July 4th and slavery, Founding fathers catalyst for change, All men are created equal paradigm shift, Most blacks enslaved by Africans
“I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your state [South Carolina] for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it for ever. This abomination must have an end, and there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it.”…Thomas Jefferson
“I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.”…George Washington
“Negro Slavery is an evil of colossal magnitude.”...John Adams
The Declaration of Independence and the founding of the US was a paradigm shift for humanity.
For all of the existence of mankind, the accepted belief was that if you were conquered, you were subject to murder, rape, pillaging, torture and enslavement.
That was the norm over the entire planet and involving all ethnicities and skin colors.
That includes whites.
Perhaps the most famous white slave was Saint Patrick.
For founders of America to think otherwise took a lot of reflection, soul searching and faith.
Three of the more prominent founding fathers come to mind: Washington, Jefferson and John Adams.
From the Thomas Jefferson original draft of the Declaration of Independence.
“he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”
George Washington’s metamorphosis.
“And as a leader of soldiers, Washington was acutely aware of the importance of black soldiers even as he waffled over the question of their eventual freedom. ”George Washington won the Revolutionary War with an army that was more integrated than any military force until the Vietnam War,” Mr. Wiencek maintains. His book offers evidence that the role of black soldiers under Washington’s command was under-reported simply because it was taken for granted.”
“George Washington’s encounter with black poet Philiss Wheatley.
“In December of 1775, Washington – the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army – received a letter from Wheatley containing an ode written in his honor. The poem illustrates Wheatley’s somewhat surprisingly passionate patriotic sentiment, which factors strongly in much of her poetry. It ends with a stanza reading: “Proceed, great chief, with virtue on thy side, / Thy ev’ry action let the goddess guide. / A crown, a mansion, and a throne that shine, / With gold unfading, WASHINGTON! Be thine.”
Washington responded with a letter expressing his appreciation for Wheatley’s poem. He even considered publishing it but feared people might interpret that action as self-aggrandizing. Not only was this letter the only one Washington is known to have written to a former slave, but he addressed Wheatley as “Miss Phillis” and signed off as “Your obed[ien]t humble servant,”1 unusual and even paradoxical courtesies. Washington also extended an invitation for Wheatley to call on him at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.””
From George Washington’s Last Will and Testament.
“Upon the decease ⟨of⟩ my wife, it is my Will & desire th⟨at⟩ all the Slaves which I hold in ⟨my⟩ own right, shall receive their free⟨dom⟩.”
“And I do moreover most pointedly, and most solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors hereafter named, or the Survivors of them, to see that th⟨is cla⟩use respecting Slaves, and every part thereof be religiously fulfilled at the Epoch at which it is directed to take place; without evasion, neglect or delay, after the Crops which may then be on the ground are harvested, particularly as it respects the aged and infirm; seeing that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to the ⟨u⟩ncertain provision to be made by individuals. And to my Mulatto man William (calling himself William Lee) I give immediate freedom; or if he should prefer it (on account of the accidents which ha⟨v⟩e befallen him, and which have rendered him incapable of walking or of any active employment) to remain in the situation he now is, it shall be optional in him to do so: In either case however, I allow him an annuity of thirty dollars during his natural life, whic⟨h⟩ shall be independent of the victuals and cloaths he has been accustomed to receive, if he chuses the last alternative; but in full, with his freedom, if he prefers the first; & this I give him as a test⟨im⟩ony of my sense of his attachment to me, and for his faithful services during the Revolutionary War.”
John Adams, who owned no slaves.
“1776: John Adams discussed trade resolutions before the continental congress: “There is one Resolution I will not omit. Resolved that no Slaves be imported into any of the thirteen colonies.” (Peabody,p 197)
1776: John Adams was delighted with Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration of Independence and its “flights of oratory… especially that concerning Negro slavery, which, though I knew his Southern brethren would never suffer to pass in Congress, I certainly would never oppose.” (Peabody, p201)
1819: “Negro Slavery is an evil of colossal magnitude.” (Ellis,p140)”
“Ending the Slavery Blame-Game
“Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.
The African role in the slave trade was fully understood and openly acknowledged by many African-Americans even before the Civil War. For Frederick Douglass, it was an argument against repatriation schemes for the freed slaves. “The savage chiefs of the western coasts of Africa, who for ages have been accustomed to selling their captives into bondage and pocketing the ready cash for them, will not more readily accept our moral and economical ideas than the slave traders of Maryland and Virginia,” he warned. “We are, therefore, less inclined to go to Africa to work against the slave trade than to stay here to work against it.””
“Our new understanding of the scope of African involvement in the slave trade is not historical guesswork. Thanks to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, directed by the historian David Eltis of Emory University, we now know the ports from which more than 450,000 of our African ancestors were shipped out to what is now the United States (the database has records of 12.5 million people shipped to all parts of the New World from 1514 to 1866). About 16 percent of United States slaves came from eastern Nigeria, while 24 percent came from the Congo and Angola.”
“But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold. Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.”