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Full-Text Articles in Intellectual History
Secular Damnation: Thomas Jefferson And The Imperative Of Race, Robert Forbes
Robert P Forbes
Race, we are told, is a “social construction.” If this is so, Thomas Jefferson was its principal architect. Jefferson consciously framed his only published book, Notes on the State of Virginia, to check the rising status of Africans and to combat growing critiques of slavery from America’s European friends. Jefferson did this by importing the slaveholder’s sense of slaves as chattel into an Enlightenment world view, providing a metaphysical foundation for prejudice by transmuting the traditional Christian concept of the saved vs. the damned into material and aesthetic terms. Recasting in quasi-scientific language the ancient doctrine of the ...