Monday, August 01, 2011

Jefferson The Slave Owner

Our Narcissists of Nuance love to condescendingly remind us, when we point out that our founders worked to end slavery, that Washington and Jefferson owned slaves, as if that ends any possibility that what we say has any credence, and (as is usual with the left) they fully expect the conversation to stop there, and it often does.

We all know now that Michele Bachmann, therefore, is obviously an uneducated idiot for saying it, and of course if she's a Tea Party Leader, how much more ignorant must her knuckle-dragging followers be?

But as I have pointed out before, just as a smoker may wish to quit smoking and work to keep others from doing it, so may a slaveowner -- who was born into it and inherited them at the age of 14 at a time when it was a common practice ... wish to and work toward its abolition.

It turns out that in 1769, one of Jefferson's first acts as a legislator in the State of Virginia was to propose a law allowing owners to emancipate their slaves.

That's right.  It was, in fact, against the law in Virginia to set your slaves free.  You could sell them.  But not free them.

In 1774 he wrote in A Summary of the Rights of British America
The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the enfranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa; yet our repeated attempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his majesty’s negative: Thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few African corfairs (slaves) to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature deeply wounded by this infamous practice
In his draft of the Declaration of Independence, he railed against the King for continuing the slave trade (this language was later removed by others)
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, by 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.
When Gen. Cornwallis burned Jefferson's Elk Hill plantation, killing the livestock and taking 30 slaves, Jefferson wrote of the ordeal:
He carried off also about 30. slaves: had this been to give them freedom he would have done right, but it was to consign them to inevitable death from the small pox and putrid fever then raging in his camp. This I knew afterwards to have been the fate of 27. of them. I never had news of the remaining three, but presume they shared the same fate.
Again in 1778, he introduced a bill into the state legislature to end the importation of slaves and it was actually approved.  He gives an account here:
The bill in the subject of slaves was a mere digest of the existing laws respecting them, without any intimation of the plan for a future and general emancipation. It was thought better that this should be kept back, and attempted only by way of amendment, however the bill should be brought on. The principles of the amendment however were agreed on, that is to say, the freedom of all born after a certain day, and deportation at a proper age. But it was found that the public mind would not yet bear the proposition, nor will it bear it even at this day. Yet the day is not distant when it must bear and adopt it, or worse will follow.
And, of course, later in 1785 the left's favorite "atheist", slave-driving founder wrote this:
The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it….  The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst passions, and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances … if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is to be born to live and labor for another or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.
We can see Jefferson looking back likely to his own childhood and lamenting where his formative attitudes came from before he began his intensive studies in, what can only be referred to as "everything".  It is clear that he had no wish to pass them along, nor for them to be passed along by others.  Jefferson was clearly strongly against the institution, his personal involvement in it notwithstanding.

The Alinskyian Left understands as much as anyone that cultural change is necessary before new ideas can take off.  Not that all new ideas are good by virtue of being new, nor is all cultural change ... but this one we know, and Jefferson knew ... was.
In Maryland I do not find such a disposition to begin the redress of this enormity as in Virginia. This is the next state to which we may turn our eyes for the interesting spectacle of justice in conflict with avarice and oppression: a conflict wherein the sacred side is gaining daily recruits from the influx into office of young men grown and growing up. These have sucked in the principles of liberty as it were with their mother's milk, and it is to them I look with anxiety to turn the fate of this question.
It was a little more complicated than Jefferson's (and Washington's ... who also inherited his at a young age)   detractors try to make it out to be.  Yes, they were slaveowners, and they not only acknowledged, but felt a deep conviction that the practice was wrong,  and they did, in fact, work to end it.

One last entry of note.  The Federal Government was executor of the lands between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, which had been formerly claimed by the colonies but ceded to the Federal Government by them.   Jefferson introduced in his bill a clause to ban slavery in these new territories after 1800.  His proposal was defeated by one vote.

He later wrote of this:
 "The voice of a single individual ... would have prevented this abominable crime from spreading itself over the new country. Thus we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment!" [..] "We must await with patience the workings of an overruling Providence, and hope that He is preparing the deliverance of these, our suffering brethren. When the measure of their tears shall be full, when their groans shall have involved heaven itself in darkness, doubtless a God of justice will awaken to their distress, and by diffusing light and liberality among their oppressors, or, at length, by His exterminating thunder, manifest His attention to the things of this world."
Did Michele Bachmann know what she was talking about?

Clearly, she did.  Crack open original-source history books and it is clear.

Next time you go to call a Tea Partier an idiot because the history they refer to isn't quite the one you remember from school, you'd better make sure the one you learned isn't the one that's lacking.

1 comment:

Severian said...

Eh.... if they actually knew history, they wouldn't be liberals.

Funny how they can condemn us with their fake history, but we can't even faze them when we point out their real history. As in:

-- Che Guevara, beloved t-shirt icon, ordered thousands of executions and personally carried out some.

-- Margaret Sanger, feminist icon and founder of Planned Parenthood, was a eugenicist and a raving racist (she described birth control as "a sure light in our racial darkness").

-- Noam Chomsky is a raving anti-Semite who has lied about....well, everything, including his academic work (of course, for our modern left, anti-Semitism is a feature, not a bug, but you get it).

--Al Sharpton is also a raving anti-Semite (gosh, seeing a theme here?) who has real blood on his hands (Freddy's Fashion Mart).

-- and, of course, the countless victims of communism who somehow weren't killed by out-and-proud left wingers acting for avowedly left-wing ends.

None of that shit counts, apparently, but Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house. And yet somehow we're the ignoramuses....