The Deleted Clause of the Declaration of Independence

When Thomas Jefferson included a passage attacking slavery in his draft of the Declaration of Independence it initiated the most intense debate among the delegates gathered at Philadelphia in the spring and early  summer of 1776.  Jefferson’s passage on slavery was the most important section removed from the final document.  It was replaced with a more ambiguous passage about King George’s incitement of “domestic insurrections among us.”  Decades later Jefferson blamed the removal of the passage on delegates from South Carolina and Georgia and Northern delegates who represented merchants who were at the time actively involved in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.  Jefferson’s original passage on slavery appears below.

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and 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 & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.  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 on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

From Blackpast.  Kevin Kallmes at Notes on Liberty has more details.

Hat tip: Brandon C.


I've always understood that passage to be related more to the slave trade than slavery itself. Splitting hairs? Perhaps.
One can't get around the fact that Thomas Jefferson himself was the beneficiary of slavery in whatever form you'd like to say. He would not have existed without it, even as he expressed definite reserves about its existence, if God were just.

One wonders whether Dan in Philly would exist without slavery, whether in Jefferson's time or in his own. You're a coward, Dan, and you'll be evicted with the rest of the leftists.

Americans have tolerated fascists and their evil plans far too long, so it will be great when fascists like him are finally evicted from Trump's America.

Slavery was introduced into this country before it was a country. The people living here had no control over it. It was mostly British and Dutch ship captains who went to Africa and bought slaves from Muslim slavers who themselves bought the slaves from black African slave owners. Slavery was an African establishment not American.

By the time America was trying to become a country slavery was already established and it would have been impossible to get the people to agree on a new country without accommodating those who already had slaves. While 98% of Americans did not own slaves the 2% who did were influential in politics and they forced a compromise.

One well-known source of slaves in the Atlantic slave trade was the [non-Muslim, by the way] Ashanti empire, which was in what is now Ghana. Slavery existed in many traditional societies in a variety of forms but this is economics blog: what do you think happens when a bunch of strangers dock their boats off the coast of Ashanti territory and start offering guns, jewelry and other prestige goods to the leaders there in exchange for slaves? Does the law of supply and demand not work in Africa?

Biiig dependencies on the situation; if they landed in medieval England and tried to buy off scarce peasant resources from a relatively unified group, with some religious prescription against slavery. Not very much.

Landing in a polygamous and heavily tribal situation and offering a profitable out to sell males from rival tribes, with a religious structure that mostly justified slavery (far more than Abrahamic religions could be put to). Something else.

"with some religious prescription against slavery"

Religion is relatively malleable, as the adherents to the Abrahamic religions who purchased and transported all of these slaves -- not to mention white, Christian indentured servants -- demonstrate. You also missed the reference to guns and the fact that slave traders often provided guns to slave-catchers in exchange for slaves as they knew that the guns were highly valued as they would be used to mount yet more wars to capture more slaves.

I have never seen anyone in a modern context claim that foreign states or groups that supply weapons to insurgents or governments have no influence over or responsibility for what happens next. On the contrary, most reasonable people understand that if you supply weapons to a regime or one side of a conflict, you are influencing outcomes. It takes two to tango but nobody denies that Iran, for instance, has a role in destabilizing neighboring countries or giving a lifeline to certain insurgent groups.

Of course religion is malleable to some extent, not infinitely so, and "it takes two to tango" (supply and demand both).

The meta in my post is simply that it was not "what would happen everywhere if technologically advanced buyers of slaves turned up". What happened was rooted predominantly in the sort of societies West Africa was host to at the time, and that it massively served the interest of local sellers (certainly much more than a unique encounter with foreigners with advanced weapons tech!).

When ever I rob a bank, I take great care to explain to the magistrate that bank robbery was introduced into our country from outside.

You are forgiven for your inability to read and comprehend. The correct wise ass response to what I said should have been; Whenever someone I don't know and never heard of living 1000 miles away robs a bank I shouldn't have to explain to fools and racists that I didn't do it. DUH!

Not reading comprehension, guessing intention.

Sitting here in foreignland, I see a clear difference between the US handling of slavery upon obtaining nationhood and every other large country in the Americas. Why the big difference from similar starting conditions?

We have been evicted? From MR? From crazytown?

'Thomas Jefferson himself was the beneficiary of slavery in whatever form you'd like to say'

Free sex.

Maybe. But more likely his horny young nephew.

It does not madder! Burn it all down!!!!

We could use a translation too. "Might want no fact of distinguished die"? "Prostituted his negative"? "On whom he has obtruded them"?

I think "on whom he has obtruded them" = "on whom he has perpetrated these horrors". Meanwhile, "prostituted his negative" sounds like "used his veto excessively", but then what was he vetoing? Wikipedia says "The last bill that was refused assent by the Sovereign was the Scottish Militia Bill during Queen Anne's reign in 1708."

can anybody translate this?
joe biden just said "I'm joe biden's husband, joe biden"

He meant to say Jill, hun. Shall we have dueling "dementia" quotes? Your boy has some doozeys.

sure, why not?
all lives matter
it'll be more fun than getting stabbed by one of harvards finest
postmodern gender theorists
we will start- biden' "you are a lying dog-faced pony soldier"
your turn

I'm sorry I triggered you, hun. I hope you have a blessed 4th of July.

Damn it Connie I was actually looking to this

Yes, we must have the coherent God Emperor so he can fulfill his second term priorities:

"Well, one of the things that will be really great… You know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that, but the word experience is a very important word. It’s a very important meeting. I never did this before. I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington, I think, 17 times. All of a sudden, I’m president of the United States. You know the story. I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our First Lady and I say, “This is great.”

"But I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan from New York. Now I know everybody, and I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes. An idiot like Bolton, all he wanted to do is drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to drop bums on everybody. You don’t have to kill people."

Dr. Sowell (our guy)
the left’s hair-brained marxist ideology is so fragile that it falls apart like a house of cards under the slightest scrutiny.

