Many who have dismissed the anti-slavery words of the founders of the American republic as just rhetoric have not bothered to check the facts of history. Washington, Jefferson, and other founders did not just talk. They acted.
Even when they acted within the political and legal constraints of their times, they acted repeatedly, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. One of the early battles that was lost was Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration of Independence, which criticized King George III for having enslaved Africans and for over-riding colonial Virginia’s attempt to ban slavery.The Continental Congress removed that phrase under pressure from representatives from the South. When Jefferson drafted a state constitution for Virginia in 1776, his draft included a clause prohibiting any more importation of slaves and, in 1783, Jefferson included in a new draft of a Virginia constitution a proposal for gradual emancipation of slaves. He was defeated in both these efforts. On the national scene, Jefferson returned to the battle once again in 1784, proposing a law declaring slavery illegal in all western territories of the country as it existed at that time. Such a ban would have kept slavery out of Alabama and Mississippi.The bill lost by one vote, that of a legislator too sick to come and vote. Afterwards, Jefferson said that the fate “of millions unborn” was “hanging on the tongue of one man, and heaven was silent in that awful moment. (114)
With permission from Encounter books I am reading through Thomas Sowell's essay, "The Real History of Slavery" as printed in Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Each "Fact or Fiction" podcast segment is approximately 10 minutes. The whole series will probably end up being approximately 17 episodes long.
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