Primary Resource

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William Short (January 18, 1826)

In this letter to William Short, dated January 18, 1826, Thomas Jefferson conveys his thoughts on emancipating enslaved Africans.

Transcription from Original

Monticello Jan. 18.26

Dear Sir

Yours of the 11th is recieved. those of Nov. 2 and Dec. 14 have been so in due time. I suppose I had not acknoleged them specifically from being too lazy to recur to them while writing mine of the 3d I thank you for your information from Mr. Boyd and shall desire the instruments to remain in their present position until I can find a safe and public conveyance and give an order for them. The Russian discourse was duly reviewed and was read with the feelings [they] it would naturally create in the breast of a friend to the Rights of man. on the subject of emancipation I have ceased to think because not to be a work of my day. the plan of converting the blacks into Serfs would certainly be better than keeping them in their present condition; but I consider that of expatriation to the governments of the W. I. of their own colour as entirely practicable, and greatly preferable to the mixture of colour here. to this I have great aversion; but I repeat my abandonment of the subject. my health is at present as good as I ever expect it to be, and I am ever and affectionately your's,

Th: Jefferson