Vetoing anti-slave-trade legislation, it's in the rest of the sentence:

"Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. "

For the other one: a "distinguished die" is an official stamp of approval. So the King doesn't want to make public or official to his name the "horrors" of the slave trade.

fly- def. to be fly is to be cool, amazing & awesome

all lives matter

It appears in the above passage that Jefferson is more upset that the British are encouraging the slaves to rise against their overlords, rather than being upset by Slavery.

Seems he was only off by a few generations.

And being the sort of devoted lover of liberty you so obviously are, you would have been more than happy to help arm slaves to free themselves from their masters.

Do sharks like crickets?

What I would have done, like Abraham Lincoln and other great American patriots of the time proposed, would be the ultimate liberation: send slaves back to their ancestral homelands in Africa. That's the only true reparation. I imagine that you would have them stay to suffer another century of hate and discrimination.

In fact, although we regrettably can't make things right for those who were actually slaves, we can do the next best thing for their descendants: offer them payment to voluntarily move to Africa or another location of their choosing. I'm positive that, given the chance to leave a country filled with racist hate, where Black representation in our institutions is a ever-present issue, they will jump at the chance to live in a Black-run society. Paying for this move (and more as necessary) is the least we can do. Wouldn't you agree?

As a matter of fact, Lincoln brought back Americans that had been improperly forced to leave the U.S., not kicked them out.

'I imagine that you would have them stay to suffer another century of hate and discrimination.'
You have the oddest way of looking at things - that the best answer to falling short of the idea that all men are created equal is to be kick people born in America out.

'Wouldn't you agree?'
Well, I would probably chip in a couple of dollars in to have you, voluntarily of course, return to whatever country you consider more appropriately as your true homeland, seeing as you cannot stand today's America, and its racist hate against African American citizens.

Expecting Shark, our resident hentai boy with the delusions of totalitarianism, to actually put his money where his mouth is in that regard is certainly reaching. It’s not about wanting to live amongst his “people” independently; it’s about compensating for his pointless life (and no doubt some, let’s say, anatomical deficiencies) by pretending he can get rid of scary brown people.

I do live among my people; my family has been here longer than the United States has. It's not surprising to me that people who believe everything is racist sees my very presence as racist. I think anyone who believes in the American ideals should be allowed to stay; but, unlike the civic nationalist weenies, I also believe those ideals should be enforced. That means evicting the leftists who want to destroy America. This isn't a leftist country, and it never will be.

And while I do appreciate our prior friend's commitment to white nationalism, my cousins across the pond are currently dealing with their own migrant invasion. It seems that even in our homelands, we are expected to welcome those who want to transform them into their own ideals.

I'm reminded of the French woman who (in a quite racist fashion, no doubt) lamented the migrant transformation of France. She said that, if the migrants change France for the worse, they could always go back to their home nations; but, seeing as France was her home, where was she to go?

Who knows, maybe we can set up our own autonomous zones one day.

But seriously . . . what about a reparations bill that allows ANYONE the right to SELL their American citizenship to anyone else in the world anytime in the next 5 years? Non refundable.

I'm down with this as long as current American citizens can buy them up too. I'd cash out my 401(k) for that, it would be a much better investment.

wonder how much they would fetch. I would bet it would be more than 20k per even if 100M sold.

If sellers have to leave the country it would be way more than that

Fascinating. In a single post shark lasers both lauds American ideals and proposes (ala Stalin)exiling those who don't share his specific ideology. What color is the sky in your America shark lasers?

I have a counter to your modest proposal. Why don't we start a GoFundMe page to finance the return -- to their ancestors' continent of origin (mostly Europe no doubt)-- of all the MR bunker boys who object to our current cultural moment.

And, as an added bonus, each bunker boy would be given the opportunity to relocate to the nation/right wing Utopia/strongman of his/her/thier choice. For example, your ancestors might be from Scotland or England or some other leftist hellhole. No worries, Hungary beckons! find out where everyone's so crazy about Budapest!

I'm positive that, given the chance to leave a country filled with ideological opponents, and where racial equality is an ever-increasing danger, they will jump at the chance to live in a white-run society. Paying for this move (and more as necessary) is the least we can do. Wouldn't you agree?

@Shark Lasers .

You might consider the fact that most African Americans DO consider the United States their homeland. Especially given that (a) most of them have no idea what parts of Africa their ancestors came from, given how long ago it was, (b) their entire family and community is from the US, and (c) they have long-established African-American communities that are legitimately PART OF American culture.

This might be a complicated concept for you, but it's possible to live in a country and consider it your home and also feel that you are treated unjustly in various ways by the majority of the people. In a lot of places, a similar situation might result in something like regional autonomy. See Kosovo.

Purely out of curiosity, I wonder if you would be ok with that. Would you let the Black Belt of Alabama become a semi-autonomous majority-black state in it's own right?

I'd be perfectly fine with it. In fact, let's make it fully autonomous. Completely separate nation. You want Mississippi too? Let's do it from Tidewater all the way through the Delta.

It's not a complicated issue; I fully support self-determination for all peoples in their homelands.

The problem is: a) this right has been denied by the United States previously to certain groups, and i imagine would be denied to the same groups today; and b) is this, in fact, what the African-American community at large wants?

"I do live among my people; my family has been here longer than the United States has..."

A thousand years plus?

Or 400 years or so?

My roots go back 400 years to ancestors who pillage and plundered and killed or drove out those who were already here in what we call New England.

Before sending blacks back to Africa, it makes more sense to send whites back to Europe.

And those who created the US were leftist. Conservatives wanted state religion and monarchy.

Equality is leftist.

A transatlantic Trail of Tears. How human.

The only problem these people have with Shark Lasers is that he says the quiet part out loud. A fascist white supremacist country, through and through.

“As an Illinois legislator, congressman and political leader before the Civil War, Lincoln opposed the abolitionists, supported enforcement of the fugitive slave law, favored removing all blacks from the United States and explicitly endorsed the state’s laws barring blacks from voting, serving on juries, holding office and intermarrying with whites. According to the reminiscences of his contemporaries, he enjoyed minstrel shows and used the word “n” in private conversation and sometimes in speeches.

