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George Washington's Feelings on Slavery

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While George and Martha Washington did own slaves, George's feelings toward slavery changed as he grew older.  Here's an excerpt from "George Washington and Slavery."

"George Washington's attitude toward slavery changed as he grew older. During the Revolution, as he and fellow patriots strove for liberty, Washington became increasingly conscious of the contradiction between this struggle and the system of slavery. By the time of his presidency, he seems to have believed that slavery was wrong and against the principles of the new nation.

As President, Washington did not lead a public fight against slavery, however, because he believed it would tear the new nation apart. Abolition had many opponents, especially in the South. Washington seems to have feared that if he took such a public stand, the southern states would withdraw from the Union (something they would do seventy years later, leading to the Civil War). He had worked too hard to build the country to risk tearing it apart.


Privately, however, Washington could -- and did -- lead by example. In his will, he arranged for all of the slaves he owned to be freed after the death of his wife, Martha. He also left instructions for the continued care and education of some of his former slaves, support and training for all of the children until they came of age, and continuing support for the elderly."


George Washington was also against bigotry.  George Washington's words from To Bigotry No Sanction,to Persecution No Assistance.


"The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens."

May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid."


George Washington, unlike some slave owners, gave his slaves food rations and paid his slaves, sometimes even for working holidays.  Again from
from "George Washington and Slavery."

"Food grown at Mount Vernon was distributed to the slaves and their families and to the Washingtons. Any surplus was sold at market. The slaves received their food rations weekly. Many slaves also kept their own gardens to supplement their diet. The slaves could sell their food at local markets to earn extra income. The slaves were also issued clothing once a year.

The work-day at Mount Vernon was from sunrise to sunset, with 2 hours off for meals. Sunday was a holiday. Slaves also received 3-4 days off at Christmas, and the Monday after Easter and Pentecost as holidays. If a slave was required to work a Sunday during harvest, Washington would allow them a day off later, and sometimes compensated them with pay."


Although he could get little support, George Washington did try to gain support for abolishing slavery.  He feared that the Southern states would withdraw from the newly formed union if he pushed too hard, though.  He not only freed his slaves after Martha died, but also cared for, educated, and provided retirement for them.

"Privately, however, Washington could -- and did -- lead by example. In his will, he arranged for all of the slaves he owned to be freed after the death of his wife, Martha. He also left instructions for the continued care and education of some of his former slaves, support and training for all of the children until they came of age, and continuing support for the elderly."

Sadly, it wasn't until January 1, 1863 that Lincoln freed all slaves.  What is even more sad is that, in recent years, many conservatives in the U.S., in the party that once SUPPORTED civil rights, seem to be supporting the idea of slavery once again.  In fact, it would appear that they would like to make slaves of us all.  As Al Franken said, according to "History of the Republican Party."

"Now, it is true that Republicans have been involved in civil rights issues for a century and a half. For the first 100 or so years, they were the party that was "for" civil rights.


Then they switched sides with the Democrats, and for half a century they've been more involved on the 'against' side."


Although the article tries to refute Franken's alleged statement (no reference to Franken's statement was given), it has been clear that they're trying to push through measures to take away bargaining rights and also trying to push through measures to allow only land owners to vote.  If they have their way, they will have most of us working in their fields singing negro spirituals while they sit on their porches sipping mint juleps.  Is this what has become of America?  I urge my fellow citizens to please wake up.

Love, Hope, Peace, & Christ Is With Us All,

Cal-el


References:

George Washington and Slavery, George Washington's Mt. Vernon Estate & Gardens, http://www.mountvernon.org/learn/meet_george/index.cfm/ss/101/

To Bigotry No Sanction,to Persecution No Assistance, Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/bigotry.html

"History of the Republican Party",
February 21, 2005, http://www.everythingiknowiswrong.com/2005/02/history_of_the_.html
SpaceEagle Uploaded 04/07/2011
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