The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 402 pages of information about The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861.
educated and freed.  To acquaint themselves with the claims of the underman Americans thereafter prosecuted more seriously the study of Coke, Milton, Locke, and Blackstone.  The last of these was then read more extensively in the colonies than in Great Britain.  Getting from these writers strange ideas of individual liberty and the social compact theory of man’s making in a state of nature government deriving its power from the consent of the governed, the colonists contended more boldly than ever for religious freedom, industrial liberty, and political equality.  Given impetus by the diffusion of these ideas, the revolutionary movement became productive of the spirit of universal benevolence.  Hearing the contention for natural and inalienable rights, Nathaniel Appleton[1] and John Woolman,[2] were emboldened to carry these theories to their logical conclusion.  They attacked not only the oppressors of the colonists but censured also those who denied the Negro race freedom of body and freedom of mind.  When John Adams heard James Otis basing his argument against the writs of assistance on the British constitution “founded in the laws of nature,” he “shuddered at the doctrine taught and the consequences that might be derived from such premises."[3]

[Footnote 1:  Locke, Anti-slavery, etc., p. 19, 20, 23.]

[Footnote 2:  Works of John Woolman in two parts, pp. 58 and 73; Moore, Notes on Slavery in Mass., p. 71.]

[Footnote 3:  Adams, Works of John Adams, vol. x., p. 315; Moore, Notes on Slavery in Mass., p. 71.]

So effective was the attack on the institution of slavery and its attendant evils that interest in the question leaped the boundaries of religious organizations and became the concern of fair-minded men throughout the country.  Not only did Northern men of the type of John Adams and James Otis express their opposition to this tyranny of men’s bodies and minds, but Laurens, Henry, Wythe, Mason, and Washington pointed out the injustice of such a policy.  Accordingly we find arrayed against the aristocratic masters almost all the leaders of the American Revolution.[1] They favored the policy, first, of suppressing the slave trade, next of emancipating the Negroes in bondage, and finally of educating them for a life of freedom.[2] While students of government were exposing the inconsistency of slaveholding among a people contending for political liberty, and men like Samuel Webster, James Swan, and Samuel Hopkins attacked the institution on economic grounds;[3] Jonathan Boucher,[4] Dr. Rush,[5] and Benjamin Franklin[6] were devising plans to educate slaves for freedom; and Isaac Tatem[7] and Anthony Benezet[8] were actually in the schoolroom endeavoring to enlighten their black brethren.

[Footnote 1:  Cobb, Slavery, etc., p. 82.]

[Footnote 2:  Madison, Works of, vol. iii., p. 496; Smyth, Works of Franklin, vol. v., p. 431; Washington, Works of Jefferson, vol. ix., p. 163; Brissot de Warville, New Travels, vol. i., p. 227; Proceedings of the American Convention of Abolition Societies, 1794, 1795, 1797.]

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The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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