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The principles of civil and political arraignment of British tyranny; but liberty, so patiently evolved and so which were, nevertheless, widely and thoroughly commended during the deeply felt to be an important and long controversy which preceded integral portion of our case. Even the appeal to arms, were reduced divested of this, the Declaration to axioms, and became portions of stands to-day an evidence that our the popular faith. When Jeffer- fathers regarded the rule of Great son, in drafting drafting our
immortal Britain as no more destructive to Declaration of Independence, em- their own rights than to the rights of bodied in its preamble a formal and mankind. emphatic assertion of the inalienable No other document was ever issued Rights of Man, he set forth propo- which so completely reflected and sitions novel and startling to Euro- developed the popular convictions pean ears, but which eloquence and which underlaid and impelled it as patriotic fervor had already engraven that Declaration of Independence. deeply on the American heart. That The cavil that its ideas were not Declaration was not merely, as Mr. original with Jefferson is a striking Choate has termed it, “the passion- testimonial to its worth. Originality ate manifesto of a revolutionary of conception was the very last merit war;" it was the embodiment of our to which he would have chosen to forefathers' deepest and most rooted lay claim, his purpose being to emconvictions; and when, in penning body the general convictions of his that Declaration, he charged the countrymen — their conceptions of British government with upholding human, as well as colonial, rights and and promoting the African slave- British wrongs, in the fewest, strongtrade against the protests of the est, and clearest words. The fact colonists, and in violation of the that some of these words had already dictates of humanity, he asserted been employed—some of them a truths which the jealous devotion of hundred times—to set forth the same South Carolina and Georgia to slave- general truths, in no manner unfitted holding rendered it impolitic to send them for his use. forth as an integral portion of our The claim that his draft was a pla
sion of our slaves in this colony upon the most safe against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes and equitable footing for the masters and them. which he urges them to commit against the LIVES selves.”-American Archives, 4th Series, vol i., of another." 1774 and 1775.
* Mr. Jefferson, in his Autobiography, gives the *The following is the indictment of George III., following reason for the omission of this reas a patron and upholder of the African slave-markable passage from the Declaration as adopttrade, embodied by Mr. Jefferson in his original ed, issued, and published: draft of the Declaration :
“The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving "Determined to keep open a market where MEN the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to had never attempted to restrain the importation prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact to continue it. Our Northern brethren also, I of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very believe, felt a little tender under those censures; people to rise in arms among us, and purchase for, though their people had very few slaves that hberty of which he has deprived them, by themselves, yet they had been pretty considerar murdering the people on whom he also obtruded ble carriers of them to others." — Jefferson's thom: thu paying off former crimes committed | Works, vol i, p. 170.
SLAVERY IN THE REVOLUTION.
giarism from the Mecklenburg (N. | taining happiness and safety. See C.) Declaration of April 20th, pre- also the Mecklenburg Declaration. ceding, he indignantly repelled; but The original draft of the Declarahe always observed that he employed tion of American Independence was whatever terms best expressed his first communicated by Mr. Jefferson thought, and would not say how far separately to two of his colleagues, he was indebted for them to his read John Adams and Benjamin Franking, how far to his original reflec-lin, on the committee chosen by Contions. Even the great fundamental gress to prepare it; then to the whole assertion of Human Rights, which he committee, consisting, in addition, of has so memorably set forth as follows: Roger Sherman and Robert R. Liv“We hold these truths to be selfingston; reported, after twenty days' evident, that all men are created gestation, on the 28th of June; read equal; that they are endowed by in Committee of the Whole on the their Creator with certain inaliena- 1st of July; earnestly debated and ble rights ; that among these, are life, scanned throughout the three followliberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; | ing days, until finally adopted on the that to secure these rights govern- evening of the 4th. It may safely ments are instituted among men, be said that not an affirmation, not a deriving their just powers from the sentiment, was put forth therein to consent of the governed ; that, when the world, which had not received ever any form of government be- the deliberate approbation of such comes destructive of these ends, it is cautious, conservative minds as those the right of the people to alter or to of Franklin, John Adams, and Roger abolish it, and to institute a new gov- Sherman, and of the American Peoernment, laying its foundations on ple, as well as their representatives such principles, and organizing its in Congress, those of South Carolina powers in such form, as to them shall and Georgia included. seem most likely to effect their safety The progress of the Revolution and happiness," was no novelty to justified and deepened these convicthose who hailed and responded to tions. Slavery was soon proved our it. Three weeks before, the Virginia chief source of weakness and of peril. Convention had unanimously adopt- of our three millions of people, half ed a Declaration of Rights, reported a million were the chattels of others; on the 27th of May by George Ma- and though all the colonies tolerated, son," which proclaims that “All men and most of them expressly legalized are by nature equally free, and have slaveholding, the slaves, nearly coninherent rights, of which, when they centrated in the Southern States, enter into a state of society, they paralyzed the energies and enfeebled cannot, by any compact, deprive or the efforts of their patriots. Incited divest their posterity; namely, the by proclamations of royal governors enjoyment of life and liberty, with and military commanders, thousands the means of acquiring and possess of the negroes escaped to British ing property, and pursuing and ob- camps and garrisons, and were there
The grandfather of James M. Mason, late Emissary to England. George Mason was one US Senator from Virginia, since Confederate of Virginia's most illustrious sons.
