Extract from Thomas Jefferson to St. George Tucker

as to the mode of emancipation, I am satisfied that that must be a matter of compromise between the passions the prejudices, & the real difficulties which will each have their weight in that operation. perhaps the first chapter of this history, which has begun in St Domingo, & the next succeeding ones which will recount how all the whites were driven from all the other islands, may prepare our minds for a peaceable accomodation between justice, policy & necessity, & facilitate our furnish an answer to the difficult question Whither shall the coloured emigrants go? and the sooner we put some plan into under way, the greater hope there is that it may be permitted to proceed peaceably to it’s ultimate effect. but if something is not done, & soon done, we shall be the murderers of our own children. the ‘Murmura, venturos nautis prodentia ventos’ has already reached us; the revolutionary storm now sweeping the globe will be upon us, and happy if we make timely provision to give it an easy passage over our land. from the present state of things in Europe & America the day which begins our combustion must be near at hand, and only a single spark is wanting to make that day tomorrow. if we had begun sooner, we might probably have been allowed a lengthier operation to clear ourselves, but every day’s delay lessens the time we may take for emancipation. some people derive hope from the aid of the confederated states. but this is a delusion. there is but one state in the Union which will aid us sincerely if an insurrection begins; and that one may perhaps have it’s own fire to quench at the same time.

PrC (DLC). Published in PTJ, 29:519.

Murmura, venturos nautis prodentia ventos: “the breezes warning the sailors of the coming gale,” Virgil, Aeneid, 10:99.

Date Range
August 28, 1797
Quote Category