What Did The Original Draft of The Declaration of Independence Say About Slavery?
In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson (he was the main drafter) mentioned Slavery as an ‘Abominable Crime’ against humanity.
Even, Jefferson blamed that the crime against humanity was brought by the British authority to the 13 colonies of North America.
Especially he referred; the British King George III was responsible for encouraging the cruelty through the Atlantic ocean.
In the first draft, he stated something like this:
“He has 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….”
However, it feels a little strange because though he criticized slavery and defined it as an ‘Abominable crime’; but Jefferson himself was a slaveholder.
Even, Jeff continued keeping slaves throughout his whole life.
Let me tell you another thing, he was not the only one, but most of the leaders of the Continental Congress used to keep slaves at their homes and other working places.
[Interesting Fact: Did You Know? Thomas Jefferson Owned 600 Slaves During The Course of His Whole Life. However, He Was Not Brutal With His Slaves. Owning Slaves Was Like A Compulsion For Jefferson Because He Was Born In A Slave Based Society. Even After All These, He Tried Many Times To End Slavery From The 13 Colonies; Not Only Through The Declaration But Also Bringing Laws To Prevent More Slaves Importation. In 1778, He Wrote A Law To Prevent More Slaves Importation To Virginia]
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Does This Mean That Slavery Came To An End Through The Declaration?
No, the Declaration of Independence didn’t include Thomas Jefferson’s words on slavery.
They had to remove the complete phase in case of appeasing states like Virginia and South Carolina.
At that time it was a very sensitive matter. The founding fathers didn’t want to take any risks to make the revolution weaker.
Its main reason was – during the time, the economy of the 13 colonies’ deeply dependent upon slavery; especially, in the southern part of the 13 colonies.
So, freeing slaves meant an attempt to destruct the economy. Either way, they knew very well that it would make colonists slaveholders offend.
Secondly, this controversial issue would require a lot of time to discuss and come to a proper decision. But at that time, Congress had many other necessary issues to solve.
As a result, they didn’t focus on it and America had to wait a few decades more (till Civil War) to end the inhumanity completely.
That’s why, though the declaration mentioned a lot about all human beings’ equality, freedom, and justice; but they failed in freeing slaves.
[Interesting Fact: The Declaration of Independence Mentioned Life, Liberty And The Pursuit of Happiness As All Human Beings’ Natural Rights; But When The Issue of Slavery Came In Front of The Continental Congress, They Decided To Abandon The Slaves From Getting The Natural Rights. For This Reason, Many People Also Criticize This Historical Document]
The Necessity of Slaves In The Southern States
Compared to the Northern states of the 13 colonies, the Southern states were highly dependent upon slavery.
Largely, those states’ economies relied upon agriculture (rice, tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, etc), and therefore, landowners needed slaves for doing jobs in agro fields.