The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson
SLAVERY / JEFFERSON'S PLAN TO CONVERT TO FREE TENANT FARMERS
Notwithstanding the discouraging result of these experiments I am
decided on my final return to America to try this one. I shall
endeavor to import as many Germans as I have grown slaves. I will
settle them and my slaves on farms of fifty acres each, intermingled,
and place all on the footing of the metayers (medietani) of Europe.
Their children shall be brought up as others are in habits of property
and foresight, and I have no doubt but that they will be good
citizens. Some of their fathers will be so, others I suppose will need
government; with these all that can be done is to oblige them to labor
as the laboring poor of Europe do, and to apply to their comfortable
subsistence the produce of their labor, retaining such a moderate
portion of it as may be a just equivalent for the use of the lands
they labor and the stocks and other necessary advances.
to Edward Bancroft, 26 January 1788