Neoteny wrote:I know I said I was going to reply to Stahrgazer, but I've been gone for a while, and she doesn't seem to want to consider how Sally could have been coerced even unintentionally by Jefferson.
For example, if Hemings wanted to stay in France, she would have been abandoning all her family in the US, and facing a whole new world alone. Same for if she went to a free state. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.
If Jefferson had no interest in mistreating his slaves, or even treating them as slaves, it was still within his legal right to do so. As no slave can ever know the mind of Jefferson, they can never be sure if resisting his will brings no ill effects. This is the inherent coercion of slavery.
And that's just some issues with this particular case. Because of this inherent coercion, even if I don't know the mind of Hemings, and I don't know the mind of Jefferson, the activity of Jefferson takes advantage of this coercion whether he intended it to or not. I'm literally telling you how to convince me that it wasn't rape. "Jefferson was nice to his slaves" is not it. "Hemings may have loved Jefferson" is not it. "We don't know what they were thinking" is not it. If you can convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive, then you will convince me that it was not rape. The age thing still gives me the heebeejeebees, but I'm willing to let it slide based on a difference in factors that contribute to maturity.
So, again, if anyone wants to convince me that Jefferson did not rape Hemings, you need to convince me that slavery is not inherently coercive. Maybe this is irrational. If you can convince me of this, I might concede then too.
You're wrong, I did consider it, but since you won't read what I wrote about it, I'll state it again.
Your premise that "any" coercion = rape is just wrong.
The coercion "of her slavery" may not have been any worse than the coercion from any powerful source, such as a richer man "coercing" a poor female, not just then, but today.
Monica Lewinsky was "coerced" by the power of the Presidency. Coerced, yes; but not "raped."
Further, at the time Sally made her choice, she was in France, and in France, she was free, not slave.
Any child she bore in France would be free, not slave. She knew people there, was educated, had good skills as a ladies' companion, and had a little money, wages she was paid while there.
If she was coerced, it was in several ways:
Coercion of being free
Coercion of her family being slave
Coercion of the maternal: ensuring her child (unborn, but evident) remained safe
Coercion of a powerful brother-in-law (she was his prior wife's half sister, that made them related by marriage)
Presumed Coercion of feelings (love) toward a reasonably decent man
It was within Jefferson's legal right to mistreat Sally's family that were still at Monticello, yes. If Sally believed that of him, she would not have willingly brought her yet-unborn child back from France - where she, and the child, would be free - to face possible mistreatment. She made a bargain with him: I'll return as long as you free my children when they come of age. If Sally had thought Jefferson would change his mind in a heartbeat because he could, she would not have made that choice. Her maternal instincts would have prohibited that. It wouldn't be a choice of, "protect my mother or protect my child," because if mother was in danger, then she would be bringing her child back to danger, and UNLESS she was the unthinking animal that some ignorant slavetraders claimed, she would never have risked her child if she could avoid it.
Sally was FREE when Jefferson and she had their relationship. Free when she realized she was with child. Her child would be FREE if she remained in France. She agreed to return to Monticello as long as their children would be freed when it was old enough to matter.
There was no trade of her life for the life of a relative. There was simply the assurance she wished that her love
-choice would not be detrimental to her child. It's what any caring, intelligent mother would do.
And, again, if she feared Jefferson would change his mind because he could, she'd never have made that bargain because she'd know she couldn't trust him to keep his word and free her children.
For those who're asking if slavery is inherently coercive. Yes, of course it is. That still doesn't make slavery the most powerful coercive force. Love is more coercive than slavery or its equally-powerful antithesis: fear of being enslaved.
For you who seem to think that, once "enslaved" a slave is motivated ONLY by the power of the fear-of-master, you are contemptible. In believing that the coercion of slavery MUST be the most powerful force in their lives, you are guilty of dehumanizing everyone in the world who ever found themselves enslaved. You are making them the animals that slavetraders claimed they were.
I, on the other hand, looked at the situation of a woman back then and identified what a woman in love would do. I also looked at what a good mother would do. A woman in love would go with her chosen man, while a good mother would first-and-foremost protect her child(ren). By choosing a life with Jefferson, Sally trusted she was doing both. She wouldn't have trusted that if he'd raped her, and she wouldn't have trusted that if she feared he'd pull "I'm the massah" on her or her kids. The coercion of slavery, that fear-factor you guys insist on ascribing to her, wasn't there between Jefferson and Sally.