Seeking a More Perfect Union: Tales from Jefferson's Anti-Slavery Crisis

Chapter 1: The Origin
Hello. I am going to post story lines and vignettes from my timeline Jefferson's Anti-Slavery Crisis. (You can find it in my signature). I had a blast writing the lore, and I am thinking of writing more stories. Here is the first.

I. Crisis at the Continental Congress

The delegates from thirteen colonies were trying to write the Declaration of Independence, which would declare independence from the British Empire. The air was as hot and as stagnant as the tense atmosphere inside the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The delegates of thirteen colonies who hated their British overlords were trying to form a document that would declare their independence from the British Empire. An enormous list of complaints about the British control, from taxation without representation to the quartering of soldiers in peoples’ homes in peacetime, had set the colonists on a breaking point. One of the biggest controversies in that Continental Congress prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 was about slavery. Many of the Founders thought slavery antithetical to the liberty the newly born United States of America needed from Britain. The shackles of slavery seemed very similar to those shackles that kept the colonies subservient to the British Empire. But not everyone thought that way. Southerners thought they needed slavery to work the plantations. They were opposed to ending slavery, and in many cases, even opposed to criticizing slavery.


Part of the important content that sparked the divide.

“While slavery is often seen as a necessary evil, it is anathema to the new birth of freedom that we are trying to achieve in the United States of America when we declare independence from Great Britain. An enslavement of one is a threat to the liberty of all. The British King and Parliament have forced this wretched institution upon us near the inception of the colonies—this is something unforgivable. While you might accuse me of hypocrisy, I am not thinking of removing slavery right now, only that we realize its ability to cause problems for liberty. After all, this is not the document for our nation—that will come later.”

Most of the delegates were in agreement, and their colonies—now defined as states—would join them, having long been sick of the various abuses perpetrated by the British crown. These states would become the building blocks of a new nation. However, rumblings arose from the delegates from the Carolinas and Georgia. Two of the Georgia delegates even ran out of the convention soon after Thomas Jefferson finished talking about slavery. Their names were Lyman Hall and George Walton. So now many of the Founders tried to keep the remaining delegates from the Carolinas and Georgia in. There was a well-known confrontation between Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and the aforementioned southern delegates.

Here is the passage that started such controversy. "This piratical warfare, the opprobirum of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain, determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold. He has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this excreable commerce; and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die..."

Needless to say, the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia candidates did not even like the idea of criticizing slavery.

Lewis Morris started, “Please explain to the Deep South delegates that if we do not hang together, we will hang separately.”

Jefferson and his compatriots attempted to stare down the Deep Southern delegates, but to no success. The air grew even tenser as the Deep Southern delegates and the others stared at each other. The atmosphere seemed almost dead.

“Are you really going to sell your freedom for slavery?”

John Hancock was almost screaming at this point. It didn’t look dignified, but he was furious at the fact that some of these delegates seemed to value liberty so inconsequentially. He was always one for the dramatics—he had the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence, so “no one would need spectacles to know which side he stood on”. Most of the other non-southern delegates seemed impressed with this castigation of the southerners who thought they needed slavery.

The Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina delegates walked away.

Jefferson had one word after they left.

“Cowards.”

Thomas Stone, a delegate from Maryland, spoke nearby

“This is a tragedy. I think we need to finish this Declaration of Independence soon, though. We have no time to waste.”

An almost mournful atmosphere presided the final signing of the Declaration of Independence. The American Revolution was truly on now.

The rebellion would have to continue without the southerners.
 
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