Futurist: What did Jefferson say and/or write about blacks' capabilities later on? I just want to see the quotations and/or text with my own eyes.
In researching this question to find the passages that I remember reading, I realized that I may have overstated the case. I think that where I formed my perception of Jefferson's attitude was in his comments regarding a black man named Benjamin Baddecker.
Jefferson's letter to the Marquis de Condorcet presented Banneker's attainments as evidence of the mental capacity of Negroes. He said:
We have now in the United States a Negro, the son of a black man born in Africa and a black woman born in the United States, who is a very respectable mathematician. I procured him to be employed under one of our chief directors in laying out the new Federal City on the Potomac and in the intervals of his leisure, while on that work, he made an almanac for the next year, which he sent me in his own handwriting, and which I enclose to you. I have seen very elegant solutions of geometrical problems by him. Add to this that he is a very worthy and respectable member of society. He is a free man. I shall be delighted to see these instances of moral eminence so multiplied as to prove that the want of talents observed in them, is merely the effect of their degraded condition, and not proceeding from any difference in the structure of the parts on which intellect depends.
Source: https://www.jstor.or...pdf/2713794.pdf (see page 69).
While this passage is clearly along the lines that I suggested, the picture is considerably more muddied than I realized. Other passages can be found, both before and after his letter to the Marquis de Condorcet, where Jefferson is less definite in his opinion.
Still, Jefferson was, at times at least, working toward a more liberal attitude in which he occasionally showed an understanding of his own limitations in rendering a conclusive judgement on the subject:
To Henri Gre6goire who had sent Jefferson a copy of his Litterature des Negres, he wrote:
Be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained and expressed on the grade of understanding allotted to the negroes by nature, and to find that in this respect they are on a par with ourselves. My doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own State, where the opportunities for the development of their genius were not favorable, and those of exercising it still less so. I expressed them, therefore, with great hesitation; but whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their right
Source: https://www.jstor.or...pdf/2713794.pdf (see page 70).