manumitted and protected; while
The documents and correspondence the master race, alarmed for the of the Revolution are full of comsafety of their families, were unable plaints by Southern slaveholders of or unwilling to enlist in the Conti- their helplessness and peril, because nental armies, or even to be called of Slavery, and of the necessity thereinto service as militia.
by created of their more efficient deThe number of slaves in the States fense and protection. The New respectively, at the time of the Revo- England States, with a population lution, is not known. But it may be less numerous than that of Virginia, closely approximated by the aid of the Carolinas, and Georgia, furnished the
census of 1790, wherein the more than double the number of slave population is returned as fol- soldiers to battle for the common lows:
cause. The South was repeatedly
overrun, and regarded as substanNew Hampshire...... 158 Delaware.
17 Maryland. 103,036 tially subdued, by armies that would Rhode Island..
952 Virginia. Connecticut.. 2,759 North Carolina..... 100,572
not have ventured to invade New none South Carolina..
21,824 Georgia... 20.264 England, and could not have mainNew Jersey..
11,423 Kentucky. Pennsylvania 7....... 8,737 Tennessee.
tained themselves a month on her Total... 40,870) Total............. 657,327 soil. Indeed, after Gage’s expulsion
6 The number of troops employed by the Colo- | with Franklin and Jay for negotiating peace nies during the entire Revolutionary war, as with Great Britain, on the 14th of August, 1776, well as the number furnished by each, is shown wrote from Charleston, S. C., to his son, then in by the following, which is compiled from statis- | England, a letter explaining and justifying his tics contained in a work published by Jacob resolution to stand or fall with the cause of Moore, Concord, entitled, “Collections of the American Independence, in which he said: New Hampshire Historical Society for the year “You know, my dear son, I abhor Slavery. I 1824," vol. i., p. 236.
was born in a country where Slavery had been
established by British kings and parliaments, as New Hampshire
12,496 2,093 by the laws of that country, ages before my exMassachusetts.
istence. I found the Christian religion and Rhode Island.
Slavery growing under the same authority and Connecticut...
I nevertheless disliked it. In New York.
former days, there was no combating the prejuNew Jersey :
dices of men supported by interest: the day, I Pennsylvania
25,608 7,357 hope, is approaching, when from principles of Delaware.
2,317 376 gratitude, as well as justice, every man shall Maryland..
13,912 4,127 strive to be foremost in showing his readiness to Virginia
26,668 5,620 comply with the golden rule. Not less than North Carolina
twenty thousand pounds sterling would all my South Carolina
negroes produce, if sold at public auction toGeorgia .
I am not the man who enslaved them;
they are indebted to Englishmen for that favor: Total ...
nevertheless, I am devising means for manumit
ting many of them, and for cutting off the entail 6 Massachusetts adopted a new State Consti- of slavery. Great powers oppose me,—the laws tution in 1780, to which a bill of rights was pre- and customs of my country, my own and the fixed, which her Supreme Court soon after de ayarice of my countrymen. What will my chil. cided was inconsistent with the maintenance of
dren say if I deprive them of so much estate?
These are difficulties, but not insuperable. I Slavery, which had been thus abolished.
will do as much as I can in my time, and leave " Pennsylvania had passed an act of Gradual the rest to a better hand. Emancipation in 1780.
“I am not one of those who arrogate the pe* Henry Laurens of South Carolina, two years culiar care of Providence in each fortunate event; President of the Continental Congress, appointed for defense and security of their own liberty,
nor one of those who dare trust in Providence Minister to Holland, and captured on his way while they enslave, and wish to continue in thither by a British cruiser, finally Commissioner | slavery, thousands who are as well entitled to
THE STATES AND THEIR TERRITORIES.
from Boston, and Burgoyne's surren- necessities and sacrifices of the times, der at Saratoga, New England, save in connection with the discovery the islands on her coast, was pretty and elucidation, already noticed, of carefully avoided by the Royalist elemental principles,
elemental principles, had pretty generals, and only assailed by raids, thoroughly cured the North of all which were finished almost as soon attachment to, or disposition to jusas begun. These facts, vividly im- tify Slavery before the close of the pressed on the general mind by the Revolutionary war.
SLAVERY UNDER THE CONFEDERATION.
