Slavery and the Founders
Dilemmas of Jefferson and His Contemporaries
This text studies the attitudes of the founding "fathers" toward slavery. Specifically, it examines the views of Thomas Jefferson reflected in his life and writings and those of other founders as expressed in the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitutional Convention and the Constitution itself, and the fugitive slave legislation of the 1790s. The author contends: slavery fatally permeated the founding of the American republic; the original constitution was, as the abilitionists later maintained, "a covnenant with death"; and Jefferson's anti-slavery reputation is undeserved and most historians and biographers have prettified Jefferson's record on slavery.