Americans Would have Eliminated Slavery before the Revolution, but for England’s Antipathy

The thesis of the 1619 Project is that all the white, male founders who signed the Declaration of Independence lied about the colonies grievances and falsely claimed to believe all men are created equal.  Furthermore, the Constitution was written by mostly the same white, males as signed the Declaration, and its major purpose was to perpetuate slavery. It is the thesis of this essay that the claims in the 1619 Project are malicious and false.  The founders believed slavery was in decline in The United States of America and would eventually disappear on its own.  Not only non-slave owners among the founders believed this, but also slave-owners among the founders were in agreement with that conclusion.  

The first grievance in the Declaration of Independence states, “He [the King] has refused his assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” That statement means the King vetoed colonial legislation to abolish the slave trade.  The King refused to allow the colonies to abolish slavery because he was personally profiting from supplying slaves.  

The Northwest Ordinance (1787) and the Constitution (1789) each testify to the above beliefs, as well as by initiating steps curtailing slavery in new states (The Northwest Ordinance) and to abolish the slave trade by a fixed date twenty years hence (the Constitution).  All of the preceding documents were agreed and ratified with support of slave-owners.  These documents required support from Southern slave-states to become effective, and could have been stopped if Southern slave-owners desired to oppose ratification.  The Northwest Ordinance was approved by 17-1 vote in Congress.  

The Constitution of the United States was ratified by all thirteen states in the year 1789. Article I, Section 9 thereof states: “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”  This statement has the effect of authorizing Congress, if it desires to abolish the Slave Trade beginning in 1808.  All slave-holding States ratified this authorization.  

Congress passed an act to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States…from any foreign kingdom, place, or country, effective in 1808.  This document was passed in March 1807 pursuant to the authority in the Constitution of Article I, Section 9.  The vote to approve The Act of 1807 included votes from both original Southern Slave states as well as all new states admitted since 1789.  

The above legal actions of the United States government foretold an intention to abolish the slave trade, and thereafter to reach a political solution satisfactory to the representatives in Congress from slave-holding states for abolishing slavery. It would seem likely both the Federalists and the Republicans who constituted the only two political parties in the United States at that time realized the time had come to abolish slavery altogether.  

What was not known at the time was a technological invention.  Cotton was not profitable as long as cotton seeds had to be picked out of cotton bowls by hand; a job which slaves performed.  In 1793 Eli Whitney invented and patented the “cotton gin” a machine that performed the task of the slaves, thus increasing profitability and hence profitably expanding acreage to growing cotton, and need for more slaves.  In the year 1770 the number of slaves in the US was 457,740.  By 1810, after the cotton gin was invented, there were 1,103,700 slaves and in year 1860, before the Civil War (1861) 3,950,511 slaves.  The slave explosion was not political, it was economic.  

Finally, English nobles were participating in the Atlantic slave-trade long before the first 
“Americans” colonized Virginia.  King Charles I and his brother, the future King James I were majority owners of the highly profitable Royal African Company and its successors.  The monarchy controlled and profited from slavery and introduced it to all its colonies on the mainland of North America so as to enjoy greater profit, for a longer period.                                                                                           August 4, 2020