By David K. Shipler
In his draft of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Thomas Jefferson included this denunciation of the King of England’s trade in human beings. It was deleted by the Continental Congress, much to his chagrin. He nonetheless retained it in copies that he sent to those with whom he corresponded, demonstrating that as a slave-owner who detested slavery, he was as complex as the society he guided. On this and every July 4, it is worth considering whether our history would have taken a different course had the men of the Congress been enlightened enough to include it. As the reporters of National Public Radio take turns reading the Declaration to mark every Fourth, they would do well to add this condemnation, noting its unfortunate demise.
By Thomas Jefferson
He [King George III] has waged a 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 and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.