Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Joel Yancey
|Monticello Jan. 17. 19. Sunday|
the mortality among our negroes is still more serious as involving moral as well as interested considerations. I have had n they are well fed, and well clothed, & I have had no reason to believe that any overseer, since Griffin’s time, has over worked them. accordingly the deaths among the grown ones seem ascribable to natural causes. but the loss of 5. little ones in a year induces me to fear that the overseers do not permit the women to devote as much time as is necessary to the care of their children: that they view their labor as the 1st object and their the raising their child but as secondary. I consider the labor of a breeding woman as no object, and that a child raised every 2. years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring [. . .] man. in this, as in all other cases, providence has made our interests & our duties coincide perfectly. women too are destroyed by exposure to wet at certain periodical indispositions to which nature has subjected them. with respect therefore to our women & their children I must pray you to inculcate upon the overseers that it is not their labor, but their increase which is the first consideration with us.