Alexander Hamilton

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas; H 24 in. x W 20 in.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas. New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. Jointly shared by The Metropolitan Museum, New York, NY and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas; 76.2 x 60.5 cm (30 x 23 13/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas; 30 3/4 x 24 3/4 in. (78.1 x 62.9 cm.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas; 30 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (77.5 x 64.8 cm). New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. City Hall Portrait Collection, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. 77.79 x 62.55 cm • 30 5/8 x 24 5/8 in. National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.

by Giuseppe Ceracchi (1751—1801)

White marble; 9 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 13 in., 87 lb. (23.5 x 49.5 x 33 cm, 39.5 kg). New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

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.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)