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WTF, Sean Wilentz, Victoria Bynum, James M. McPherson, James Oakes, and Gordon S. Wood?!?!?!: Sean Wilentz, Victoria Bynum, James M. McPherson, James Oakes, and Gordon S. Wood: Letter to the Editor: Historians Critique The 1619 Project https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/magazine/letter-to-the-editor-historians-critique-the-1619-project-and-we-respond.html: 'On the American Revolution, pivotal to any account of our history, the project asserts that the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain “in order to ensure slavery would continue.” This is not true. If supportable, the allegation would be astounding—yet every statement offered by the project to validate it is false...

But... but... but... but:

Jill Lepore: These Truths: A History of the United States https://books.google.com/books?id=v2ZSDwAAQBAJ: '“It is imagined our Governor has been tampering with the Slaves & that he has it in contemplation to make great Use of them in case of a civil war,” young James Madison reported from Virginia to his friend William Bradford in Philadelphia. Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, intended to offer freedom to slaves who would join the British army. “To say the truth, that is the only part in which this colony is vulnerable,” Madison admitted, “and if we should be subdued, we shall fall like Achilles by the hand of one that knows that secret.”64 But the colonists’ vulnerability to slave rebellion, that Achilles’ heel, was hardly a secret: it defined them. Madison’s own grandfather, Ambrose Madison, who’d first settled Montpelier, had been murdered by slaves in 1732, apparently poisoned to death, when he was thirty-six...

...In Madison’s county, slaves had been convicted of poisoning their masters again in 1737 and 1746: in the first case, the convicted man was decapitated, his head placed atop a pole outside the courthouse “to deter others from doing the Like”; in the second, a woman named Eve was burned alive.65 Their bodies were made into monuments. No estate was without this Achilles’ heel.

George Washington’s slaves had been running away at least since 1760. At least forty-seven of them fled at one time or another. In 1763, a twenty-three-year-old man born in Gambia became Washington’s property; Washington named him Harry and sent him to work draining a marsh known as the Great Dismal Swamp. In 1771, Harry Washington managed to escape, only to be recaptured. In November 1775, he was grooming his master’s horses in the stables at Mount Vernon when Lord Dunmore made the announcement that Madison had feared: he offered freedom to any slaves who would join His Majesty’s troops in suppressing the American rebellion.

In Cambridge, where George Washington was assembling the Continental army, he received a report about the slaves at Mount Vernon. “There is not a man of them but would leave us if they believed they could make their escape,” Washington’s cousin reported that winter, adding, “Liberty is sweet.”68 Harry Washington bided his time, but he would soon join the five hundred men who ran from their owners and joined Dunmore’s forces, a number that included a man named Ralph, who ran away from Patrick Henry, and eight of the twenty-seven people owned by Peyton Randolph, who had served as president of the First Continental Congress. Edward Rutledge, a member of South Carolina’s delegation to the Continental Congress, said that Dunmore’s declaration did “more effectually work an eternal separation between Great Britain and the Colonies—than any other expedient which could possibly have been thought of.”70 Not the taxes and the tea, not the shots at Lexington and Concord, not the siege of Boston; rather, it was this act, Dunmore’s offer of freedom to slaves, that tipped the scales in favor of American independence....

“All men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity,” read the Virginia Declaration of Rights and Form of Government, drafted in May 1776 by brazen George Mason.... Mason’s original draft hadn’t included the clause about rights being acquired by men “when they enter into a state of society”; these words were added after members of the convention worried that the original would “have the effect of abolishing” slavery.76 If all men belonging to civil society are free and equal, how can slavery be possible? It must be, Virginia’s convention answered, that Africans do not belong to civil society, having never left a state of nature....

In August 1776, one month after delegates to the Continental Congress determined that in the course of human events it sometimes becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands which have connected them with another, Harry Washington declared his own independence by running away from Mount Vernon to fight with Dunmore’s regiment, wearing a white sash stitched with the motto “Liberty to Slaves.” During the war, nearly one in five slaves in the United States left their homes, fleeing American slavery in search of British liberty.... Not many succeeded in reaching the land where liberty reigned, or even in getting behind British battle lines. Instead, they were caught and punished. One slave owner who captured a fifteen-year-old girl who was heading for Dunmore’s regiment punished her with eighty lashes and then poured hot embers into the gashes...

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#history #moralresponsibility #noted #2019-12-27

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