Quotes and snippets from Jefferson have been used to suggest that he altered his views on slavery, or that these were inconsistent with each other. He can be quoted to sound like an ardent abolitionist, or to sound like the most oppressive of masters. But everything he wrote on the subject is consistent with the complex treatment he gave to slavery in his Notes [on Virginia]. He always opposed enslavement in general and further slave imports to Virginia in particular. He always supported the freeing of slaves en masse, but always and only in connection with a scheme of deportation ...
Boston merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1737—93.
Merchant, planter, slave trader, president of Continental Congress; 1724—92.
New York merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1716—78.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Financier of the Revolution”; 1734—1806.
Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (1978)