Logically & morally, one cannot be faulted for something outside of one's choice. Slavery was OBTRUDED on the Colonies by King George III. Thomas Jefferson INHERITED slaves. It was AGAINST THE LAW TO FREE THEM. When he was 26 years old, chosen for the first time to be a member of a legislature, he submitted a bill for the EMANCIPATION of ALL slaves. As a lawyer in 1770, age 27, Jefferson defended a slave, saying: "Under the law of nature, all men are born free."
1769: Chosen for the first time to be a member of a legislature, Thomas Jefferson made one effort in the House of Burgesses for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, but was rejected.
From Jefferson's autobiography: http://www.constitution.org/tj/jeff01.txt
"In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, and so continued until it was closed by the Revolution. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal could expect success."
1770: As a lawyer, Thomas Jefferson defended a slave, saying: "Under the law of nature, all men are born free."
"Under the law of nature, all men are born free; everyone comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the Author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance." -- Thomas Jefferson: Legal Argument, 1770. FE 1:376
1776: He strongly condemned slavery in his version of the Declaration of Independence.
"He (King George III) has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another."http://www.princeton.edu/~tjpapers/declaration/declaration.html
1778: The legislature passed a bill he proposed to ban further importation of slaves into Virginia.
“On Government for the Western Territory, the basic document for the growth of the United States... Jefferson's effort to abolish slavery failed by one vote.”http://history-world.org/thomas_jefferson.htm
1784: His draft of what became the Northwest Ordinance stipulated that "there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" in any of the new states admitted to the Union from the Northwest Territory.
1806: President Jefferson requested Congress to ban all slave importation to the US.
1807: Jefferson signed a bill abolishing the slave trade: On March 3, 1807, as President of the USA, Thomas Jefferson signed a bill making slave importation illegal in the United States.
"While Jefferson did not free all of his slaves on his death (as did Washington), a law passed in Virginia in 1806 required that the legislature pass a special bill that would attest to the exemplary behavior of each slave to be freed. If freed, THE SLAVE HAD TO LEAVE THE STATE WITHOUT HIS OR HER FAMILY.
Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to get this law changed. Further, Jefferson trained his slaves in skills that would be useful when they were free. He believed that to free them first would be irresponsible -- since they would be homeless and without family."http://www.liberty1.org/defense.htm
For clarity: The law passed in VA in 1806 allowed ONLY the SELF-SUPPORTING to be freed. The freed must leave the state within the year. If a self-supporting slave had children or parents who were not, he/she had to leave them. Jefferson did not want to separate families.
Jefferson did not want nor need slaves. He inherited them. A first-time legislator at age 26, he wanted to free all slaves. He fought all his life to free them. Jefferson was a polymath and polyglot. He passed the bar at age 22. He was an architect, a scientist, an inventor. He never patented any of his inventions.
After being away from his farm for 10 years, serving his country, he found it deranged. He became a NAILMAKER. From age 26 to 66, he served his country, and after that, he served the causes of science and education.
JEFFERSON (Thomas), A Nailmaker. "In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest employment is deemed honorable. I am myself a nail-maker. On returning home after an absence of ten years, I found my farms so much deranged that I saw evidently they would be a burden to me instead of a support till I could regenerate them; and, consequently, that it was necessary for me to find some other resource in the meantime. I thought for a while of taking up the manufacture of potash, which requires but small advances of money. I concluded at length, however, to begin a manufacture of nails, which needs little or no capital, and I now employ a dozen little boys from ten to sixteen years of age, overlooking all the details of their business myself, and drawing from it a profit on which I can get along till I can put my farms into a course of yielding profit. My new trade of nail-making is to me in this country what an additional title of nobility or the ensigns of a new order are in Europe."
T. Jefferson to M. de Meunier. Ford ed., vii, 14. (M., 1795.)
Related article: DNA Evidence has Exonerated Jefferson