5 interesting facts about the Declaration of Independence

Condemning slavery

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Although Thomas Jefferson was a lifelong slave owner, he had objections to the oppressive institution and believed that it should eventually be removed from society.

To wit, in an earlier draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson included antislavery language, referring to the practice as “execrable commerce” and an “assemblage of horrors.”

The language blamed King George III for having “waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its 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.”

However, the antislavery language was eventually removed, reportedly at the insistence of representatives from South Carolina and Georgia, and because some northerners felt it was too divisive.  

“The clause...reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in compliance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it,” Jefferson explained in his autobiography.

“Our Northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under these censures; for tho' their people have very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.”

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