Lincoln’s commitment to colonizing blacks outside the country, a position he inherited from his political hero, Henry Clay, and advocated publicly for almost his entire political career. This was no passing fancy: Lincoln mentioned the idea in numerous prewar speeches, two State of the Union addresses, several cabinet meetings and in a notorious meeting with black leaders at the White House, at which he urged them to encourage their people to emigrate.“

Do you bring this sort of thing to the attention to your supervisor, with the not so subtle hint that a bonus is due?

Pew pew pew

Fascinating, the mind of an American.

To see themselves as the victims of a grand conspiracy by foreigners to quote American professors’ history books on a George Mason University economics website.

Nope, this is the sort of two bit effort that losers who cannot keep their empire together play. Amusingly though, who said anything about a conspiracy concerning foreigners, A German? You are a foreigner, living in Angela Merkel's paradise, aren't you?

A country that overwhelmingly rejects what is going on with a number of American minds at this point, without needing to bring odd ideas about conspiracies into it. I think you may have lost your bonus. And this is a Mercatus Center sponsored web site, the lack of the edu domain is the tip off that this web site is not part of GMU.

Ah you’re the same American troll as before. Such poor geographic knowledge to be added to your total lack of historical knowledge.

No, American, Germans are not foreigners in Germany. Shocking to learn I’m sure.

Also shocking to learn that people from countries outside of your proto-Fascist idiocracy are foreigners to the US. So I am an indeed a foreigner to you.

Germany is not an Empire we are a Federal Republic, and although it’s not a paradise it’s certainly paradise compared to the United States.

Apparently Americans are so ignorant and terrified of their own history that quoting American history books by American history professors is a grand conspiracy by outsiders attempting to take down the nation with facts and science.

Provincialism, ignorance, and a self centered vanity. You’re certainly an American.

Was the "n" word a slur at the time? I thought it simply meant "black" via French?

Regarding the others, this is complicated by the fact that, had his public opinions been different, he never could have become President and freed the slaves.

By the way, I wonder what opinions on such matters were like in Germany at the time (let alone 80 years later).

That's only true of the last sentence. The prior sentences are anti-slavery. Jefferson is saying that not only has the King forced slavery onto the Colonies ("Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce") but now the King is also encouraging those slaves to kill the colonists. ("Prostituted his negative" apparently refers to some veto power that the King has exercised to prevent colonists from restricting or outlawing slavery.)

Yes, Jefferson seems to be absolving the colonist slave owners for their role by portraying slavery as being forced ("obtruded") on the colonists. But, this section of the Declaration is after all an indictment of *the King*, listing all of the King's transgressions. Jefferson is like a prosecutor, making his case against the King defendant.

" Jefferson seems to be absolving the colonist slave owners for their role by portraying slavery as being forced ("obtruded") on the colonists."

To win over the other colonists, he must at least hint at that. No use making enemies of potential allies against the Crown. But alas, it was edited out because slavery was just not a PC thing to discuss.

It IS the Declaration of Independence against the British Empire after all not an editorial on the evils of slavery. The fact that he devoted much ink and gave rather specific motivations on why slavery is wrong is somewhat remarkable.

"Slavery is all the king's fault and not ours; also the king is trying to free them to murder us all and we can't do set them free".

No wonder it was excised; not exactly making the case that the Republic was conceived in a fair spirit of taking responsibility, for fair or ill.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions. And there's this. The native Americans were regarded as vermin to be eradicated, not as fellow humans already in possession of the land with their own values and priorities, and certainly disqualified from any say in the future of their own country.

these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states

Independent states, in the plural. But they are not independent in the sense that they are able to leave this union. No vote was ever taken of the residents of Alaska or Hawaii if they felt that being subjects of the Great White Father was a good idea.

In the faddish age of Enlightenment thinking and the rejection of the divine right of kings in favor of democracy, no vote was ever taken of the residents of the colonies to determine if a majority of these British citizens wished to sever their bonds with the United Kingdom.

"the divine right of kings" was scrapped in Britain permanently in 1688, having had a lengthy but temporary setback in the middle of the century.

Why some Americans think the idea was still in fashion in the late 18th century is a mystery.

It took a while before France had its Cromwell liberation moment in 1793.

It takes a long time for ideas to reach their conclusion. Slavery wasn't solved in 1776 so off to the 1860s the US goes even then Jim Crow and segregation. Divine right of kings might die in the late 17th century but still took multiple revolutions to truly put an end to it.

"In the late 17th and 18th centuries, kings such as Louis XIV (1643–1715) of France continued to profit from the divine-right theory, even though many of them no longer had any truly religious belief in it. The American Revolution (1775–83), the French Revolution (1789), and the Napoleonic Wars deprived the doctrine of most of its remaining credibility."

There weren't any Americans back in 1776 -- there were English Republicans living in the colonies for whom, I suppose, attacks on the monarchy resonated more deeply than attacks on parliament. Their partisan writings continue to influence American perceptions of history.

Sure there were Americans back in 1776. But instead of buckled shoes and knickers they wore breechclouts and moccasins.

Stop lying Chuck. They weren't real Americans. They were injuns. You know, redskins. Not the football team either, real redskins. End the war on injuns now. Pay the reparations, white man. In fact, go back to where you came from, white man, and take your slaves with you.

Warfare was and is brutal. For the most part, the American Indians gave as good as they got. Certainly they own the vast majority of massacres, and perhaps 100% of the torture massacres. Torturing captives of all ages and sexes to slow deaths was utterly routine for many tribes.

What strikes me about this passage is the conflict Jefferson has about slavery. He wants to condemn King George for slavery but, of course, Jefferson and many of the colonists themselves own slaves. So, Jefferson writes as though the King forced slavery on the slave owners (rather than just allowing the slave owners to own slaves): "he [King George] is now exciting those very people [slaves] to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people [slave owners] on whom he has obtruded them". There are actually two rhetorical sleights of hand here. First, the King is said to have forced ("obtruded") slavery on the slave owners. Second, the King is criticized for encouraging slaves to rebel against their slave owners, which is actually an anti-slavery action.

