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Slavery in American and the Declaration of Independence

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The promise found in the Declaration of Independence that are men are created equal must today be viewed with the caveat that those who conferred legitimacy it was convinced that blacks held no claim to the same rights as whites and so there was no necessity to qualify the promise of universal equality within the document. The draft of the Declaration of Independence that was handed over by Jefferson, Adams, and Benjamin Franklin go the Continental Congress for approval originally contained a quite long passage directly calling to question the very institution of slavery. "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" (Higginbotham 381). This passage is not to be found on the official Declaration, of course, because representatives to the Continental Congress from the southern slaveholding states quickly colluded to express objection to its potential harm to their economic interests once the shackles of British rule had been successfully thrown off. In the final version of the Declaration, references to the institution of slavery are still expressed, but only in a manner that specifically accuses the British of inciting the slaves to revolt against their owners. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and most of the members of the Continental Congress had historically expressed in no uncertain terms before it came to write a declaration for independence based on the radical concept that all men were created equal their belief that a righteous difference existed between the rights of whites and the rights of blacks. John Adams went so far as to write the God Himself has "never intended the American colonists ‘for Negroes and therefore never intended us for slaves" (Breen 202). When the phrase "all men are created equal" is found in the Declaration, therefore, it is actually is truer than it may at first glance appear. The intention of the Declaration of Independence was to spur not blacks to fight for independence and equality, but for whites to fight for the suspension of the class rule that had dominated European civilization for centuries. Jefferson and the other founding fathers did not write or approve the Declaration as a means to give hope to slaves that the American Revolution was going to bring them freedom, or that it would endow freed blacks with anything even approaching equality. Jefferson’s incitement of the proposition that all men are created equal was at the time sheer propaganda directed specifically toward white colonists whom the revolutionaries needed to buy the idea that business as usual in Europe for millennia was not the future of the coming new country. Jefferson’s use of the words "all men are created equal" can actually be seen more a threat to the grounded ideals of the aristocracy.