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Jefferson’s Religious Stance against Slavery
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A Federal Era newspaper printing of Query XVIII from Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson’s key section on slavery.  Also George Washington’s Letter to the Philadelphia Convention of the Episcopal Church, Proposed Revisions to the Bill of Rights, &c.

Contains an extract from Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia.

[Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia]. The Massachusetts Centinel. August 29, 1789. Boston: Benjamin Russell. 4 pp.

Inventory #30027.30       Price: $4,250

Excerpt:

“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submission on the other.– Our children see this, and learn to imitate it.  If a parent could find no other motive, either in his philanthropy or his self-love, for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present.  But generally it is not sufficient.– The parent storms, the child looks on, catches the lineaments of wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, gives a loose to his worst of passions – and thus nursed, educated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped by it with odious peculiarities.  The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances.  And with what execration should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots, and these into enemies ; destroys the morals of one part, and the amor patriae of the other.  With the morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed ; for, in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him.  And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction that these liberties were the gift of God ?  That they are not to be violated but with his wrath ?  Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just : That his justice cannot sleep forever : That considering numbers, nature, and natural means only, an exchange of situation is among possible events, and that it may become probable by supernatural interference.  The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.  But it is impossible to be temperate, and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil.  We must be contented to hope, they will force their way into every one’s mind.  I think a change already very perceptible since the origin of the present revolution.  The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition molifying, the way, I hope, preparing, under the auspices of Heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.”

Also in this issue is Washington’s August 19, 1789 letter to the Philadelphia Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina. “It affords edifying prospects indeed, to see christians of different denominations dwell together in more charity, and conduct themselves…with a more christian-like spirit, than ever they have done in any former age, or in any other nation.  /  I received with the greater satisfaction your congratulations on the establishment of the new Constitution of Government, because, I believe its mild, yet efficient operations, will tend to remove every remaining apprehension … And because the moderation, patriotism and wisdom of the present Federal Legislature, seem to promise the restoration of order and our ancient virtues ; the extension of genuine Religion, and the consequent advancement of our respectability abroad, and of our substantial happiness at home.”

Reports on three additional amendments being proposed to the Bill of Rights and voted down by a majority – “To take from Congress the power of direct Taxation;” “respecting Titles of Nobility;” “and another against establishing Mercantile Companies with exclusive privileges.”  [The House of Representatives had approved a ‘first draft’ of seventeen amendments to the Constitution on August 24, 1789, which was then sent to the Senate for concurrence, and by September 25, had been condensed and pared down to twelve, ten of which became our Bill of Rights.]

“An Act to Establish an Executive Department, to be denominated the Department of War,” & “An Act for the Establishment and support of Light-Houses…and Publick Piers,” both signed in fancy script type by Washington.

The story of a captured African Prince’s bow and quiver making their way to America with him, and ultimately being used by his master’s wife to defend her home from the British, is related with news of the bow being presented to Charles Willson Peale’s Museum.

Condition

Very good


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