HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » What About the Army Bases... » Reply #38

Response to Telcontar (Reply #35)

Wed Jun 24, 2015, 08:24 AM

38. Several Biographies Are Worth A Read


George Washington's views on the institution of slavery evolved over his lifetime. In his last years, Washington believed slavery was a mistake and should be abolished.

I can recommend several biographies. His Excellency by Ellis is the most comprehensive. IMHO, the best treatment of Washington and slavery comes from Wienchek's An Imperfect God.

A quicker read on the evolution of his views on slavery can be found here:

Influenced by the rhetoric of the American Revolution and constant contact with anti-slavery men from the northern colonies and states, George Washington became increasingly critical of the institution of slavery. Tracing the details of his changing views and the reasons for it may not be possible, but there can be no denying the change. He became increasingly eager to see slavery put on the path toward ultimate extinction, although he cautioned, "Time, education, and patience were needed" in the struggle.



"I never mean (unless some particular circumstance should compel me to it) to possess another slave by purchase; it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted, by which slavery in this country may be abolished by slow, sure, and imperceptible degrees."



After Lafayette purchased in 1786 a plantation in Cayenne to carry out his scheme of emancipating slaves, Washington praised the Frenchman: "Would to God a like spirit would diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country," he wrote, "but I dispair of seeing it. . . . To set the slaves afloat at once would, I really believe, be productive of much inconvenience and mischief; but by degrees it certainly might, and assuredly ought to be, effected."



"I wish from my soul that the legislature of this state could see the policy of a gradual abolition of slavery. It would prevent much mischief."



" No man desires more heartily than I do [the end of slavery]. Not only do I pray for it on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union." [And by the way, GW made clear that if slavery caused a break up of the union, he would cast his lot with the North!]



"The unfortunate condition of the persons whose labour in part I employed, has been the only unavoidable subject of regret. To make the Adults among them as easy & comfortable in their circumstances as their actual state of ignorance and improvidence would admit; and to lay a foundation to prepare the rising generation for a destiny different from that in which they were born, afforded some satisfaction to my mind, and could not I hoped be displeasing to the justice of the Creator."



These quotes, and others that could be given, while heartfelt, must be understood in context or one might reasonably conclude that the first President was an abolitionist. It is important to note that virtually all of GW's anti-slavery quotes were expressed in private correspondence or conversation. During his lifetime, the General never took a public stance against slavery or called for its end. If his growing opposition to slavery was genuine and internalized, why did he not take a more public stand against it and use his unparalleled prestige in the cause of human freedom? This was a calculated decision by the President. It was a matter of priorities. A critic might write, "the only true policy is justice; and he who regards the consequences of an act rather than the justice of it gives no very exalted proof of the greatness of his character," but George Washington knew it was not that simple. In Roger Wilkins words,

He was "politically shackled by the grating chain [racism and slavery] that snaked through the new republic and diminished every life it touched."

http://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/henriques/hist615/gwslav.htm

President Washington told Secretary of State Randolph that if the Union ever split, "he had made up his mind to remove and be of the Northern [side]."

Reply to this post

Back to OP Alert abuse Link to post in-thread

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 90 replies Author Time Post
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 OP
gratuitous Jun 2015 #1
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #4
neverforget Jun 2015 #2
JackInGreen Jun 2015 #71
JustAnotherGen Jun 2015 #3
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #6
JustAnotherGen Jun 2015 #30
DashOneBravo Jun 2015 #90
femmocrat Jun 2015 #5
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #7
Kaleva Jun 2015 #8
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #9
Post removed Jun 2015 #14
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #16
Angleae Jun 2015 #33
former9thward Jun 2015 #75
mwrguy Jun 2015 #76
B2G Jun 2015 #79
former9thward Jun 2015 #80
mwrguy Jun 2015 #81
Kaleva Jun 2015 #86
former9thward Jun 2015 #87
awoke_in_2003 Jun 2015 #89
awoke_in_2003 Jun 2015 #88
oneshooter Jun 2015 #10
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #17
Telcontar Jun 2015 #19
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #22
NobodyHere Jun 2015 #29
Telcontar Jun 2015 #35
LineLineLineLineLineLineReply Several Biographies Are Worth A Read
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #38
happyslug Jun 2015 #63
treestar Jun 2015 #69
tymorial Jun 2015 #55
niyad Jun 2015 #11
Jamaal510 Jun 2015 #12
Name removed Jun 2015 #13
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #18
neverforget Jun 2015 #21
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #24
neverforget Jun 2015 #25
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #26
happyslug Jun 2015 #62
MadrasT Jun 2015 #15
Recursion Jun 2015 #20
MrScorpio Jun 2015 #23
Kalidurga Jun 2015 #27
struggle4progress Jun 2015 #28
ProdigalJunkMail Jun 2015 #31
Telcontar Jun 2015 #36
JustAnotherGen Jun 2015 #39
bullwinkle428 Jun 2015 #42
Telcontar Jun 2015 #43
LanternWaste Jun 2015 #51
erpowers Jun 2015 #45
Starry Messenger Jun 2015 #44
Telcontar Jun 2015 #52
Starry Messenger Jun 2015 #53
LanternWaste Jun 2015 #56
Telcontar Jun 2015 #67
KamaAina Jun 2015 #48
ProdigalJunkMail Jun 2015 #50
myrna minx Jun 2015 #32
DiverDave Jun 2015 #34
JustAnotherGen Jun 2015 #40
LibDemAlways Jun 2015 #74
boston bean Jun 2015 #37
KamaAina Jun 2015 #49
csziggy Jun 2015 #54
kentuck Jun 2015 #41
Gormy Cuss Jun 2015 #46
malthaussen Jun 2015 #47
Maedhros Jun 2015 #57
1939 Jun 2015 #59
rpannier Jun 2015 #64
DrAlCarroll Jun 2015 #77
mwrguy Jun 2015 #78
Maedhros Jun 2015 #83
1939 Jun 2015 #58
JPZenger Jun 2015 #60
malthaussen Jun 2015 #61
JackInGreen Jun 2015 #65
1939 Jun 2015 #66
Always Randy Jun 2015 #68
TheOther95Percent Jun 2015 #70
1939 Jun 2015 #72
cstanleytech Jun 2015 #73
DashOneBravo Jun 2015 #82
B Calm Jun 2015 #84
d_legendary1 Jun 2015 #85
Please login to view edit histories.