Black History: Special Delivery!!
In drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson challenged the inhumanity of slavery. However, Jefferson enslaved over 600 people throughout his lifetime. Out of the 600 people he enslaved, he only freed seven. Jefferson believed that the enslaved were incapable of caring for themselves and therefore should not be freed. He felt that freeing the enslaved would be harmful to them.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with writing the Declaration of Independence. However, he did not do it alone. He was part of a group of five men appointed by the Continental Congress. The group included Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, and Robert Livingston. Jefferson penned the initial draft and then shared it with the other four. A few weeks later the draft was submitted to the Continental Congress. The congress vehemently opposed Jefferson’s language regarding slavery and it was subsequently removed from the final document.
Many years later, Jefferson would blame the reason for the passage being removed on delegates from states that actively participating in the slave trade (South Carolina, Georgia, and other Northern states.) Below is a copy of Thomas Jefferson’s original passage regarding slavery that was removed
“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and 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 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, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”