Ecurb wrote: ↑December 10th, 2021, 12:32 pm
Which speaks more clearly about Thomas Jefferson's ideals -- his political speeches, or his actions?
Oh, my. Another witless hitchhiker riding the "cancel culture" bandwagon.
I assume you're alluding to the fact that Jefferson owned slaves. Yes he did; they were bequeathed to him as part of the estate he inherited from his father. Yet he opposed slavery his entire life, in public speeches, written private correspondence, and published papers:
"The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: That his justice cannot sleep for ever."
---Notes on the State of Virginia
"I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation."
"In the very first session held under the republican government, the assembly passed a law for the perpetual prohibition of the importation of slaves. This will in some measure stop the increase of this great political and moral evil, while the minds of our citizens may be ripening for a complete emancipation of the human nature."
"The General assembly shall not have power ... to permit the introduction of any more slaves to reside in this state, or the continuance of slavery beyond the generation which shall be living on the 31st. day of December 1800; all persons born after that day being hereby declared free."
---Draft Constitution for the State of Virginia
"That after the year 1800 of the christian æra, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted to have been personally guilty."
---Committee Report to the Confederation Congress for the Government of Western Territory
(That language was incorporated, almost verbatim, in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.)
"What a stupendous, what an incomprehensible machine is man! who can endure toil, famine, stripes, imprisonment or death itself in vindication of his own liberty, and the next moment be deaf to all those motives whose power supported him thro’ his trial, and inflict on his fellow men a bondage, one hour of which is fraught with more misery than ages of that which he rose in rebellion to oppose."
---Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Jean Nicolas Démeunier
"You know that nobody wishes more ardently to see an abolition not only of the trade but of the condition of slavery: and certainly nobody will be more willing to encounter every sacrifice for that object."
---Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Brissot de Warville
"I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your state for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it for ever. this abomination must have an end, and there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it."
---Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Edward Rutledge
"I congratulate you, fellow citizens, on the approach of the period at which you may interpose your authority constitutionally, to withdraw the citizens of the United states from all further participation in those violations of human rights, which have been so long continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa, & which the morality, the reputation, & the best interests of our country have long been eager to proscribe."
---Sixth Annual Message to Congress
So why did Jefferson not free his slaves?
"In 1779, as a practical solution, Jefferson supported gradual emancipation, training, and colonization of African-American slaves rather than immediate manumission, believing that releasing unprepared persons with no place to go and no means to support themselves would only bring them misfortune."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Je ... nd_slavery
Not to mention, of course, the animus they would have encountered in the Southern states at the time.
As for which was more important, his speeches or actions, the answer is unquestionably his speeches and writings. They inspired every abolitionist and champion of equal rights from Frederick Douglas to Susan B. Anthony to Martin Luther King.
Jefferson clearly believed in neither economic equality, nor equality of opportunity, nor the "liberty" or "pursuit of happiness" mentioned in the Declaration.
Oh, I agree that he did not "believe in" economic equality, or equality of opportunity, since those are both preposterous notions impossible to implement, and are in conflict with liberty, in which he certainly did believe.