Why Was The Passage About Slavery Removed From The Declaration of Independence?


Why Was The Passage About Slavery Removed From The Declaration of Independence?

The passage about slavery was removed or deleted from the Declaration of Independence because back then it was a very controversial matter.

Chances were high, this controversy could have weakened the Revolutionary War by dividing slaveholders on one side and non-slaveholders on the other side.

Answer In Short:

  • The Continental Congress had no time to debate over this controversial issue. For them, slavery was not that important as the other issues were.
  • Congress’s leaders were afraid of offending slaveholders.
  • The issue could have led Southern states like Georgia, South Carolina to completely abandon the revolution.
  • Colonists’ leaders didn’t want to take any risk of losing the chance of achieving freedom from British rule.

Let me explain to you briefly, why and how?


Description – Why Was The Passage About Slavery Removed From The Declaration of Independence?

1. Economic Cause: At the time when the Revolutionary War of the 13 North American colonies was going on, machines were not used so much in the production system of America.

The boom of the Industrial Revolution had yet some time to touch the continent.

Therefore people here still relied upon human labor for the production; for fulfilling it, people mostly used Black slaves captured from the African continent.

All in all, we can say the 13 colonies’ economies were fully dependent upon slavery.

Especially, we found the Southern states’ economies had deep reliance on it. Such states were South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, etc.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson drafted the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, where he tried to raise the issue.

As the Declaration described all human beings’ life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; he also had to include slaves’ issues too.

He mentioned it as an abominable crime against humanity and blamed the British government and King George III for encouraging it through the transatlantic.

When other delegates reviewed his draft, they decided to remove the clause because the issue could have offended colonies’ slaveholders and pushed them to withdraw their support from the Revolutionary War.

Congress acquired appeasing policy towards slaveholders instead of offending them.

Which Statement Best Explains Why The Declaration of Independence Does Not Directly Address The Issue of Slavery

2. Continental Congress Was So Busy: The Second Continental Congress was so busy that they had no time to discuss the issue.

They considered slavery as an unnecessary issue, which would require a lot of time to get discussed.

3. Congress’s Delegates Didn’t Want To Take Any Risk: For the Second Continental Congress’s delegates, independence of the 13 colonies was far more important than any other issue.

They gained the opportunity of achieving independence after a lot of hard work and therefore they didn’t want to lose this opportunity at any cost.

They knew slavery was a controversial issue and this could have weakened the Revolutionary War by dividing colonists into two groups.

When they found the phrase Jefferson added in the first draft of the Declaration, they immediately remove it from the document for not offending slaveholders.


Did You Know?

1. Though Thomas Jefferson criticized slavery in the Declaration of Independence, but Jefferson himself was a lifelong slaveholder.

He owned around 600 slaves during his whole life. However, he was not brutal with his slaves.

2. The Declaration of Independence talked a lot about all human beings’ life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but ironically, it failed to provide these similar rights to the slaves.

For this drawback, this great document also faces a lot of criticism. 

3. After the Declaration of Independence, in 1778, Thomas Jefferson also wrote a law for his home state Virginia to prevent more slave importation.


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