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The principles of civil and political | arraignment of British tyranny; but which were, nevertheless, widely and deeply felt to be an important and integral portion of our case. Even divested of this, the Declaration stands to-day an evidence that our fathers regarded the rule of Great Britain as no more destructive to their own rights than to the rights of mankind.
liberty, so patiently evolved and so thoroughly commended during the long controversy which preceded the appeal to arms, were reduced to axioms, and became portions of the popular faith. When Jefferson, in drafting our immortal Declaration of Independence, embodied in its preamble a formal and emphatic assertion of the inalienable Rights of Man, he set forth propositions novel and startling to European ears, but which eloquence and patriotic fervor had already engraven deeply on the American heart. That Declaration was not merely, as Mr. Choate has termed it, "the passionate manifesto of a revolutionary war;" it was the embodiment of our forefathers' deepest and most rooted convictions; and when, in penning that Declaration, he charged the British government with upholding and promoting the African slavetrade against the protests of the colonists, and in violation of the dictates of humanity, he asserted truths which the jealous devotion of South Carolina and Georgia to slaveholding rendered it impolitic to send forth as an integral portion of our
sion of our slaves in this colony upon the most safe and equitable footing for the masters and themselves."-American Archives, 4th Series, vol. i., 1774 and 1775.
"The following is the indictment of George III., as a patron and upholder of the African slavetrade, embodied by Mr. Jefferson in his original draft of the Declaration :
"Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and 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 dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed
No other document was ever issued which so completely reflected and developed the popular convictions which underlaid and impelled it as that Declaration of Independence. The cavil that its ideas were not original with Jefferson is a striking testimonial to its worth. Originality of conception was the very last merit to which he would have chosen to lay claim, his purpose being to embody the general convictions of his countrymen - their conceptions of human, as well as colonial, rights and British wrongs, in the fewest, strongest, and clearest words. The fact that some of these words had already been employed-some of them a hundred times-to set forth the same general truths, in no manner unfitted them for his use.
The claim that his draft was a pla
against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another."
"Mr. Jefferson, in his Autobiography, gives the following reason for the omission of this remarkable passage from the Declaration as adopted, issued, and published:
"The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it. Our Northern brethren also, I believe, felt a little tender under those censures; for, though their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others." — Jefferson's Works, vol. i., p. 170.
SLAVERY IN THE REVOLUTION.
giarism from the Mecklenburg (N. | taining happiness and safety." C.) Declaration of April 20th, pre- also the Mecklenburg Declaration. ceding, he indignantly repelled; but he always observed that he employed whatever terms best expressed his thought, and would not say how far he was indebted for them to his reading, how far to his original reflections. Even the great fundamental assertion of Human Rights, which he has so memorably set forth as follows: "We hold these truths to be self-ingston; reported, after twenty days'
gestation, on the 28th of June; read in Committee of the Whole on the 1st of July; earnestly debated and scanned throughout the three following days, until finally adopted on the evening of the 4th. It may safely be said that not an affirmation, not a sentiment, was put forth therein to the world, which had not received the deliberate approbation of such cautious, conservative minds as those of Franklin, John Adams, and Roger Sherman, and of the American People, as well as their representatives in Congress, those of South Carolina and Georgia included.
The progress of the Revolution justified and deepened these convictions. Slavery was soon proved our chief source of weakness and of peril. Of our three millions of people, half a million were the chattels of others; and though all the colonies tolerated, and most of them expressly legalized slaveholding, the slaves, nearly concentrated in the Southern States, paralyzed the energies and enfeebled the efforts of their patriots. Incited by proclamations of royal governors and military commanders, thousands of the negroes escaped to British camps and garrisons, and were there
evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness," was no novelty to those who hailed and responded to it. Three weeks before, the Virginia Convention had unanimously adopted a Declaration of Rights, reported on the 27th of May by George Mason, which proclaims that "All men are by nature equally free, and have inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possess ing property, and pursuing and ob
The grandfather of James M. Mason, late U.S. Senator from Virginia, since Confederate
The original draft of the Declaration of American Independence was first communicated by Mr. Jefferson separately to two of his colleagues, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, on the committee chosen by Congress to prepare it; then to the whole committee, consisting, in addition, of Roger Sherman and Robert R. Liv
Emissary to England. George Mason was one of Virginia's most illustrious sons.
manumitted and protected; while the master race, alarmed for the safety of their families, were unable or unwilling to enlist in the Continental armies, or even to be called into service as militia."
The documents and correspondence of the Revolution are full of complaints by Southern slaveholders of their helplessness and peril, because of Slavery, and of the necessity thereby created of their more efficient defense and protection. The New England States, with a population less numerous than that of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, furnished more than double the number of soldiers to battle for the common cause. The South was repeatedly overrun, and regarded as substan108,086 tially subdued, by armies that would not have ventured to invade New 29,264 England, and could not have main11,889 tained themselves a month on her soil. Indeed, after Gage's expulsion
The number of slaves in the States respectively, at the time of the Revolution, is not known. But it may be closely approximated by the aid of the census of 1790, wherein the slave population is returned as follows:
with Franklin and Jay for negotiating peace with Great Britain, on the 14th of August, 1776, wrote from Charleston, S. C., to his son, then in England, a letter explaining and justifying his resolution to stand or fall with the cause of American Independence, in which he said:
"You know, my dear son, I abhor Slavery. I was born in a country where Slavery had been established by British kings and parliaments, as by the laws of that country, ages before my exI found the Christian religion and Slavery growing under the same authority and
cultivation. In I nevertheless disliked it. former days, there was no combating the prejudices of men supported by interest: the day, I hope, is approaching, when from principles of gratitude, as well as justice, every man shall strive to be foremost in showing his readiness to comply with the golden rule. Not less than twenty thousand pounds sterling would all my negroes produce, if sold at public auction toI am not the man who enslaved them; they are indebted to Englishmen for that favor: nevertheless, I am devising means for manumitting many of them, and for cutting off the entail of slavery. Great powers oppose me,—the laws and customs of my country, my own and the avarice of my countrymen. What will my chil-. dren say if I deprive them of so much estate? These are difficulties, but not insuperable. I will do as much as I can in my time, and leave the rest to a better hand.
