Symmetry wrote: If she couldn't freely consent, even within the narrow strictures of the time? It was certainly within his power to make her free.
Yes, but would her life truly have been better? We tend to glamourize the issue today, but while I in no way shape or form justify slavery as OK, to pretend that the standards of a non slave society are the same as they were then is just wrong. A freed person who was black had few real options. In many cases, they had more opportunities and were just plain safer, both physically and financially in slavery.
The argument is always "but they were not free..." or "but he could have freed her and still kept her". But in truth, given the mores of the time, he probably could not have done so. His having her as a slave was "permissable". Keeping her as free would not have been. Even the case of the children.. not freeing them until they were "of age" was reasonable, given the mores of the day.
There are a lot of things that were wrong back then. That is why its called "progress". However, to expect one man, even a great thinker, to have just changed all of that is to expect too much. Jefferson was an intelligent man who set forth the stage that eventually did lead to the end of slavery, but it took time .... and a big, nasty war. Personally, I am grateful that we have the country we have today. That it came to be imperfectly is a reflection of us being human.
OH... and here is another point you sidestep. To be truly fair, you would have to compare how she was treated to how a white wife would have been treated. The truth, again, is that she was treated pretty well, given the standards of the say. Again, you want to take today's standards and apply it to what happened then. That is not a reasonable thing to do.
I mean the whole "I am OK with sexual slavery" is no more "objective" than Viceroy's evolution pole... truly. The idea of "sexual slavery" as you put forward was not even considered then as it is today. The fact is that many legal wives were essentially "sexual slaves".. not entitled to any rights. In many cases children had more rights than adult women, particularly male children. As much as I would definitely not want to have been in her position back then, (would not have wanted to live back then period!), if I had to be a woman in that time, to have been her would not have been that bad of a choice.