Slavery And The Founding Fathers Essay, Research Paper
When the issue of slavery and the Founding Father’s arise, it is clear that despite some of their noble actions, the Founding Fathers were indeed hypocritical to true American ideals in both action and in thought. Among the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson’s disposition on slavery was ambiguous as he contradicted himself many times on an issue that affected America for hundreds of years. Not only did he show hypocrisy, but also a weakness as a politician in boldly expressing his views and action upon what he feels is morally right.
In both Jefferson’s political life and his private life, many actions were clearly adverse to the “All men are created equal” line of the constitution. Most obvious is the fact that he owned more than 180 slaves, only two of which were freed. As an authoritative figure, a role model, these actions may have had repercussions outside Jefferson’s household, but also it shows his inability to do what is morally right. Secondly, as illustrated by William Cohen, “Jefferson held an intuitive belief in the inferiority of the blacks, which he tried to cover up with an appeal to science.” This is evidence that further proves their double standard. In my opinion, another example of the Founding Father’s hypocrisy is their failure to act boldly towards abolition, although they continued to hold that slavery was unjust and immoral. Some may argue that they Founding Fathers simply wanted to keep the Union united and prevent war, a point pressed by Freehling. However, I feel that abolition is a cause worth fighting for if all else fails, similarly the Founding Fathers should have been willing to fight for the American values of freedom, equality and liberty, as they did in the American Revolution.
However in order to understand the Founding Fathers, both positive and negative aspect of their character must be examined in order to reach a full grasp of who they were. As Freelhling explains, abolition was a long-term process, and the Founding Fathers took the necessary steps for ending slavery. Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers helped in the success of Northern abolition, the passing of the Northwest Ordinance, and most importantly the end of the slave trade in 1807. However, I feel that no amount of positive action can undermine the effect the negative actions have on our perception of the Founding Fathers, and anyone who claims that they are not hypocrites are doing exactly that, they are allowing the positive actions override the few negative actions.