From what I've read, the founding fathers felt that slavery was an inefficient system that would die out on its own. And it was indeed headed in that direction -- until the invention of the cotton gin changed everything.
Me, either, my opinions expressed here are just speculation and interpretation based on what I know of Jefferson. And he was such an intensely private man, that probably not even the foremost scholars of his life know what he really felt.I haven't read enough about Sally Hemings to form a well educated opinion on the kind of relationship she had with Jefferson. Obviously a relationship between master and slave would be different than between white husband and wife. Jefferson was ahead of his time in many respects, but still very human and a man of his times with respect to slavery. I don't think that means that the relationship could not have been a caring one.
One thing interesting -- last night I went back and re-read some of the earlier posts in this thread. Taking the numbers Matt cited I did the math and calculated that Jefferson began his relationship with Sally when he was approximately 45 and she was 15. For me, that puts an additional twist on it.
[quote=""Divia""]But here's the thing. I'm not making Jefferson a villain. He was a man of his time. Nothing more nothing less.[/quote] Me, neither. I understand the dilemma he and the other founding fathers (and others of that time) were caught in. They didn't create the slavery system, it had developed over more than 100 years and they inherited it. It was a real quagmire and there was no fast and easy way to end it.
I do think, though, as I have stated before, that all things considered, even within the context of the times in which he lived Jefferson could have done better by his slaves (and Sally in particular) than he did. I'm not calling him a hypocrite nor do I think he was a villain -- I just think he could have done better.