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colonies in 1776, and the number in 1790, according to the census
of that year:
In New Hampshire
600 4,600 3,800 4,000 15,000 8,000 5,000 6,000 74,000 220,000 74,000 70,000 15,000
952 2,753 21,324 11,423 3,737
8,887 103,036 305,257 103,989 107,094 29,264
697,880 At the time of the declaration of indepencence, in 1776, tho African slave trade was in full operation, and do nation of the earth had taken any measures for its abolition. It was not abolished by the British Parliament until March 1807, and the act of Congress to abolish it took effect in January 1808.
At the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, negroes were held, bought and sold as slaves, and universally regarded as property in each of the thirteen colonies; and such was the case also in all the states, except Massachusetts, at the time of the adoption of the federal constitution in 1788. At the former period, there were about half a million African slaves in the United States, and nearly seven hundred thousand at the the latter period—all of whom were regarded and treated as property. Such are the facts and circumstances, by the light of which the declaration and constitution of the United States should be interpreted.
The Pennsylvania Abolition Society, was founded by the Quakers in 1780 : Benjamin Franklin was its first President, and Benjamin Rush its first Secretary. "The New York Manumission Society was for ned in 1785,-John Jay being its first President, and Alexander Hamilton his successor. Similar associations were also formed in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, Those societies exerted a strong influence in favor of the abolition of slavery in several northern states.'
Vermont passed an act for the gradual abolition of slavery in 1777, before she was recognized as a state. Pennsylvania, in 1780, passed an act prohibiting the further introduction of slaves, and gave freedom to all persons thereafter born in the state. Connecticut and Rhode Island, passed similar acts in 1784.
Massachusetts adopted her first constitution in 1780, with a bill of rights, the first article of which was borrowed from the Declaration of Independence-declaring that “ All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.” The Supreme Court of the state decided that the adoption of that article emancipated immediately all the slaves in the state. † The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence constituted the germ of all the anti slavery movements in the United States, and in Europe.
In 1799, the Legislature of New York passed an act providing that slaves thereafter born should be fres—the males at 28, and the females at 24 years of age. In 1804, New Jersey passed a similar act, for the gradual abolition of slavery. But none of the states ever provided any compensation to the slaveholder for the loss of his slaves. At the census of 1820 there were still in Rhode Island 48 slaves ; in Connecticut 97; in New York 10,088; in New Jersey 7,557; in Pennsylvania 211; in Indiana 190; and in Illinois 917.
Time greatly abated Mr. Jefferson's zeal for the abolition of slavery. In 1776 he introduced into the Declaration of Independence the first germ of abolition, which took root in all the Northern States, in England, and on the continent of Europe. In 1784 he wrote the provision for the prohibition of slavery, afterwards in. corporated into the famous ordinance of 1787. While he was President he purchased of Napoleon the province of Louisiana, with a small French and Spanish population of about 30,000 at New Orleans, and on the Mississippi river and its tributaries, with a few thousand slaves. In 1804 an act of Congress was passed to organise a government for the then territory of Orleans, (now the State of Louisiana); and in 1805 Congress passed an act to organize a territorial government for Louisiana Territory, comprising the remaining part of the purchase of Napoleon. Slavery then existed in each of those territories. In and by those acts, Congress in express words ratified and confirmed the laws then in force in each of those terri. tories, and thereby directly recognised, ratified, and confirmed slavery in each of them; and Mr. Jefferson approved the acts—whereby Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas became slave states. Mr. Jefferson then had the power to have provided for the gradual abolition of slavery in those territories, and could thereby have made each of those states a free state. Why did he not do it ? Had time and observation worked any change in his opinions of slavery, and the practicability and expediency of its abolition? How can his change of action be accounted for ? Sec. 10. ACTION OF CONGRESS, DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, AND
* New American Cyclopedia, vol. 14, p 711. + New American Cyclopedia, vol. 11, p, 271, and vol. 14, p. 710 to 711,
ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. The various restrictions upon the industry, the burthens imposed upon the American Colonies, by the British government, and, numerous infringements of their rights, induced them to confer together, and finally led to an Assembly or Congress of deputies from nine Colonies, which met at New York, October 7th, 1705, to consult together for the protection of their common rights and interests. That Congress continued in session nearly three weeks, until the 25th of October, and among other things adopted a petition to the British Parliament for a redress of grievances.
For similar purposes, the first general Continental Congress of the American Colonies met at Philadelphia, September 5th, 1774. That Congress, (among other measures), adopted a declaration of Colonial rights, and a petition to the King and Parliament of Grcat Britain.
The second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia, May 10, 1775.
On the 7th of June, 1776, a resolution was introduced by Mr. Lee, of Virginia, " That these Colonies are and of right ought to be, free and independent States——that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown--and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be, to tally dissolved.”
The resolution was laid on the table for future consideration, and a committee of five was appointed to draft and report a Declaration of Independence, consisting of
Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia,
Robert R. Livingston, of New York. On the 20th of June, 1776, the committee reported to Congress the draft of a Declaration of Independence, which was read and laid on the table.
On the first day of July, the resolution of June 7th was called up for consideration and was debated and passed the next day, July 2d; whereby Congress declared the then thirteen American Colonies, free and independent States, and absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown.
The next day, July 3d, Congress called for consideration the Declaration of Independence reported by the committee; which was slightly amended and finally passed and signed by the delegates from eleven of the Colonies, on the following day, (July 4th, 1776.) It was immediately published and hailed with demonstrations of great joy throughout the country.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the nations of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of uature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the cousent of the govarned ; and that, whenever any form of government becomes do
structive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments, long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are suferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the colonies, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former system of government. The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having, in direct object, the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:
He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operations till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature-a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the repository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his
He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions of the rights of the people.
He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise ;