Stamped

by

Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

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Thomas Jefferson was an influential Virginia slaveholder, politician, and philosopher. He’s best remembered as the main author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, from 1801–1809. In Stamped, he’s also the second of the reader’s five main guides through the history of racist ideas. His relationship to racism and slavery was extremely complicated. He grew up on a plantation, surrounded by enslaved people, and he went on to own and trade enslaved people throughout his adult life. But he also famously wrote that “all men are created equal” and believed that slavery was cruel and immoral. He even publicly apologized for slavery after his presidency. But then he went home to live on his plantation, where he never freed the people he enslaved, because his finances depended on their labor. This shows how racism is primarily a method for powerful people to gain more power and make profit. Jefferson’s complicated mix of segregationism and assimilationism also shows that it was possible to oppose slavery while still being a racist.

Thomas Jefferson Quotes in Stamped

The Stamped quotes below are all either spoken by Thomas Jefferson or refer to Thomas Jefferson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers edition of Stamped published in 2020.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Say it with me: All men are created equal.

But were slaves seen as “men”? And what about women? And what did it mean that Jefferson, a man who owned nearly two hundred slaves, was writing America’s freedom document? Was he talking about an all-encompassing freedom or just America being free from England?

Related Characters: Jason Reynolds (speaker), Thomas Jefferson
Page Number: 56-57
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Stamped LitChart as a printable PDF.
Stamped PDF

Thomas Jefferson Character Timeline in Stamped

The timeline below shows where the character Thomas Jefferson appears in Stamped. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: Proof in the Poetry
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
History and the Present Theme Icon
Power, Profit, and Privilege Theme Icon
How Racist Ideas Spread Theme Icon
...Franklin started a club called the American Philosophical Society and hosted famous racists like Thomas Jefferson, whom Reynolds thinks may have been “the world’s first White person to say, ‘I have... (full context)
Chapter 8: Jefferson’s Notes
History and the Present Theme Icon
...abolished slavery, the Thirteen Colonies still wouldn’t. Soon, they declared war on the British. Thomas Jefferson famously started the Declaration of Independence with the words, “All men are created equal.” But... (full context)
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
Power, Profit, and Privilege Theme Icon
Jefferson was full of contradictions. For instance, he was a slaveowner, and he hated the British... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Great Contradictor
Power, Profit, and Privilege Theme Icon
Even though Thomas Jefferson still owned slaves, he liked the idea of colonization. When he became president, he kept... (full context)
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
Power, Profit, and Privilege Theme Icon
Jefferson never stopped pushing for colonization. When sending Black people to Africa started looking unlikely, he... (full context)
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
Power, Profit, and Privilege Theme Icon
Jefferson hoped that Black Americans would civilize Africa by colonizing it, while the U.S. could become... (full context)
Chapter 13: Complicated Abe
Racism vs. Antiracism Theme Icon
History and the Present Theme Icon
...Abraham Lincoln as an antiracist “Great Emancipator,” but the truth is much more complicated. Like Jefferson, he was “antislavery and not antiracist.” After losing a Senate race to a pro-slavery politician... (full context)