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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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5820. NEGROES, Natural History and.—
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5820. NEGROES, Natural History and.—

The opinion that they are inferior in the
faculties of reason and imagination, must be
hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a
general conclusion, requires many observations,
even where the subject may be submitted to
the anatomical knife, to optical glasses, to
analysis by fire or by solvents. How much
more then where it is a faculty, not a substance,
we are examining; where it eludes the research
of all the senses; where the conditions of its
existence are various and variously combined;
where the effects of those which are present
or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me
add, too, as a circumstance of great tenderness,
where our conclusion would degrade a whole
race of men from the rank in the scale of beings
which their Creator may perhaps have given
them. To our reproach it must be said, that
though for a century and a half we have had
under our eyes the races of black and of red
men, they have never yet been viewed by us as
subjects of natural history. I advance it, therefore,
as a suspicion only, that the blacks,
whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct
by time and circumstances, are inferior to
the whites in the endowments both of body and
mind. It is not against experience to suppose
that different species of the same genus, or
varieties of the same species, may possess different
qualifications. Will not a lover of natural
history, then, one who views the gradations
in all the races of animals with the eye of
philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in
the department of man as distinct as nature
has formed them?—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 386. Ford ed., iii, 249.