Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Henri Grégoire, 25 February 1809

Washington Feb. 25. 09.


I have received the favor of your letter of Aug: 17. and with it the Volume you were so kind as to send me on the literature of negroes. be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained and expressed on the grade of understanding allotted to them by nature, and to find that in this respect they are on a par with ourselves. my doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own State, where the opportunities for the developement of their genius were not favorable, and those of exercising it still less so. I expressed them therefore with great hesitation. but whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their rights. because Sr. I. Newton was superior to others in understanding he was not therefore Lord of the person or property of others. on this subject they are gaining daily in the Opinions of nations, & hopeful advances are making towards their reestablishment on an equal footing with the other colours of the human family. I pray you therefore to Accept my thanks for the many instances you have enabled me to observe of respectable intelligence in that race of men, which cannot fail to have effect in hastening the day of their relief, & to be assured of the Sentiments of high & just esteem & consideration which I tender to your self with all sincerity

Th: Jefferson

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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