I don't mean this criticism in the usual SJW way of characterizing the Founding Fathers as just a bunch of slave owners. Rather, modern politicians also make generous use of passive voice and other rhetorical devices to deflect blame from one party to another, and it's just interesting to see that Jefferson engaged the same types of rhetorical tricks. He was human.

Alinskyite propaganda. Dear God he was a lying toad: one of nature's advertising copywriters.

of the hundreds of slaves he owned, he freed 5 (arguably 7) and half of them were his own children. It's also believed he began having sex (raping) Sally Hemmings in France when she was 14 -16. What a guy. Actions speak louder than words.

yes. in the 50 years he lived after struggling so hard to get some clause in a document in 1776, he freed all of 2 slaves while owning and buying and selling over 600. a few more were freed by his estate after his death.

Even assuming that what you are saying is perfectly true, this says nothing about Jefferson's ideas. Calling someone a hypocrite is not argument about the substance of the issue.

How do you know Sally didn't want it?
Oh, it doesn't matter, because the power differential. Anyway, all sex is rape.
Rape is the truest from of love.

I'm sure it was complicated, but isn't it the case that she was not a slave in France, France having outlawed slavery? (and in fact she could have remained in France and been free?)

Not Jefferson's writing style, is it? From the Notes on Liberty link: "Economist and cultural historian Thomas Sowell notes that Jefferson’s 1784 anti-slavery bill, which had the votes to pass but did not because of a single ill legislator’s absence from the floor, would have ended the expansion of slavery to any newly admitted states to the Union years before the Constitution’s infamous three-fifths compromise." Jefferson was not at Philadelphia for the convention; he was in France at the time. I've read many biographies of the great man but I can't remember whether he had a position on the compromise, or if he communicated it to Madison (his voice at the convention). But here's an interesting result of the compromise:

"Garry Wills, Pulitzer-prize winning author and historian, has explained in his book Negro President: Jefferson and the Slave Power how much this affected which laws were passed. Thomas Jefferson would never have been president if it weren’t for the Three-Fifths Compromise, as it became known. Jefferson actually had less votes than his opponent, Aaron Burr, but he was the popular candidate for the South and he made it into the office “on the backs of slaves.”'

That's a common mistake, but an entirely incorrect understanding of the 3/5 Clause. That clause *limited* the electoral power of the southern states, by preventing them from counting their entire number of slaves in the census. In other words, the clause reduced their representation in the House and, correspondingly, their electoral votes.

So explain to me how property can be included in a census. You know like acres of land or chairs. Southern power was magnified by that compromise.

Play dumb if you want, but it was the northern delegates who were insisting that slaves be excluded from the census and the calculation of House membership, while those from the south wanted them counted as full persons.

Exactly, and the original point stands. If slaves had been excluded in the same way that sovereign Native American tribes ("Indians not taxed") were, the South would have had less political power. Yet the South was able to use its clout to arrive at the three-fifths compromise so that it could balance out the free states in the north.

That's a meaningless observation because the South never would have agreed to count slaves at zero. The simple fact is that the compromise gave the South less political power than they wanted, so rayward's quote about the South winning electorally *because* of the compromise is wrong.

Slaves couldn't vote, thus giving (white males in) Southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes.

People are complicated. Jefferson obviously was. But it's interesting how clearly he did understand that these were "persons" and "men" deprived.

That is something the United States went more retrograde on between 1780 and 1850. Clearly even extending beyond. Once we had "systems" in place, it became necessary to forget the fundamental equality of persons and men.

Even now. The only question on our last census, once it was established that you were a citizen in a place, was "what race are you?"

That is tremendously sad in 2020. The government of the United States should really not care which "race" which person is.

The whole BLM movement is about the primacy of race. The Democratic Party can't win national elections unless they maintain a spoils system based on race.

Is that truly the only thing you can see?

Then try to say All Lives Matter. and see what happens

Shrug. That answer might be "playing politics fair and square," but I don't think it's especially rational or compelling. ymmv.

That was Hamiton Jordan's view, He was Chief of Staff for Jimmy Carter. For him, affirmative action, concessions to the Black Caucus, etc., was all about dealing with a special interest group, and political spoils.

He was more honest than most Democratic politicians.

Well, if you really want to do this we can start with the most basic question:

Does racial bias (against people of color) exist in the United States?

at the part of the united states that is harvard- yes

“The next person who has the sheer nerve, the sheer entitled ‘caucasity,’ to say ‘All Lives Matter,’ Imma stab you,” she said

all lives matter
what time does the stabbing start

Next you'll be telling me "I'm not the out-group."

if somebody says "imma stab you" we are inferring the stabee is the outgroup. looks like the shootings started -18 in chicago
harvard probly gonna schedule the stabbings after the shootings

Bias has existed against, Jews, Irish, Asians, Hispanics, etc.. Somehow America was able to find a place at the table or these groups built their own table. The most serious issues that the Black community faces are internal to the Black community. This is not the America of 60 or 160 or 260 years ago. How long will the issue of slavery remain an issue? A thousand years? Or until it stops paying dividends. Black males are about 6% of the population yet commit about 37% of the violent crimes. Much of that against other Blacks. Democratic policies have enriched a few select Blacks and left many more dependent on failed government programs. Look at Chicago where the flight of the Black middle class is even faster than the white flight of a previous generation. Michelle Obama wrote in college about how Blacks who make it turn their backs on the Blacks who don't. Explains her current address. But the truth is that some 'elites' manipulate the system by talking about the plight of poor Blacks while they walk away with the political spoils. And if you state the obvious, you are called a racist.

We have a spoils system based on race. Whites get the spoils. Republicans seem to have no problem with it. The BLM people do.

At least you are honest. Thank you, BLM. Blackmail Liberals for Money

In definitely related news, Slashdot continues to surprise as a top source on .. well to put it rudely, what MR used to be good at:

Does Success in Life Depend on Understanding Both Technology and Constitutional Law?

You’re not this stupid. Please tell me you don’t think the US constitution part is actually causal.