"I am not one of those who arrogate the peculiar care of Providence in each fortunate event; nor one of those who dare trust in Providence for defense and security of their own liberty, while they enslave, and wish to continue in 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,' in connection with the discovery and elucidation, already noticed, of elemental principles, had pretty thoroughly cured the North of all attachment to Slavery before the close of the Revolutionary war.
der at Saratoga, New England, save the islands on her coast, was pretty carefully avoided by the Royalist generals, and only assailed by raids, which were finished almost as soon as begun. These facts, vividly impressed on the general mind by the
SLAVERY UNDER THE CONFEDERATION.
As the public burdens were con- | chartered claim to such lands much stantly swelled, and the debts of the several States increased, by the magnitude and duration of our Revolutionary struggle, the sale of yet unsettled lands, especially in the vast and fertile West, began to be regarded as a principal resource for the ultimate discharge of these constantly augmenting liabilities and it became a matter of just complaint and uneasiness on the part of those States-Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and South Carolina-which had no
freedom as themselves. I perceive the work before me is great. I shall appear to many as a promoter not only of strange, but of dangerous doctrines: it will therefore be necessary to proceed with caution. You are apparently deeply interested in this affair; but, as I have no doubts concerning your concurrence and approbation, I most sincerely wish for your advice and assistance, and hope to receive both in good time."Collection of the Zenger Club, pp. 20, 21.
The famous Rev. Samuel Hopkins, D.D., an eminent Calvinist divine, published, soon after the commencement of the war, a dialogue concerning the slavery of the Africans, which he dedicated to "The Honorable Continental
Congress," and of which the following passage exhibits the drift and purpose:
"God is so ordering it in his providence, that it seems absolutely necessary something should be speedily done with respect to the slaves among us, in order to our safety, and to prevent their turning against us in our present struggle,
beyond the limits of their then actual settlements, that their partners in the efforts, responsibilities, and sacrifices of the common struggle were likely to reap a peculiar and disproportionate advantage from its success. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia, each claimed, under their several charters, a right of almost infinite extension westward, and, in the event of the establishment of American independence, would naturally
in order to get their liberty. Our oppressors have planned to gain the blacks, and induce them to take up arms against us, by promising them liberty on this condition; and this plan they are prosecuting to the utmost of their power, by which means they have persuaded numbers to join them. And, should we attempt to restrain them by force and severity, keeping a strict guard over them, and punishing them severely who shall be detected in attempting to join our opposers, this will only be making bad worse, and serve to render our inconsistence, oppression, and cruelty more criminal, perspicuous, and shocking, and bring down the righteous vengeance of Heaven on our heads. The only way pointed out to prevent this threatening evil is to set the blacks at liberty ourselves, by some public acts and laws, and then give them proper encouragement to labor, or take arms in the defense of the American cause, as they shall choose. This would at once be doing them some degree of justice, and defeating our enemies in the scheme that they are prosecuting."-Hopkins's Works, vol. ii., p. 584.
each possess a vast area of unpeopled, their respective charters, now known as Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.
ungranted, and ultimately valuable lands. The landless States, with obvious reason and justice, insisted that these lands, won by the common valor and sacrifices of the whole American people, should be regarded as their common property, and to this end should be surrendered or ceded by the States claiming them respectively to the Confederation. The colonial charters, moreover, were glaringly inconsistent with each other; vast tracts being ceded by them to two or more colonies respectively; and it was a puzzling question, even for lawyers, to determine whether the earliest or the latest royal concession, if either, should have the precedence. There was but one beneficent and just solution for all disputes and difficulties in the premises; and this was a quit-claim by the respective States of their several rights and pretensions to lands exterior to their own proper boundaries, in favor of the common Confederacy. This consummation was, for the most part, seasonably and cheerfully agreed to. Connecticut made a moderate reservation of wild lands assured to her by her charter in what is now North
Though the war was practically concluded by the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, and though the treaty of peace was signed at Paris, November 30, 1782, the British did not evacuate New York till November 25, 1783; and the Ninth Continental Congress, which convened at Philadelphia on the 3d of that month, adjourned next day to Annapolis. A bare quorum of members responded to their names, but one and another soon dropped off; so that the journal of most days records no quorum present, and no business done, until about the 1st day of March, 1784. On that day, Mr. Jefferson, on behalf of the delegates from his State, presented the deed of cession to the Confederation, by Virginia, of all her claims to jurisdiction over territory northwest of the Ohio, and to the soil also of that territory, subject to the reservation in behalf of her soldiers already noted. This deed being formally accepted, Mr. Jefferson moved the appointment of a select committee to 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