Rise of antislavery sentiment in late 18 th century
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Rise of Antislavery Sentiment in late 18 th Century. Fueled by Spread of Enlightenment ideals/ revolutionary ideology Evangelical Christianity – all men equal in eyes of God. Thomas Jefferson on Virginia’s Early Antislavery Movement.

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Rise of Antislavery Sentiment in late 18 th Century

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Rise of antislavery sentiment in late 18 th century

Rise of Antislavery Sentimentin late 18th Century

Fueled by

  • Spread of Enlightenment ideals/ revolutionary ideology

  • Evangelical Christianity – all men equal in eyes of God


Thomas jefferson on virginia s early antislavery movement

Thomas Jefferson on Virginia’s Early Antislavery Movement

“In 1769, I became a member of the legislature by the choice of the county in which I live, & continued in that until it was closed by the revolution. I made one effort in that body for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal could expect success.

“Our minds were circumscribed within narrow limits by an habitual belief that it was our duty to be subordinate to the mother country in all matters of government, to direct all our labors in subservience to her interests, and even to observe a bigoted intolerance for all religions but hers.”

Jefferson’s Autobiography


Virginia house of burgesses to the king april 1772

Virginia House of Burgesses to the King, April 1772

“The importation of Slaves into the Colonies from the Coast of Africa hath long been considered as a Trade of great Inhumanity, and, under its present Encouragement, we have too much Reason to fear will endanger the very Existence of your Majesty’s American dominions.”


Virginia on the eve of revolution

Virginia on the Eve of Revolution

Total Population: 567,614

Enslaved Persons of African Descent: 270,762 (48 percent)


Address of virginia house of burgesses 1772 cont d

Address of Virginia House of Burgesses, 1772 (cont’d)

“We are sensible that some of your majesty’s subjects in Great-Britain may reap Emoluments from this Sort of Traffic, but when we consider that it greatly retards the Settlement of the Colonies with more useful inhabitants, and may, in Time, have the most destructive Influence, we presume to hope that the Interest of a few will be disregarded when placed in Competition with the Security and Happiness of such Numbers of your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects.”


Thomas jefferson a summary view of the rights of british america 1774

Thomas Jefferson“A Summary View of the Rights of British America” (1774)

  • Prepared as instructions for Virginia’s delegates to the First Continental Congress

  • Jefferson cited the King’s veto of anti-slave trade legislation as a prime example of his “shameful abuse” of power.


Jefferson s summary view of rights of british america 1774

Jefferson’s “Summary View of Rights of British America” (1774)

“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 corsairs to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous practice.”


Making the case for american independence revolution

Making the Case for American Independence & Revolution

Jefferson warned that the American colonists risked enslavement at the hands of a King who had shown no moral scruples over the continuation of the international slave trade or the perpetuation of domestic slavery in the British American colonies.

“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day,” he wrote, “but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing us to slavery.”


American revolution

American Revolution

April 1775 – Outbreak of war

June 1775 - Virginia’s royal governor, Lord Dunmore, takes asylum aboard ship in Yorktown

August 1775 – Dunmore initiates unofficial policy of soliciting slaves to augment his military guard

October 1775 – “Lord Dunmore sails up and down the river, and where he finds a defenceless place, he lands, plunders the plantation and carries off the negroes.”

November 1775 – Dunmore issues proclamation establishing martial law.


Lord dunmore s proclamation dec 7 1775

Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation(Dec. 7, 1775)

“I do require every Person capable of bearing Arms, to resort to His MAJESTY'S STANDARD, or be looked upon as Traitors to His MAJESTY'S Crown and Government, and thereby become liable to the Penalty the Law inflicts upon such Offenses; such as forfeiture of Life, confiscation of Lands, &. &. And I do hereby further declare all indented Servants, Negroes, or others, (appertaining to Rebels,) free that are able and willing to bear Arms, they joining His MAJESTY'S Troops as soon as may be, foe the more speedily reducing this Colony to a proper Sense of their Duty, to His MAJESTY'S Crown and Dignity.”


Virginia s slaveholding patriots respond

Virginia’s slaveholding patriots respond

Colonial propagandists urged slaves to cast their lot with their Virginia masters, “who pity their condition, who wish in general to make it as easy and comfortable as possible, and who would willingly, if it were in their power, or were they permitted, not only prevent any more negroes from losing their freedom, but restore it to such as have already lost it.”

Virginia colonial authorities made an official “offer of mercy” to those slaves who had been “seduced” into taking up arms for the British.


Lord dunmore s ethiopian regiment

Lord Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment

  • Estimates vary on numbers of runaway slaves enlisted – probably only about 800

  • Relocated as British American “loyalists” to Nova Scotia after war

  • Veterans of Dunmore’s regiment joined other freed slaves in establishing private British colony of Sierra Leone (1792)


Declaration of independence 1776

Declaration of Independence (1776)

Jefferson’s draft includes this indictment of King George:

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people [Africans] 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 this execrable commerce …”


Jefferson s draft revised to eliminate refs to slave trade

Jefferson’s draft revised to eliminate refs to slave trade

The Continental Congress, meeting behind closed doors in Philadelphia, voted to delete all but the most oblique references to slavery from the final draft of the Declaration. As Jefferson later explained in his autobiography:

“The clause . . . reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina & Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary still wished it to continue. Our northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures; for tho' their people have very few slaves themselves yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.”


Declaration of independence

Declaration of Independence

Jefferson’s rough draft (cont’d)

“ . . . 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 further crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”


Declaration endorses people s right to rebel in defense of god given liberties

Declaration Endorses People’s Right to Rebel in Defense of God-Given Liberties

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happinesses;

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 those ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.


U s constitution 1787

U.S. Constitution (1787)

  • Strengthened the political power of the slaveholding states by adopting the three-fifths clause for purposes of representation

  • Mandated that fugitive slaves who crossed state lines be returned to their owners

  • Extended African slave trade by no less than twenty years

  • Pledged full power of the federal government to put down slave insurrections


Jefferson s notes 1785

Jefferson’s Notes (1785)

“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?

“Indeed I tremble for my country when reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.”

Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, Query 14, “Laws”


Jefferson s notes 17851

Jefferson’s Notes (1785)

“There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. 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; for man is an imitative animal…”

Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, Query 18, “Manners”


Rise of antislavery sentiment in late 18th century

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, & as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions indeed generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them.”

Thomas Jefferson to James Madison

Paris, January 30, 1787


Rise of antislavery sentiment in late 18th century

Jefferson on Virtues of Rebellion

“I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the Atmosphere.”

Jefferson to Abigail Adams,

Feb. 22, 1787


Jefferson on the french revolution

Jefferson on the French Revolution

“In the struggle which was necessary, many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as any body, & shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree…

The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood?”

Jefferson to William Short

January 3, 1793


Rise of antislavery sentiment in late 18th century

Jefferson on French Revolution

“It is unfortunate, that the efforts of mankind to recover the freedom of which they have been so long deprived, will be accompanied with violence, with errors, & even with crimes. But while we weep over the means, we must pray for the end.”

Jefferson to François D'Ivernois

Feb. 6, 1795


Haitian revolution

Haitian Revolution

“Haitians were the first, and remain the only, enslaved people in human history to have overthrown slavery and established an independent polity rule by former slaves in place of one controlled by their masters.”

--Historian James Sidbury


Haitian revolution 1791 1804

Haitian Revolution (1791-1804)

  • Began in 1791 with slave uprising in French West Indian colony of Saint Domingue

  • Culminated in 1804 with establishment of independent black nation-state of Haiti


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