We all learned in school that the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, who went on to become the third President of the United States. What our classes didn't teach us, however, is that the original draft of the Declaration contained a harsh criticism of slavery. The condemnation was written by Jefferson, a slave-owner himself, who believed slavery was wrong despite being born into a system where he could see no way to end it.
Here's the passage from Jefferson's original draft, criticizing King George of Britain's support 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 hither. This piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. [Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold.] He has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce [determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold]: And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
When Jefferson's first draft made it to the Continental Congress, however, many members objected to the section about slavery. Eager to present a united front against Great Britain, Jefferson removed the passage on July 1st, 1776.
Read more on the next page...