Saturday, July 23, 2011

the man Thomas Jefferson on women

It is fortunate for us, that Platonic republicanism has not obtained the same favor as Platonic Christianity; or we should now have been all living men, women and children pell mell together, like beasts of the field or forest.

The [Indian] women are submitted to unjust drudgery.  This, I believe, is the case with every barbarous people.  With such, force is law.  The stronger sex, therefore, imposes on the weaker....  Were we in equal barbarism, our females would be equal drudges.

You think that the pleasures of Paris more than supply its want of domestic happiness; in other words, that a Parisian is happier than an American.  You will change your opinion and come over to mine in the end.  Recollect the women of this capital [Paris], some on foot, some on horses, and some in carriages, hunting pleasure in the streets, in routs and assemblies, and forgetting that they have left it behind them in their nurseries; compare them with our own countrywomen occupied in the tender and tranquil amusements of domestic life, and confess that it is a comparison of Americans and angels.

American women have the good sense to value domestic happiness above all other, and the art to cultivate it beyond all other.  There is no part of the earth where so much of this is enjoyed as in America.

In the country life of America, there are many moments when a woman can have recourse to nothing but her needle for employment.  In dull company, and in dull weather, for instance, it is ill-mannered to read, ill manners to leave them; no card-playing there among genteel people -- that is abandoned to black-guards.  The needle is, then, a valuable resource.  Besides, without knowing how to use it herself, how can the mistress of a family direct the work of her servants?

However nature by mental of physical disqualifications have marked infants and the weaker sex for the protection, rather than the direction of government, yet among the men who either pay or fight for their country, no line of right can be drawn.

 [quotations from The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia and from Memoirs, Correspondence, and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson]

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