Jefferson was in most respects a typical slaveholder. Although he always condemned slavery, he did own one of the largest slave populations in Virginia. Upon the division of his father-in-law’s estate in 1774 he became, in fact, the second-largest slaveholder in Albemarle County. Thereafter the number of his slaves remained around two hundred — with increases through births offset by periodic sales to pay off debts. Jefferson was known to be a good master, reluctant to break up families or to sell slaves except for delinquency or at their own request. Nevertheless, between 1784 and 1794 he disposed of 161 people by sale or gift. It is true that Jefferson was averse to separating young children from their parents; but once slave boys or girls reached the age of ten or twelve and their working lives began, they were no longer children in Jefferson’s mind.
Continental Army officer, lawyer, politician, Vice President under Thomas Jefferson; killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel; 1756—1836.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland, senator; 1737—1832.
American painter, principally active in London after 1774; 1738—1815.
Philadelphia printer, writer, scientist, inventor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat to France; 1706—90.
Continental Army general, won the Battles of Saratoga; 1727—1806.
Continental Army general; key to winning the war in the South; 1742—86.
Financier, Continental congressman, U.S. senator; 1741/42—1804.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Lawyer, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, diplomat, third President, founder of the University of Virginia; 1743—1826.
Merchant, planter, slave trader, president of Continental Congress; 1724—92.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)