Many African-Americans like James Armistead Lafayette, held in bondage as slaves, seized eagerly on the Declaration's language of freedom and equality. When war broke out, thousands of ex-slaves and slaves showed up at patriot camps to join the fight for liberty.
James enlisted under General Lafayette and won the French general's praise for his work as a master spy but after the war he was re-enslaved until Lafayette injected himself intervened to force the Virginia Assembly to grant freedom to a man who had risked his life to achieve it for others. And, this case did not set well with many lawyers and slave owners who relished slavery as a way of life and profits. Without huge landed estates and slaves or serfs to work it, ... aristocrats died away.
Believe it or not in the minds of many men of means after the Revolutionary War, ... free people of color, especially men like William Lee, Richard Allen, Paul Cuffee, etc. were perceived as threats to American liberty because they were free and likely to instigate a desire for freedom among the million or so who were not free. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer, even before he wrote the Star Spangled Banner, ... actively voiced words that free Negroes should be deported or re-enslaved. Lawyer Key, like fellow lawyer became rich and one of the founders of the American Colonization Society to deport free Negroes to Liberia.
We suspect that both lawyers were mindful of the importance that a slave not be confused with the meanings of patriotism and liberty. Both men earned a lot of money and like many lawyers of the time earned a living helping people buy and sell human beings. And, both were script writers for the American generation born after the great revolution that declared human equality, ... before any other peoples in human history. Mind you, Thomas Jefferson, though a lawyer by training, in his "Declaration of Independence" was inspired to write words that still inspire humanity as a Messianic death certificate for would-be (want-a-be) aristocrats all over the world. Money is not God; and, government does not simply exist because of property interests.
For all his faults before and after the declaration he wrote, ... Thomas Jefferson was nevertheless inspired to write words, (preamble to the Constitution adapted 14 years later), that served the cause of Messianic Christianity in the world of then and now in the face of opponents like John Rutledge of South Carolina who argued that Africans were property, not people. Indeed, the constitution would be a compromise of principles between both Jefferson and Rutledge in a contest of ideas finally settled by the American Civil War.
Washington and His Cabinet
United States President George Washington, far left, sits with members of his Cabinet who were appointed in 1789 and 1790. The members are, left to right: Secretary of War Henry Knox, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph.
All of Washington's great and highly respected men in the revolution had witnessed the decisive Anglo-Saxon virtue of courage and declarative Christian virtues of faith, hope and love ... that existed among people of African heritage close to them and known for decades. Washington knew his wife Martha's relatives included men like Jackie Custiss, with a mother of African heritage, and it is a certainty that he knew William Lee and brother Frank were the sons of deceased Colonel John Lee, his colleague and friend in the Virginia Colonial Militia.
Some like Thomas Jefferson knew and appreciated the Hemings at Monticello, especially Betty Hemings, who had helped save him from hanging by British soldiers that raided his residence with arrest orders to find and hang him as a traitor. He and Alexander Hamilton had fought side by side with many of the 5,000 men of African heritage in the Continental Army; and, Edmund Randolph certainly had intimate knowledge of slavery in Virginia. Many knew it was an abomination!
Indeed, both Hamilton and Washington had seen with their own eyes, ... tens of thousands of offspring from African and European parents in the Caribbean, and Jefferson had married the daughter of John Wayles whose acknowledged concubine was Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings an attractive mulatto of both English and West African heritage. Professor Fawn Brody (excerpts included on various pages of this site) documented how and why Sarah (Sally) Hemings was Jefferson's sister-in-common law polygamy before becoming his concubine.
Whether by the laws of nature or man, the existence of polygamous relationships and offspring existed in Africa, the Americas, Caribbean and Europe long before and after the American Declaration for which the world will forever be grateful to Thomas Jefferson, for his light of courage and genius that in effect was a death warrant to aristocracy of which he was born into (Randolph lineage of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana) one, but secretly despised.
An argument can be made that long before men of means talked or even considered the issues of slaves, voting, women's rights or any other rights, ... there were heated discussions about the rights and privileges of men of power and their concubines and wards/ladies in waiting. Every woman's body was not her own and every powerful man's natural right was the pursuit of procreation with women in his own free mind or sight.
The great Italian aristocrats, often rich old men, developed the notion of platonic love for underage and unavailable young women into an art form read and admired by intellectuals like Jefferson and Franklin. Yet, the notion of 20th century racists, even before the emergence of the maniac Adolph Hitler and his concepts of Aryan Supremacy, ... were fueled by the rationale and reasoning of many in the 18th and 19th century that contrary to the great declaration "all pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than other pigs" [Animal Farm].
