letter: Declaration of independence was not a key moment to end slavery | To free


Ignoring the civil war 90 years later and presenting no evidence, a letter to the editor on August 5 claimed that the Declaration of Independence “was the defining moment in the struggle to end slavery.” The letter unfairly called the source in a previous article “mad” for saying that the Declaration excluded many people from liberty and equality, and wrongly confused the elimination of slavery with liberty and freedom. equality, which did not become law for 100 years and remains a challenge today.

The author “asks the question of what was politically possible at the time”. The answer is simple: the Declaration could have clearly stated that slavery was ending, that all people deserve freedom, and “we are all one team”, and even used the now classic call “blame a stranger”. . According to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft:

“He waged a cruel war against human nature itself, violating his most sacred rights to life and liberty in the people of a distant people who never offended him, captivating them and dragging them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur a miserable death in their transport there. This war of piracy, the opprobrium of the infidel powers, is the war 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 to suppress any legislative attempt to prohibit or restrict this execrable commerce. us, and to buy that freedom that he took away from them, by murdering the people he imposed them on. … “

As stated in Jefferson’s autobiography, this passage was deleted due to opposition from southern states and, for economic reasons, some northern states. It cannot be said, as the letter did, that the founders were politically incapable of doing more, when they explicitly refused to do more. Although the Declaration allowed the dream of freedom and equality, we must recognize that it also allowed the reality of slavery and inequality.

Editor’s Note: Ian Nemerov is Chairman of the Edina Planning Commission.

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