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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 89 of Joseph Ellis’s 2001 book, Founding Brothers:

In the long run, as we know, the liberal values of the Declaration did indeed win out. But we also need to recognize that in the short run, during and immediately after the war for independence, there was a prevailing consensus that slavery was already on the road to extinction. In 1776, for example, when the Continental Congress voted to repeal the nonimportation agreement of 1774, it chose to retain its prohibition against the importation of African slaves, a clear statement of opposition to the resumption of the slave trade.

DBx: Perhaps not quite as clear a statement as Ellis supposes. Maybe support for preventing the importation of slaves was driven by slaveholders who did not wish to have the market value of their “property” diluted. Maybe. Maybe. Yet the many founders who opposed slavery would also have supported the ban on the importation of slaves.

There can be no question that the liberal values expressed in the Declaration, and that infused America’s founders, are utterly incompatible with the vile and wholly illiberal institution of slavery. That America did not rid herself of slavery in 1776 is, unquestionably, a stain on America’s history. That America boldly embraced the liberalism that eventually did end this antediluvian institution is to her great credit.