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mother country; admitting that the petitions for its discontinuance were disregarded, still there was nothing to prevent immediate manumission at the time of the acknowledgment of their independence by Great Britain. They had then every thing to recommence; they had to select a new form of government, and to decide upon new laws; they pronounced, in their Declaration, that “all men were equal ;” and yet, in the face of this Declaration, and their solemn invocation to the Deity, the negroes, in their fetters, pleaded to them in vain. I
I had always thought that this sad omission, which has left such an anomaly in the Declaration of Independence as to have made it the taunt and reproach of the Americans by the whole civilized world, did really arise from fore getfulness; that, as is but too often the case, when we are ourselves made happy, the Americans in their joy at their own deliverance
from a foreign yoke, and the repossessing them
selves of their own rights, had been too much engrossed to occupy themselves with the undeniable claims of others. But I was mistaken ; , such was not the case, as I shall presently shew.
In the course of one of my sojourns in Philadelphia, Mr. Vaughan, of the Athenaeum of that city, stated to me that he had found the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, in the hand-writing of Mr. Jefferson, and that it was curious to remark the alterations which had been made previous to the adoption of the manifesto which was afterwards promulgated. It was to Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin, that was entrusted the primary drawing up of this important document, which was then submitted to others, and ultimately to the Convention, for approval; and it appears that the question of slavery had nor been overlooked when the document was first framed, as the following clause, inserted in the original draft by
Mr. Jefferson, but ewpzmged when it was laid
before the Convention), will sufliciently prove. After enumerating the grounds upon which they threw off their allegiance to the King of England, the Declaration continued, in Jefferson’s nervous style:
“ He [the king] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty, in the person of a distant people who never offended him ; captivating and 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 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 these very people to rise in arms among us, and
to purchase that liberty of which he has de
prived 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.”
Such was the paragraph which had been inserted by Jefferson, in the virulence of his democracy, and his desire to hold up to detestation the King of Great Britain. Such was at that time, unfortunately, the truth; and had the paragraph remained, and at the same time emancipation been given to the slaves, it would have been a lasting stigma upon George the Third. But the paragraph was expunged; and why? because they could not hold up to public indignation the sovereign whom they had abj ured, without reminding the world that slavery still existed in a community which had declared that “ all men were equal ;” and that if, in a. monarch, they had stigmatised it as “ violating the most sacred rights of life and liberty,” and “wag
1ng cruel war against human nature,” they could not have afterwards been so barefaced and unblushing as to continue a system which was at variance with every principle which they professed.*
It does, however, satisfactorily prove that the question of slavery was not overlooked; on the contrary, their determination to take advantage of the system was deliberate, and, there can be no doubt, well considered :-—the very omission of the paragraph proves it. I mention these facts to show that the Americans have no right to revile us on being the cause of slavery in America. They had the means, and were bound, as honourable men, to act up to their Declaration; but they entered into the question, they decided otherwise, and decided that they
a" Miss Martineau, in her admiration of democracy, says that, in the formation of the government, “The rule by which they worked was no less than the golden one, which seems to have been, by some unlucky chance, omitted in the Bibles of other statesmen, “Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you.” I am afraid the American Bible, by some unlucky chance, has also omitted that precept.