As the public burdens were con- | chartered claim to such lands much stantly swelled, and the debts of the beyond the limits of their then actual several States increased, by the mag-settlements, that their partners in the nitude and duration of our Revolu- efforts, responsibilities, and sacrifices tionary struggle, the sale of yet un- of the common struggle were likely settled lands, especially in the vast to reap a peculiar and disproporand fertile West, began to be regard- tionate advantage from its success. ed as a principal resource for the Massachusetts, Connecticut, New ultimate discharge of these constantly York, Virginia, North Carolina, and augmenting liabilities : and it be- Georgia, each claimed, under their came a matter of just complaint and several charters, a right of almost inuneasiness on the part of those States-- finite extension westward, and, in the Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, event of the establishment of Ameriand South Carolina-which had no can independence, would naturally freedom as themselves. I perceive the work in order to get their liberty. Our oppressors before me is great. I shall appear to many as a have planned to gain the blacks, and induce them promoter not only of strange, but of dangerous to take up arms against us, by promising them doctrines: it will therefore be necessary to pro- liberty on this condition; and this plan they are ceed with caution. You are apparently deeply prosecuting to the utmost of their power, by interested in this affair; but, as I have no doubts which means they have persuaded numbers to concerning your concurrence and approbation, I join them. And, should we attempt to restrain most sincerely wish for your advice and assist them by force and severity, keeping a strict ance, and hope to receive both in good time.”— guard over them, and punishing them severely Collection of the Zenger Club, pp. 20, 21.
who shall be detected in attempting to join our 9 The famous Rev. Samuel Hopkins, D.D., an
opposers, this will only be making bad worse,
and serve to render our inconsistence, oppression, eminent Calvinist divine, published, soon after
and cruelty more criminal, perspicuous, and the commencement of the war, a dialogue con shocking, and bring down the righteous vencerning the slavery of the Africans, which he geance of Heaven on our heads. The only way dedicated to “ The Honorable Continental pointed out to prevent this threatening evil is to Congress," and of which the following passage
set the blacks at liberty ourselves, by some public exhibits the drift and purpose:
acts and laws, and then give them proper en
couragement to labor, or take arms in the defense "God is so ordering it in his providence, that of the American cause, as they shall choose. This it seems absolutely necessary something should would at once be doing them some degree of be speedily done with respect to the slaves justice, and defeating our enemies in the scheme among us, in order to our safety, and to prevent that they are prosecuting."-Hopkins's Works, their turning against us in our present struggle, | vol ii., p. 584.
each possess a vast area of unpeopled, their respective charters, now known ungranted, and ultimately valuable as Tennessee, Alabama, and Missislands. The landless States, with ob- sippi. vious reason and justice, insisted that Though the war was practically these lands, won by the common concluded by the surrender of Cornvalor and sacrifices of the whole wallis at Yorktown, October 19, American people, should be regarded 1781, and though the treaty of peace as their common property, and to was signed at Paris, November 30, this end should be surrendered or 1782, the British did not evacuate ceded by the States claiming them New York till November 25, 1783; respectively to the Confederation. and the Ninth Continental Congress, The colonial charters, moreover, were which convened at Philadelphia on glaringly inconsistent with each the 3d of that month, adjourned next other; vast tracts being ceded by day to Annapolis. A bare quorum them to two or more colonies respect of members responded to their names, ively; and it was a puzzling question, but one and another soon dropped even for lawyers, to determine wheth- off; so that the journal of most days er the earliest or the latest royal con- records no quorum present, and no cession, if either, should have the pre- business done, until about the 1st cedence. There was but one benefi- day of March, 1784. On that day, cent and just solution for all dis- Mr. Jefferson, on behalf of the deleputes and difficulties in the premises; gates from his State, presented the and this was a quit-claim by the re- deed of cession to the Confederation, spective States of their several rights by Virginia, of all her claims to juand pretensions to lands exterior to risdiction over territory northwest of their own proper boundaries, in favor the Ohio, and to the soil also of that of the common Confederacy. This territory, subject to the reservation consummation was, for the most part, in behalf of her soldiers already seasonably and cheerfully agreed to. noted. This deed being formally Connecticut made a moderate reser- accepted, Mr. Jefferson moved the vation of wild lands assured to her appointment of a select committee to by her charter in what is now North- report a plan of government for the ern Ohio. Virginia, beside retain western territory; and Messrs. Jeffering her partially settled country son, Chase of Maryland, and Howell south of the Ohio, now forming the of Rhode Island, were appointed such State of Kentucky, reserved a suffi- committee. From this committee, ciency north of the Ohio to provide Mr. Jefferson, in due time, reported liberal bounties for her officers and an Ordinance for the government of soldiers who fought in the war of the “the territory, ceded already, or to Revolution, conceding all other ter- be ceded, by individual States to the ritory north of the river, and all ju- United States," specifying that such risdiction over this. And it was pre- territory extends from the 31st to the sumed, at the close of the war, that 47th degree of north latitude, so as North Carolina and Georgia would to include what now constitutes the promptly make similar concessions of States of Tennessee, Alabama, and the then savage regions covered by Mississippi, but which was then, and