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Jefferson the Abolitionist

Believe it or not, Thomas Jefferson was a committed abolitionist.

His original draft of the Declaration of Independence included a long screed against the slave trade beginning,

“Slavery is a War against human Nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of Life and Liberty by captivating and carrying Africans into Slavery and miserable death.”

It was the ONLY passage of the Declaration removed by a vote of the Continental Congress.

I am not trying to excuse Jefferson’s rank hypocrisy as an abolitionist with humans held as property. Rather, I want to underscore that slavery was not an accepted part of our political culture. In fact, the colony of Georgia OUTLAWED slavery until just before the revolution when King George gave the Habersham family a charter to bring Africans to the colony.

Local German and Swiss farmers objected strongly to bringing in Africans, petitioning the King to reverse his decision. They wrote:

“It is shocking to human Nature that any Race of Mankind and their Posterity should be sentenced to perpetual Slavery.”

The colonists also understood that once Africans were brought in to work for zero wages that they would be impoverished having to compete with the new “plantation system.”

I was taught in school that slavery was simply accepted at the time of the Revolution — and that’s just no so.

The hesitation to abolish slavery led to the horrid “compromise” in the Constitution, allowing enslavement to continue, that would lead directly to our Civil War.

We are re-making our documentary connecting the history of enslavement and vote suppression into a new, expanded film, Vigilantes Inc., America’s New Vote Suppression Hitmen, to launch in September ahead of the Election. We are warning about the new attacks on voting rights — made possible by the enforced historic amnesia about enslavement and Jim Crow imposed by new laws restricting the teaching of history in Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, and beyond.

Join us.

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman

Palast is currently working on a new documentary Long Knife, exposing the Koch Brothers' theft of Osage oil, to be released in 2024.

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