Come on dude.

Hmm. You seem confused.

Do you think I am Slashdot? Do you think I am EditorDavid? Do you think I am Thomas Friedman? Do you think I am the Rhode Island Department of Education? Do you think I am he College Board's Chief of Global Policy and External Relations?

But thanks for the slow ptich.

Oh, so you knowingly posted an incredibly stupid link.

And then praised it.

But you knew it was stupid the entire time.

Okay Boomer

Not at all. I thought Slashdot linked an interesting story, it was an interesting claim by Friedman, and it was very interesting that Rhode Island and the College Board would support it.

I don't actually have to invest in the outcome of the RI/CB venture to find it interesting.

But thanks for showing us your own shallow readings.

To be fair, this is perhaps not the right post to be harsh on anonymous. He has a very nuanced position on Jefferson, with which many of us (for once) are in agreement.

How embarrassing, ignorant Americans who lack even a basic understanding of their own history and civil rights movements. Hopefully this anonymous comment author is a child and therefore can be excused his gross negligence in learning the history of the civil rights movement in his own country.

Race on the census document is necessary of course to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which prohibited racial discrimination in voting. One of the various enforcement implementation procedures is to use the racial component of the census to prevent states from redistricting or “gerrymandering” voting areas to dilute voting share among racial minorities.

Of course in a fascist country that celebrates white supremacists such as Abraham Lincoln by casting them in bronze or marble, or excuses the rape of an African slave of the age of 14 by Thomas Jefferson as “he was complicated” I suppose it is par for the course.

You do not need the race question for that, at all. Once you have a citizen count and location(s), you can make sure there are appropriate polling places for all. Done.

If anything indicts us right now though, it is that we don't take that simple and non-discriminatory approach. It becomes instead a battle in higher courts about "how much" discrimination parties may apply to their opponents.

Yeah we don’t need any of those “heuristics”. We can count on all those local election boards to appropriately allocate those resources in a color blind fashion! Sure whatever you say.

Why not? Why wouldn't a certain minimum stations / population and maximum distance-to-travel solve everything?

Apologies, you must be either a child or an ignorant fool. Let me introduce you to how districting works in your own country since this is apparently one more area in which Americans demonstrate a profound ignorance of their own civics.

Decades ago all across the United States the state governments would redraw districting lines and intentionally draw the districting lines to dilute the African American vote. Because of the fascism. Historical African American neighborhoods would be carved out and diluted across historically white neighborhoods.

This scheming prevented African Americans from ever having a real opportunity to express their preferences in local and state government since African American voters were continuously split across white neighborhoods.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 made it illegal to redistrict in any way that would dilute African American vote share using racial census data as the standard.

This law has been continuously enforced by the Federal Courts for over 40 years using that racial data which you would ban from being collected.

You giant ignorant American. But I repeat myself.

So are you actually arguing against one-man-one-vote at this point?

Or are you using past prejudices and clunky solutions as a canard as you pretend to support one-man-one-vote?

Obwohl wirklich, fast alle in Deutschland kennen den Begriff Gerrymander.

(Oops - habe ich einen Fehler gemacht? Scheiss egal.)

(If this were Thanksgiving rather than the 4th, maybe I'd give thinks for slow-pitch responses.)

King George immediately waged a vicious war upon the American Colonies when they chose to peacefully go their own way.
Abraham Lincoln did exactly the same against the Confederate States.

No government is democratic. Most are oligarchies, with an occasional lone dictatorship.

Today's American government actors claim authority to forcibly interevene on any issue, right any wrong, regulate any behavior, and tax any event. Independence from government does not exist in any aspect of American life.

The Declaration of Independence was not at all about black slavery -- but today's politically correct pundits feel emotionally compelled to inject that issue into this routine July 4th calendar event.

This is exactly correct.

To get a more complete picture of what the deleted clause meant and why it was deleted, one can look up notes and records of the debates that occurred not only among the whole of the delegates, but between the men writing the drafts.

Yes, the "men" - plural.

While it's true that Jefferson was the primary author and wrote the first draft alone, Adams and Franklin worked with him on each successive draft and assisted him in selling the final version to all of the delegates.

Furthermore, slavery was not an institution limited to subjugating Africans. There were slaves of many nationalities, colors, and creeds. And in fact there were black land owners and slave owners in the colonies as well.

Like most things in history, "slavery" as an institution has a complicated history that dates back to when the first human capable of doing so picked up a stick and used it to force another to do his bidding. It didn't start with the US or the British colonies in North America - nor did it start with the Romans, or the Persians, or the Mongols, or even the Egyptians.

Slavery may have its origin as a "kinder and gentler" solution to dealing with conquered peoples: that is, an alternative to just killing the men and forcibly "marrying" the women.

Non-state societies (chiefdoms) generally do not have slavery for the same reason they do not have prisons: with no permanent system of government (and no taxes to pay for government employees), these societies have no practical way to prevent prisoners (or slaves) from escaping.

As for Jefferson, if he'd not been so profligate he could have at least freed 'his' slaves upon his death, but, as it was they were sold by his estate to pay his debts. Surely a man as apparently intelligent as Jefferson could have anticipated this consequence and changed his ways accordingly.

The step-nomads of Mongolia had slavery. The man who would become Genghis Khan escaped on at least two occasions.

That's true but in places that grew cotton and sugarcane in the 18th and early 19th centuries, slavery morphed into a globalized, mercantile enterprise, which it had not been before. Mississippi and South Carolina were majority-black slave states but the sugar cane islands in the West Indies were even more lopsided and something like 90-95% slave. As far as I know, nothing like that existed in ancient Greek or Roman times. Slaves back then were mostly servants, as they were in some of the non-plantation economies in North America, and they could sometimes buy their freedom and even become citizens. This path to freedom was much more restricted in the U.S. and the Dred Scott decision asserted (in dicta, but still) that U.S. citizenship for freed slaves was unconstitutional.