Late 18th century Christians like William Wilberforce were enlightened and educated men who knew their English history and royalty-aristocracy, ... and saw the hypocrisy in viewing Africans as sub-humans and descendants of the mythical Ham (described by ancient Semites in reference to the Black peoples of Kam the Greeks renamed Upper Egypt).
The biblical passage more than any other was used effectively and often cited by bible waving slave traders and owners as their moral authority given by God. Indeed, the institutionalization of slavery among Christians could not have come into existence without religious doctrinal support.
And, even at this late date, there are not a few people of African heritage and a lot of non-Africans who secretly believe God sanctioned slavery, ... and, pursuant Paul "every woman's body was not her own." Equally important, these men above all else (excepting perhaps duty, honor and country) admired and loved beautiful women. They knew mixed ancestry often generated beauties not ignored by any men of normal sexual desires, ... especially aristocrats with a free hand to choose and reject.
They certainly knew that slavery as they knew it, had its beginnings in 1441 CE when Prince Henry of Portugal began (and Pope Martin V approved) the godless trade in human bondage among Christians more often than not financed by the famed Medici family of bankers. Indeed, the Renaissance in Europe was not a Christian enlightenment.
And, every educated man in America of their times was aware the first of many slave castles in Canary Islands and along the African coasts had been established by King John of Portugal in 1481, ... a decade before Christopher Columbus sailed to America with three ships manned by sailors that included men of Italian, Sicilian (referred to as Guineas because of their dark complexions), Spanish, Portuguese and West African heritage in the Gulf of Guinea.
Americans as the greatest beneficiaries of the slave trade are perhaps the least educated in European history wherein voyages of Columbus and other ships sailing to America that almost always sailed from Europe down the West Coast of Africa to capture the warmer westerly trade winds for their voyages to America; and, acquire Negro (Spanish word for Black) diggers (later called N.....) by Europeans and Americans.
The N Word began in the Caribbean, not America. Catholic priests in Cuba and other Spanish conquered territories decried the high death rate among enslaved Arwak natives in the Caribbean Islands, ... and suggested that Negro diggers (later referred to as N......) were more suitable and deserving. Such brutal chattel slavery was practiced by ruthless Spanish prospectors, most of whom were under financial and legal obligations to aristocrats in Italy, France and Spain to succeed or not return home. It was a prime example of Church, State and private capital doing the devil's work and calling it good. The most greedy of the Medici family bankers, bishops, cardinals, kings, queens and popes employed and deployed ruthless conquistadors like Cortes and Pissarro who literally slaughtered the Aztec and Inca Empires in Mexico and Peru.
English theologian John Wesley and a group of his followers formed the first Methodist society in London, England, in 1739. Wesley preached that salvation was available for every person through faith in Jesus Christ alone. His message spread through his many sermons, especially among the poor.
For most of the 19th century African-Americans enlightened and educated in their own history of the faith they profess to cling to ... John Wesley was a god-send. He dismissed Paul, Saul and all the other biblical names and characters; and, all the popes, priests, bishops, cardinals and other holy men over the poor of mind and spirit, and insisted their salvation was achievable by their own beliefs in Christ, ... not any other man or woman now or in the past. The English poor loved him deeply. By the time his convert, Reverend Francis Asbury came to preach the Gospel to Blacks and Indians in America, ... the great battle was on, that shaped the America to come and be today in Martin Luther King's dream.
The modern "Black Church" of various denominations and associations was born in the pioneer spirit of John Wesley. Without Wesley, there would not have been a proponent like Asbury who had royal approval to preach where slave owners did not want him to go. But, Asbury was a free Englishman, and no one dared try to stop him. By the time he finished preaching, ... goodness was afire in America. And, goodness came as always from the wombs of good mothers like Queen Charlotte (likely inspired by philosophy of men like John Wesley) who quietly encouraged the enlightenment of men like William Wilberforce who would openly combat the evil of slavery.
Our point here, is that since the birth of Jesus by Mother Mary, ...goodness is always generated by wombs of good mothers, not tombs of dead men. It matters that would-be Christians understand this fact in the rise up from slavery and denigration that unenlightened folks still do not comprehend. And, all the Kings, King's men and popes and priests and judges and lawyers and rabbis and immans remained silent as a living Christ came again for salvation of "the least of us" who believed.
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