In Thomas Jefferson’s time, the standing issue was slavery. Although Jefferson was a slave owner, he was determined to find a way, not necessarily to free all slaves, but to find a way to justify them. “Jefferson’s ‘primary goal was not to free black people,’ observe Helo and Onuf, ‘but to free white people from the moral evil of being slaveholders.’” He was determined to spend his life fighting for these rights, trying to lessen the blame, because Jefferson knew, one day the slaves would be free.
During Jefferson’s life, he spent much of it attempting to solve the slave issue. He knew the slaves would never be free in his lifetime, but that did not stop him from trying to make a difference in justifying it. Jefferson’s major case, was that he wanted to emancipate the slaves, give them freedom to leave, but still be able to do “slave labor” to make money to support families. In his first draft of the declaration of independence this was put in, but was later taken out and was not included in the final draft.
As a young Virginia legislator, he unsuccessfully tried passing a law allowing private citizens to free their slaves. He knew that this was a good first step in trying to free the slaves. He was not president at this time, so he did not have quite as much power as he needed to pass this, but with his attempt, it put the thought in the back of people’s minds, giving hope to slaves, and generally looking good in the public’s eyes. This was a great first attempt in justifying slavery.
In 1778, the legislature passed a bill he proposed to ban further importation of slaves into Virginia; although this did not bring complete emancipation, in his words, it "stopped the increase of the evil by importation, leaving to future efforts its final eradication." In 1784, Jefferson's draft of the Northwest Ordinance said that "there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" in any of the new states admitted to the Union from the Northwest...