The obsession with the injustice of slavery over the actual genocide of American natives is one of the great conundrums of US history. Slaves were valuable property and while they may not have been treated kindly in all instances there was never a movement to indiscriminately kill them. They were fed, housed and allowed to procreate. They were given citizenship 59 years before the native Americans, who spent much of the intervening years dodging bullets fired by those same freed slaves.

Of course, we know the reasons that African-Americans are the most significant grievance group in the US, which, as 13% of the population, they make up a voting bloc capable of determining the outcome of local and national elections. African-Americans belong to the most elite levels of American society and are major figures in government, politics, entertainment, education, sports and industry. Native don't figure in any of those spheres. Their interests continue to be ignored as they have been since the arrival of the Europeans.

"The obsession with the injustice of slavery..."

Heated controversy over slavery goes back to the very founding of the United States, as the above post shows. Slavery is alluded two in three different parts of the Constitution because politicians were obsessed since day one with balancing political power between slave states and free states and finding compromises to allow both to coexist.

It was the culture war topic of the day throughout the 19th century. Thomas Jefferson described the controversy over the Missouri compromise as terrifying "like a fire bell in the night." Slavery inspired violent uprisings, religious fervor, riots, and partisan rancor before it led to an all-out civil war. Americans regard slavery as an important historical question because they always have.

Once slavery ended, it took another century to sort out exactly what citizenship for blacks should mean in practice and, once again, that question likewise inspired violence and partisan rancor.

As for the treatment of the Native Americans, it is certainly a good point why it doesn't get more attention but I think there is a case that it never received as much attention as slavery. In the case of westward expansion, people at the time were always much more concerned with whether slavery would be allowed and what that would do to the balance of power in government than they were with what would happen to the indigenous populations. The relative attention in both historical and modern contexts is probably due to relative population sizes.

Perhaps because the slaves were not routinely massacring whites and torturing them to death, as the American Indians were. That turned public opinion against them, although there was considerable sympathy for them on the East Coast once it was clear they were "beaten".

Cromwell's adherents had moved from the degenerate and immoral London of the 17th century to the New World in order to follow their religion without the influence of neighboring Catholics or Anglicans. Their attitude and practices toward the indigenous were developed from those similar to the lethal ones they used against the Irish. The Puritans were competitive with anyone in the art of massacre, especially in foreign locales like North America and Ireland. The native Americans, on the other hand, were defending their homeland. Torture was used as a means to discourage their invaders, just as other kinds of torture are used even today to discourage bad behavior.

Let me correct the above: ancient Sparta had a huge slave population and its situation may have been comparable in some respects to the Deep South. However, there is still the key difference that slavery was not so heavily intertwined with plantation agriculture and the production of cash crops.

I think there’s the pleasant picture of the educated roman slave in charge of his master’s domus and helping him run the business with his accounting skills.
There were also many slaves working in the gold and sliver mines or in agriculture in punitive conditions.
In Pompei under the ashes were found gang of slaves chained together in death as in life.

+1; if Roman had come across territories which were literally depopulated to 5% by disease, would they have set up slave latifunda there, where slaves were 90%+ of the population?

Of course they would.

Jefferson was complicated, indeed. See, for example, his rather enlightened views on Native Americans, which are difficult to reconcile with his record on slavery.

But also, the Declaration was partly drafted by committee. Franklin and Adams, who both opposed slavery at the time, had a hand in drafting the document.

How "enlightened" were Jefferson's views on native Americans and in what way did he translate those views into concrete actions?

Do you think Jefferson's single-handedly discovered the American continent, subdued the Indians, created the African slave trade?

If not, it's a completely different question.

If he was born into a world where all that was status quo, it actually shows some creative thinking to recognize the injustice of it all.

Face it, the dude was BLM.

He was, in the true meaning of BLM, or maybe blm. And +1 on recognizing people must be judged by the standards of their time, not today's.


First of all the passage is important because it shows how deeply controversial slavery was in colonial America, both before and after the Revolution.

Second, the fact that Jefferson owned slaves does not immediately make him a hypocrite, because, as you say he was born into a world where that was the status quo. He was at least able to question it, if not take the further step of advocating it's abolition. As the fact that it was deleted reveals , it was not very "PC" at the time to publicly speak out against slavery. What he should be criticized for is not so much being a hypocrite, but not having the courage of his convictions in that respect. I suppose at the time, taking on the British monarchy was going far enough. Taking on slavery at the same time would have been a bit too radical.

There was a fair amount of public anti-slavery talk in the 1760s-1780s, even by the economic/political elites. Aaron Burr wrote pamphlets against slavery (yet owned slaves most of adult life).

The unity of the Southern voters on this issue insured the government had many Southern-oriented administrations. Its hard to tell if people failed to follow through or believed it was not worth doing.

He viewed them as intellectual equals to whites. But he wanted them to adopt western culture and farming practices. By today's standards, his views are obviously problematic. But at the time they were rather enlightened. I don't think he translated these views into any concrete action while in office. But I'd have to double check that.

Right. And this was a man who owned slaves, even. It's interesting that he was able to see his slaves as intellectual equals. I wonder if that has something to do with him personally, or some insight that was common to most slaveowners. Obviously, most slaves were kept uneducated , but many people were nevertheless able to recognize innate intelligence. Maybe the fact that slaves were secretly teaching themselves to read and so forth was a clue.

The desire to keep slaves uneducated was motivated, to a large degree, by the Nat Turner revolt. Many people wanted their slaves trained and religious education (reading included) was often encouraged. For example, Washington wanted highly skilled workers for his plantation. The preference was for vocational education but that was also true for most whites of the era. The fear of slave revolt and abolitionist outreach to slaves caused the widespread crackdown on education after the Nat Turner revolt.

Thomas Jefferson (and the rest of the Founding Fathers) have contributed more to the liberty and prosperity of today's Native Americans (and Black Americans) than any of today's pro-minority political activists.

Criticizing Jefferson not abolishing slavery is like criticizing Newton not coming up with relativity theory. Now we do things our ancestors could not do. There are many current issues we should focus on.

The Confederate States did not peacefully go along their own way, they attacked American property first. And received exactly the treatment every attacker of the U.S. has learned to expect in return.

