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Thomas Jefferson and William Short: The Politics of African American Property Ownership as Freedom    NEW!

Thomas Jefferson had a complex relationship with his close friend, once-secretary, and career diplomat William Short. One issue over which they never found commonality was slavery. Both Jefferson and Short included slaveholding in their financial portfolios, but it was Short who made good on his philanthropic goals of divesting himself from slavery. And over Short's lifetime, his ideas about slavery evolved. Perhaps his evolved perspective on slavery and people of African descent, one that differed from Jefferson's, influenced Short's decision to make limited visits to Monticello after the 1810's. In particular, Jefferson and Short held different views on the correct path toward slave emancipation, with Short supporting the emancipation of slaves and providing them with land while Jefferson advocated for a more gradual process of emancipation. The perspectives of Thomas Jefferson and William Short illuminate the complicated political history of gradual emancipation and the early republican idea of property ownership as freedom in America.