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Notes for February 15 and 19

by: Callisa Ruschmeyer

Notes for February 15 and 19 ENGL 2250 - 001

Marketplace > Auburn University > Foreign Language > ENGL 2250 - 001 > Notes for February 15 and 19
Callisa Ruschmeyer
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About this Document

The Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson's State of Virginia (Query XIV) Wheatley's Poem Benjamin Banneker's Letter to Thomas Jefferson
American Literature before 1865
Julia Tigner
Class Notes
American Literature; Thomas Jefferson; Phillis Wheatley; Benjamin Banneker; The Declaration of Independence; State of Virginia (Query XIV)
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Callisa Ruschmeyer on Saturday February 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ENGL 2250 - 001 at Auburn University taught by Julia Tigner in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 32 views. For similar materials see American Literature before 1865 in Foreign Language at Auburn University.


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Date Created: 02/20/16
th th February 15 and 19 Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence The Declaration of Independence and Omitted Passage 1. Purpose does the Declaration serve? o Formally declare separation of the colonies from the English Crown o Rationalize and explain reasons why they want to separate (litany of grievances)  Justification on why they want their own nation 2. Who does Jefferson criticize? What does he fear in this passage (the passage on the back of the discussion questions? o Jefferson criticizes the Christian King for having slaves because it is not the Christian thing to do o He claims what they are partaking in is the British slave trade- not the colonies o He fears that the slaves are going to rise up against their master  Slaves fought for the British to fight against the American  They were promised freedom o Jefferson says the British have animosity; Jefferson suggests that the King is preventing the slaves freedom  Colonies try and pass laws to better the lives of slaves, but the King continues to deny them o Jefferson does not want America to be responsible for the slave trade- they will continue it, but they blame the king for its establishment 3. Paradox of Jefferson? o Critiques the King o Paradox- Jefferson has slaves- but it is justified because they are of a different color  The colonies cannot be enslaved by the Crown because they are of the same color Excerpt on Notes on the State of Virginia {Query XIV} 4. What query is Jefferson grappling with? o What do we do with the slaves? / Should they be incorporated into the state (with restrictions)  They need schooling o Should they be deported back to Africa? Expelled? 5. Why does he decide against incorporation of slaves? o Divide everyone o Makes scientific arguments  Do not have the capacity to learn  Skin color- whites are more attractive  Black people are hard to read- inscrutable  Music differences o "Deep-rooted" prejudice 6. Going out of his way to Insult Phyllis Wheatley? o Jefferson does not spell her name correctly  She is not important enough to spell her name correctly o Jefferson says that she does not have the mental capacity like whites do  Uses her to prove this point- she is justification about blacks lacking capacity o Wheatley is capable of understanding religion and being converted to Christianity BUT she is not capable of being a poet o The best black poet is not even worthy of criticism- she is an icon 7. Reconcile with "All men are created equal" and idea of White Supremacy? Wheatley's Poetry Wheatley, "On Being Brought from Africa to America" (page 455-456)  Written in 1773 --> America has not been established as a nation yet  Poem in first person  The Preface will always provide evidence on who actually wrote the work  John Wheatley's attest to Phillis's authorship o Brought to America without assistance o Has an education o Demonstrating that she is intelligent- she is a quick learner o All who witnessed these things signed a piece of paper authenticating her legitimacy  How does she undermine Jefferson? o Challenges him in a witty, intelligent manner o He challenges arguments on race- but she challenges that blacks can reason and produce poetry well Bradstreet Wheatley  Female poet  Female black poet  Her brother established her  John Wheatley established her legitimacy legitimacy  Poems more private  Poems not as private  "On Being Brought from Africa to America" Line by Line o 1-2: introduces blacks to Christianity; between the lines- her critique on slavery and how her people are being treated  Key words: Mercy, god and savior; benighted; Pagan; Savior; God  Mercy- grace, kindness, Wheatley uses it in two different ways- she is very clever  Benighted- black soul; has not been introduced to Christianity at that point; refers to her lack of religion o 3-5: talking to Christians about not seeking her new religion so she somewhat questions it and why her masters follow it  Redemption; sable race; scornful eye  Redemption- Christianity being a religion of saving and washing one of their sins; main purpose of the religion  Sable- dark brown  Scornful eye- look down upon as inferior; accuses the whites of looking at blacks like this  Die- not being dead, but a play on words instead of using "dye"  Die has a negative connotation  Was this on purpose? Or her learning a new language? Or the word "dye" was not in existence yet o 7-8: Cain and refrained is a play on words- adding a sardonic ending to the poem; suggests that blacks can become Christians; she sort of directs these lines to Christians as a way to remind them that part of their faith is to convert and bring new believers to the faith  Eventually, blacks could be equal, but in respect to faith (not laws or government)  Last lines have a sarcastic undertone  Key words: Christina, Negro; Cain; refin'd  Story of Cain in the Bible- first murder in the bible and has been marked sin by black skin Benjamin Banneker's Letter to Jefferson Benjamin Banneker's and Thomas Jefferson's Letters  Almost asks permission to disagree with Jefferson  States arguments in a respectful way  Page 439 (6th paragraph)- injustices of who is allowed to be free- why are you allowed to be free, but not your African American servants  How does Banneker accomplish making his points? o He quotes Jefferson- using his words against him  Jefferson's Response o Shallow on the surface- much shorter letter o But then sent the Almanac that was given to him to an esteemed scientist- Jefferson considered it proper justification  Suggests that there is possible intelligence present o He may imply that Banneker is intelligent, free, and self-taught- but he is very different than the others who are enslaved


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