The Original draft of the Declaration of Independence
In the summer of 1776, the 13 colonies were already engaged in a battle for independence from England. These 13, separate colonies sent representatives to Philadelphia, known as the Continental Congress, where it was decided that in order to engage in a war with England and come out as victors, they must be united in purpose and dedication. These 13 colonies of America became The United States of America.
The Continental Congress needed to draft a declaration of independence from the rule of King George. Those charged with the responsibility to write the declaration was Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. It was first suggested that John Adams would be the scribe for the declaration, but he knew that he was not well liked by many of the representatives, so Thomas Jefferson was chosen to pen the document. Jefferson was one of the most educated men in the Congress and liked by many. It took 17 days for the group of 5 men to write the declaration.
There are 24 grievances to the king in the original declaration, one of which focuses on taxation without representation.
I want to focus on another part of the first draft of the declaration- the most important part, in my opinion. In the original draft of the Declaration of Independence the longest grievance listed is all about slavery. And no, it is not in defense for it.
The words penned by Jefferson will teach us exactly what he, and many others, thought about slavery during this time-
he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life & 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 to 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, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
Let’s take a look at this piece by piece.