You're correct. Mess with the US and atomic bombs will fall on your teen-age daughters walking to school.

Guess what? Don't attack the U.S., and you won't have to face that reality. And don't forget the babies whose eyeballs melted before they died too.

they attacked American property first.

American property? Wasn't Fort Sumter actually located in South Carolina, once a crown colony of the United Kingdom but previous to that an unorganized, in Anglo terms, home to native Americans? Wasn't Fort Sumter shelled by the South Carolina State Militia, not the Confederate Army?

It was a federal military installation. You're not allowed to shell those.

"exactly the treatment every attacker of the U.S. has learned to expect"

Except Saudi Arabia, obviously (9/11).
Or, come to that, Israel (USS Liberty).

Except he is dead.

And you forgot the Pueblo, which is unfortunate considering it is still listed as a commissioned USN vessel. (The SS Mayaguez was a private merchant vessel when seized by Cambodia).

I didn't forget the Pueblo. I'd never heard of it. Thank you for adding another to the list.

There must surely have been one or two more. Anyone?

The Russians who paid for the murder of American soldiers?

Russian Conspiratards Activate!


... the Confederate States absolutely wanted a peaceful exit.

Evil Lincoln deliberately plotted a severe provocation at Fort Sumter -- to prod the South into firing the first shot.

Sumter was a Federal center of the hated excise tax; abusive taxes and Federal bullying were THE primary causes of the Civil War, slavery was secondary.

Lincoln's brazen Sumter "reinforcement" was strongly opposed by his Cabinet ... who correctly saw it as a dangerous provocation.

Except the government of South Carolina went to the trouble of documenting the reasons why they were seceding and, sure enough, that document makes no mention of federal taxes or duties.

Moreover, the 1860 Census established that South Carolina was a majority-slave state (as was Mississippi). The idea that slavery was "secondary" fails common sense.

Well, yes, they wanted a peaceful exit ... in which they got to keep their slaves.

When you adopt the apologists' spin for the Civil War, you ought to stop and think what are your motivations. You are in the same wagon as the people in the 1920s to 1950s putting up statutes to the great Southern Civil War leaders. Its denials all the way down.

Comparisons being at least as inevitable as odious, who's up for a round of "Historical Analogy" this fine 4th of July?

Are the American Tech Tyrants of 2020 more like: 1) Jefferson's reviled kings and princes of Great Britain (their client aristocrats and cavaliers, along with a lone generation of Puritan regicides), who indeed imposed slavery on the American colonies to make them suitably profitable across America's Colonial Era? or 2) Southern slaveowners like Jefferson himself who found enough economic incentives to institutionalize the practices of slavery for the cultivation of rice, indigo, tobacco, cotton, and sugar? or 3) first English then Northern slave traders who operated the commerce in trans-Atlantic shipping for their purchases of Caribbean molasses which they could return to New England distilleries to manufacture into the rum with which to purchase slaves for sale?

Who might America's Tech Tyrants of 2020 be most like in terms of imposing or dictating strict expectations of profitability, in producing marketable goods and commodities for consumer markets or in terms of extracting considerable profits from the forced labors and on the backs of perennial "victims of history"?

I write comments, not to other readers but to Cowen and Tabarrok (whether they read them is another matter). It's blog posts like this one that I have to remind myself.

Alex, I just checked and at least on July 4, 2016, Tyler ended a post

with a Happy Fourth of July!

Yours is the third post today and neither Tyler nor you have wished your readers a Happy Fourth of July!

Although I'm not American and I live in Chile, I'm surprised that you prefer to ignore the meaning of Independence Day. I take Tyler's remembrance of Mt Rushmore as an elitist's rejection of popular monuments, quite different from Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the anthem. Now your post on a deleted clause of the Declaration of Independence is good for a debate about how the question of slavery was addressed at the time of Independence, but it looks like Kaepernick's refusal: a gesture to call attention to something you consider important but at the wrong time.

I hope you soon start a serious discussion about slavery and its abolition in world history.

I'm not asking this to make a point for or against Jefferson, but for more information. The deleted clause seems to pertain to the slave trade: the enslavement of people in Africa and their transportation to the Americas. In my cynical heart, I have to wonder whether some of the opposition to this came from domestic slave breeders who hoped to boost their profits by eliminating a source of competition. Was slave-breeding a major enterprise in the 1770s, or did it not become a force to contend with until the King Cotton era?

In the 1730s and again in 1760 there were slave revolts in Jamaica that would have been known in Colonial America. Slave revolts were a common fear in the South. By condemning slavery, he appeals to anti-slavery elements in the colonies. By warning of the dangers of a slave revolt, he warns the South that the King can turn the slaves against them.

Tens of thousands of slaves (estimated) did fight for the British during the Revoluntary War.

Slavery should never have been allowed. Once allowed the value of slaves was too great to for appeals to morality to overcome. Even many of the more liberal leaders of the day were uncertain of what to do with the slaves if they were given their freedom. The North could not afford to buy and release the slaves. The economic system of the South was too dependent. Slavery did die out in the rest of the world. Perhaps it would have in the South. Instead by some estimates 750,000 people died to end it.

> Slavery should never have been allowed.

But it was very common throughout the world when it took hold in the US. One of the founding members of Jamestown, John Smith, had previously been enslaved for years while part of a Christian army fighting the Turks.

> Once allowed the value of slaves was too great to for appeals to morality to overcome.

Wrong. A plantation in the south was a poor investment compared to factory in the north. Slavery was a lazy way for a slave owner to make a living. It was not lucrative.

> Slavery did die out in the rest of the world.

Today, advocacy groups claim more than 40M are enslaved world wide currently. Most are working for families for nothing and are not allowed to leave. Many are part of the sex trade. Slavery has been with us forever, and will likely be with us in some form forever.

It was white people, fueled by enlightenment, that decided "this isn't good" that banned slavery first. And that didn't just start with the declaration of independence. The early 1700s had several regions of the future US banning slavery.

The rest of the world (aka non white people) took a long, long time to get on board with this.

Professor Fogel would disagree about the profitability of slavery.

