Hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson and the Hypothetical Promises of the Declaration of Independence

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The statement ‘All men are created equal’ only began to ring true hundreds of years after 1776. The promises of the Declaration of Independence fell short of what was guaranteed at the time and 'all men' were merely hypothetical. The words of Thomas Jefferson and his actions greatly contradict themselves, making him a hypocrite. In this free country, African Americans, women, and other marginalized groups were denied liberties they were supposed to have. The Declaration of Independence was a self-indulgent document for the founding fathers of the United States. On many occasions, Thomas Jefferson made many belittling and racist remarks. Ultimately, it made promises that weren't followed through till centuries later.

The injustices in the United States were not corrected or changed by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Declaration states: “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”. It's thought that 'all men' would include all citizens of the United States, but this was far from the truth. Hundreds of thousands of black men and women were held as slaves up until 1865. Women were expected to care for their husbands' homes and children and were denied the right to vote, they were treated as their husbands' property. Thomas Jefferson has many sexist quotes, such as: “A lady who has been seen as a sloven or slut in the morning will never efface the impression she has made, with all dress and pageantry she can afterwards involve herself in...I hope therefore, the moment you rise from bed, your first work will be to dress yourself in such style as that you may be seen by any gentleman without his being able to discover a pin amiss” (Padover, 1956, p. 16). He regularly degraded women and had the opinion that they were not intelligent enough for politics. Even after women were allowed the right to vote, black women were still denied suffrage. The Declaration claimed we as people had natural-born rights, yet the law allowed marginalized groups to be treated less than human.

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The Declaration of Independence only benefited people similar to Thomas Jefferson: property-owning white men. In fact, white men who owned land and were over the age of 21 were the only people allowed to vote for a certain amount of time. Slaves were considered property and they were important to the founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson had about 130 slaves who were forced to tend gardens and livestock, plow fields, and work at the on-site textile factory ('Thomas Jefferson Biography'). Jefferson understood slavery at a systematic level and how it was so deeply incorporated into the southern economy. Despite his understanding, he didn't need to rely on slave labor for income because he was born into a rich and powerful family. Thomas Jefferson never freed his slaves even though he easily could have. Jefferson made racist remarks which showed his disregard for African Americans. He believed in false sciences which promoted white supremacy, such as: “They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odor. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold, than the whites” ('Thomas Jefferson’s Racism', 1788). Thomas Jefferson didn't care about the harms of slavery and blatant misinformation because they worked in his favor.

In conclusion, Thomas Jefferson was hypocritical in numerous ways. He wrote the words ‘All men are created equal’, but allowed slavery to continue and freedoms to be taken away from marginalized groups. The Declaration of Independence only benefited people like the founding fathers at the time. Ultimately, Jefferson's words of empowerment to the people greatly contradicted his actions and what he truly meant.

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Hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson and the Hypothetical Promises of the Declaration of Independence. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/hypocrisy-of-thomas-jefferson-and-the-hypothetical-promises-of-the-declaration-of-independence/
“Hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson and the Hypothetical Promises of the Declaration of Independence.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/hypocrisy-of-thomas-jefferson-and-the-hypothetical-promises-of-the-declaration-of-independence/
Hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson and the Hypothetical Promises of the Declaration of Independence. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/hypocrisy-of-thomas-jefferson-and-the-hypothetical-promises-of-the-declaration-of-independence/> [Accessed 24 Jun. 2024].
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