Twitter Thread: "He has waged cruel War against human Nature itself...: Annette Gordon-Reed @agordonreed: "So many of the grievances in the Declaration could be challenged. Heck, the whole enterprise of presenting themselves as having been oppressed/enslaved by the British was wifty...
...To have a foundational document describe the evil of what had happened to Africans could have been quite meaningful. Think of the use that has been made of “all men are created equal” as an affirmation. In the understandable zeal to catch TJ out on hypocrisy, historians have missed the recognition of the violation of the human rights of Africans. We can go on and on about whether TJ sincerely believed these things, as if American history were some gigantic revival meeting. But words matter, and sincerity is overrated...
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. This piratical Warfare, the opprobrium of infidel Powers, is the Warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.
He has prostituted his Negative for Suppressing every legislative Attempt to prohibit or to restrain an execrable Commerce, determined to keep open a Markett where Men should be bought and sold, 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 their Liberty of which he has deprived them, by 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."
There is no doubt that he sincerely believed all this, is there?
The problem with it rhetorically (which is only a very small part of the problem with it morally) is that it requires an extra paragraph: "He tempted us, and we fell, and now we are in a horrible spot. And now he is trying to make their and our situation worse by sparking a servile insurrection, with all its bloody and terrible consequences, upon these shores".
But I do not know if he could say that paragraph, even to himself in his heart. And certainly the Constitutional Convention would not say it.
Indeed, we all know there was great concern in Massachusetts as to just what sort of society they were allying themselves with: Abigail Adams:
What sort of Defence Virginia can make against our common Enemy? Whether it is so situated as to make an able Defence? Are not the Gentery Lords and the common people vassals, are they not like the uncivilized Natives Brittain represents us to be? I hope their Riffel Men who have shewen themselves very savage and even Blood thirsty; are not a specimen of the Generality of the people...