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- Jun 2020
Thomas Jefferson disagreed. At t he beginning of t he Declaration of Independence, he paraphrased the Virginia constitution, i ndelibly penning: “ all Men are created equal.”It is impossible to know for s ure whether J efferson meant t o include his enslaved laborers ( or women) in his “all Men.” Was he merely emphasizing the equality of White Americans and the English? Later i n the document, he did scold the British for “ exciting those very people to rise in arms among us”—those “people” being resisting Afri-cans. Did Jefferson insert “created equal” a s a nod to the swirling debate between monogenesis and polygenesis? Even if J efferson believed all groups to be “created equal,” he never believed the antiracist creed that all human groups are e qual. But his “ all Men are created equal” was revolutionary n onetheless; i t even propelled Vermont and Mas-sachusetts to abolish slavery.