Slavery continues mostly as criminal enterprises. Not state-sanctioned. Nothing to accept as a natural state of affairs.


> Professor Fogel would disagree about the profitability of slavery.

There's a book (free, online) written in 1857 by Hinton Rowan Helper that examines in a few hundred pages the economic position of the north versus the south.

The examples are numerous. But on page 52, just to pick one, the hay crop value of the free states exceed that of cotton, tobacco, rice, hay and hemp of the slave states.

On and on the author goes, looking at livestock, wealth, land, etc...for 400 pages. Complete with detailed information that will make you wonder how much time and effort it took to amass and tally the data without excel.

in short, the south was an economic loser versus the north. The north was an economic powerhouse. Slavery died, just as kings withered and went away, because they economic models from both were losers.

I mean, if the North's hay crop alone exceeded the value of the south's cotton, tobacco, rice, hay and hemp....what on earth is the point?

Fogel pointed out slavery was profitable and was crucified for it. But he also pointed out that slavery wasn't nearly as profitable as what the north was practicing.

It used to believed that having a king, with millions of serfs toiling away and giving most of their output to the king, was a good model. It was not. Capitalism crushed feudalism just as it crushed slavery. They are broken economic models.

British brought slavery to North America. Ironic that Jefferson should protest it. But he was always telling people to do as I say, not as I do.
True Democrat.

I'd argue it was the Portugese. Although plenty of native societies practiced slavery.

And definitely not a Federalist.

i think various commentators are correct. This is a clause re the salve trade, not slavery itself. One can hardly blame Geoarge for embracing slavery when slavery in the UK was illegal
"After reading about Somersett's Case, Joseph Knight, an enslaved African who had been purchased by his master John Wedderburn in Jamaica and brought to Scotland, left him. Married and with a child, he filed a freedom suit, on the grounds that he could not be held as a slave in Great Britain. In the case of Knight v. Wedderburn (1778), Wedderburn said that Knight owed him "perpetual servitude". The Court of Sessions of Scotland ruled against him, saying that chattel slavery was not recognised under the law of Scotland, and slaves could seek court protection to leave a master or avoid being forcibly removed from Scotland to be returned to slavery in the colonies.[42]

Certainly one of the most devious and hypocritical of Jefferson's many purely political statements. One must admire his significant role in the formulation of ever so many dimensions of the American credo. But it doesn't require a very deep reading of the sources to see this for what it is: a crass, or clever, or both (?) ploy to satisfy the south by introducing a resolution he knew would be certainly defeated. Far too much ink has been spilled here on this, My apologies.

I would say it shows that Jefferson disliked slavery but once established how do you unwind it from American society. He drafted laws to stop the importation of new slaves. He drafted laws to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories. He didn't think the government could take slaves from slaveholders but he hoped that slavery would die out. He thought that stopping the importation of new slaves would end slavery in time. He was wrong.

Jefferson also discouraged the cultivation of crops that depended on slave labor. That failed. He sought to improve the living conditions and advocated humane treatment. He proposed that those born into slavery could be freed at a certain date. Regretfully many pro-slavery advocates felt that improving conditions for slaves was the only reform needed.

Jefferson was not an integrationist. He feared the freeing the slaves could lead to a race war. He looked to the slave revolts of the Caribbean as a warning of the potential dangers of the pent up anger of the slaves against their former masters.

This writing by Jefferson shows those two sides. He disliked slavery and wished to abolish it. He feared that the slavery issue could destroy the union. Yet he also feared what would happen if the slaves were emancipated. At the time he wrote this there were perhaps 250,00 slaves in the colonies. Jefferson wanted a plan to free the slaves and send them to Africa or the West Indies. He did not think that the freed slaves and their former masters could live in peace together. Simply, Jefferson hated slavery but he was unsure how to safely end it.

If you like, Jefferson saw slavery as a cancer that the King brought to the colonies and that the removal of that cancer could not easily be accomplished without injuring the host. For Jefferson, emancipation without deportation risked a race war.

And it seems like he was wrong. Sure, we can’t see the counterfactual of whether a race war would have happened if the slaves were released at the founding. But they were released after the civil war and the former slaves didn’t violently rise up against their former masters. Instead, the white majority did their best to keep the former slaves in their place.

Who knows. But you also had an occupation army during reconstruction. Riots did occur in some areas. The KKK did surface as a shadow government. Violence did occur.

I don't think Jefferson could imagine Federal Troops and Constitutional Amendments supporting and to a degree protecting former Black slaves into public office etc. Jefferson wanted to end slavery but I don't think he or many of his contemporaries saw the day that Blacks would earn full citizenship. I don't think Jefferson would have predicted a Federal Government using troops to occupy the South to enforce a new order. Nor do I think he imagined a KKK shadow government. The slaughter and destruction of the Civil War were hard to foresee. The aftermath was unimaginable in 1776.

This isn't exactly news to those of us old enough to remember the musical "1776"--later adapted into a movie--in which perhaps the most enduring number ("Molasses to Rum to Slaves") is the one in which Rutledge of South Carolina eloquently and calmly excoriates Adams for his moral posturing on the issue using a fine economic (!) analysis of the so-called "Triangle Trade."

The thorny problem of slavery and the slave trade in particular was not one in which only the South was implicated: New England merchants and shippers were deeply entangled in its coils as well.

But it is a regrettable but nevertheless unavoidable fact that--had the Declaration taken a strong stance against slavery--there would have been no Declaration, no independence, and no United States, with or without slavery.

To put this in perspective: should the United States have allied with Great Stalin--a butcher who puts the entire history of slavery in this country in the shade--during World War 2? You can certainly make many arguments that we should not, on similar moral grounds.

But it is very likely that--had we not done so--the Nazis would still be running most of Europe and threatening us. No way of knowing, of course...but that's the ultimate learning from this whole discussion.

Man, there's no time I miss SSC more than when the MR comments. It's like if you tried to have a serious conversation in a mental institution, while the inmates screamed back at the little voices or held forth about their particular bit of nuttery every couple minutes.

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