Jefferson said that white people’s “flowing hair” and “more elegant symmetry of form” made them more sexually attractive than blacks. He claimed that all blacks lusted after whites. In triumphant proof, he wrote the ill-famed phrase—that black people seek sex with white people “as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species.” Jefferson had extracted this tidbit from Buffon’s report of travelers’ accounts of apes kidnapping and raping African women. Jefferson probably summoned up the fantastical image of an ape mating with an African woman to deflect attention from the actual reality of Virginia society—the pervasive rape of black women by white men.
— Master of the mountain: Thomas Jefferson and his slaves by Henry Wiencek