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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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7950. SLAVERY, Roman.—
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7950. SLAVERY, Roman.—

We know
that among the Romans, about the Augustan
age especially, the condition of their slaves was
much more deplorable than that of the blacks
on the continent of America. The two sexes
were confined in separate apartments, because
to raise a child cost the master more than to
buy one. Cato, for a very restricted indulgence
to his slaves in this particular, took from them
a certain price. But in this country the slaves
multiply as fast as the free inhabitants. * * * The same Cato, on a principle of economy, always
sold his sick and superannuated slaves.
He gives it as a standing precept to a master
visiting his farm, to sell his old oxen, old
wagons, old tools, old and diseased servants,
and everything else become useless. * * * The American slaves cannot enumerate this
among the injuries and insults they receive.
It was the common practice to expose in the
island Æsculapius, in the Tiber, diseased slaves
whose cure was likely to become tedious. The
Emperor Claudius, by an edict, gave freedom to
such of them as should recover, and first declared
that if any person chose to kill rather
than to expose them, it should be deemed homicide.
The exposing them is a crime of which
no instance has existed with us; and were it to
be followed by death, it would be punished cap


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itally. We are told of a certain Vedius Pollio,
who, in the presence of Augustus, would have
given a slave as food to his fish for having
broken a glass. With the Romans, the regular
method of taking the evidence of their slaves
was under torture. Here it has been thought
better never to resort to their evidence. When
a master was murdered, all his slaves, in the
same house, or within hearing, were condemned
to death. Here punishment falls on the guilty
only, and as precise proof is required against
him as against a freeman. Yet notwithstanding
these and other discouraging circumstances
among the Romans, their slaves were often
their rarest artists. They excelled, too, in science,
insomuch as to be usually employed as
tutors to their master's children. Epictetus,
Terence, and Phœdrus, were slaves. But they
were of the race of whites. It is not their
condition then, but nature which has produced
the distinction. Whether further observation
will or will not verify the conjecture, that nature
has been less bountiful to them in the endowments
of the head, I believe that in those
of the heart she will be found to have done
them justice.—
Notes on Virginia. Washington ed. viii, 384. Ford ed., iii, 247.

See Negroes.