Scrapped Declaration Of Independence Passage Denounced Slavery
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
History is full of footnotes and missed opportunities. Thomas Jefferson gets the credit for writing the Declaration of Independence, but it wasn't his work alone. He was on a committee of five appointed by the Continental Congress on June 11, 1776. With Jefferson - John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. Jefferson wrote a rough draft and presented it to the other four. Seventeen days later, they presented their draft to the Continental Congress. There were edits, debates then final approval on, yes, July 4. Most of the changes to the document were cosmetic except one. In the list of grievances against King George III, there was a section denouncing slavery. It was penned by Jefferson, a slave owner, and part of it went like this...
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) 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 and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.
MARTIN: The sentiments did not go over well with the Southern delegates, and some Northern delegates, who were profiting from the slave trade. The paragraph was dropped, and the rest is history. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.