black people were not given that right. When looking at America’s dynamics there is not too much to consider. Sure Black people have more freedom and rights, but hidden under is a baggage claim. Full of unnecessary discrimination that black people have to go through. Black people at times are looked like an inferior race. Black people were documented as minorities when black people were alongside whites.

Overall if looking at the circumstances a century ago until now then yes there has been changing, but there has not been enough. Black people are constantly put in the mindset that they are born inferior when they are in fact, human. It’s ironic that the Declaration of Independence states human rights, but black people did not receive that end of the stick. Having a domino effect on later generations of black people. Stopping the domino effect of discrimination towards blacks does not just take two years, but probably many decades.

Work Cited

    1. Danielle, Britni,​ Sally Hemings Wasn’t Thomas Jefferson’s Mistress. She was his property. ​The Washington Post, 7 July 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/sally-hemings-wasnt-thomas-jeffersons-
    2. Finkelman, Paul. ​Thomas Jefferson and Slavery, ​Encyclopedia Virginia, Virginia Humanities,​https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Jefferson_Thomas_and_Slavery#start_entry
    3. History, ​Slavery In America, ​History, A & E Television Networks, 13 Dec 2019, https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery
    4. Jefferson, Thomas,​ “Declaration Of Independence.”, 1776.
    5. Rae, Noel. ​How Christian Slaveholders Used the Bible to Justify Slavery,​ Time,​ 23 Feb 2018,​https://time.com/5171819/christianity-slavery-book-excerpt/
    6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/sally-hemings-wasnt-thomas-jeffersons-
    7. https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Jefferson_Thomas_and_Slavery#start_entry
    8. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/slavery
    9. https://time.com/5171819/christianity-slavery-book-excerpt/
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Evaluation Essay on the Declaration of Independence. (2024, January 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/evaluation-essay-on-the-declaration-of-independence/
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