In Juan Francisco Manzano’s The Autobiography of a Slave he not only related the tales of slave, but presented many powerful ideas about the world and times he lived in. There are two very important ideas that stuck out to me when reading this autobiography. One was the fact that the women of this time were very powerful. The other was the extreme issues of race. The power of these women went beyond the mere fact that they were slave owners. They exerted power over not only their slaves, but the men in their lives as well. Some of his mistresses would lock him up at their whim for countless hours without food. Others would order their other men slaves to lock him up in the stocks for the night after the slightest offenses. Even when the husbands of the mistresses attempted to give him food, the mistress would exert her dominance over the husband and not allow these things to happen. As far as race issues were concerned, in this time they were of the utmost importance. Every description was laced with the words “mulato”, “black,” or “creole.” One’s race determined their status. Even amongst the slaves racism existed. The slave’s mother would, “…take care that I did not mix with the other black children.” This is a prime example of how severe the race issues were at this time. Juan Francisco Manzano effectively told a story of a slave in Cuba, while also incorporating important social issues of the time.

After reading Simon Bolivar’s The Jamaica Letter: Response from a South American to a Gentleman from This Island, I realized that many men of the time had very similar aspirations for their respective areas of the New World. However, I think this article would have been clearer had we read the actual letter which evoked this response. The way in which Bolivar wrote was very comparable to the writings of Viscardo and Jefferson. I have noticed that all three men write with such passion and set that tone right from the start of their writings. Often this passionate tone comes off in more of a speech like manner, but is still effective at any rate. They all talk about their areas as collective using “we” or “our”. Bolivar also tried to pull on the heart strings by making Spain seem evil by using words like “wicked stepmother” (13) when talking about it. All three writers also try to be good writers by following the model of being modest. Bolivar says right in the first paragraph how he has “limited knowledge” (12). Another recurring theme is independence at any rate. Bolivar says, “Just because our successes have been partial and intermittent is no reason to doubt our fortune” (14). Also to be good writers and display their intelligence, Bolivar, just like Viscardo and Jefferson, uses Greek and Roman references to support his points. So although all three of these men have their own writing styles, they all definitely have many of the same ideas and goal when writing an article.

From reading Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, I learned so much more about him than the typical facts you learn about him as a president in high school. I learned that he was not only a smart man, but a man full of contradictions. In fact in the biography about him in the anthology it said how, “Thomas Jefferson seems to embody the contradictions upon which the United States was founded” (523). This statement was evident when reading his Notes on the State of Virginia. One of his biggest contradictions was his feelings on slavery. Jefferson was a known advocate for the emancipation of slaves, and the abolishment of slavery in general. However, Jefferson himself owned a fair amount of slaves who did all the work in the operation of his plantation. Jefferson even had at least one illegitimate child with one of his slaves. This topic of slavery becomes a recurring thought throughout this text. Jefferson later tells how he wants the slaves to be emancipated and sent somewhere to become civilized so they can be part of society. However, he says how this was easier in Greek and Roman societies because the slaves were white, and therefore easier to integrate into society. He uses many Greek and Roman references to support his thoughts on slavery and show his intelligence. I believe that even if Jefferson had a choice about owning slaves or not he still would have owned them. I think his anti-slavery feelings were just to appeal politically.

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