Monday, February 20, 2012
Celebrating Black History Month & President's Day
Thomas Jefferson helped to create a new nation based on individual freedom and self-government. His words in the Declaration of Independence expressed the aspirations of the new nation. But the Declaration did not extend “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” to African Americans, indentured servants, or women. Twelve of the first eighteen American presidents owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration and called slavery an “abominable crime,” yet he was a lifelong slaveholder. Fearful of dividing the fragile new nation, Jefferson and other founders who opposed slavery did not insist on abolishing it. It took 87 more years―and the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 13th Amendment―to end slavery. Click here to visit a National Museum of African American History and Culture exhibit exploring how these two world's intertwined with one another for Jefferson and helped to shape a nation.