Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Not Static

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin [1706-1790] owned at least one slave and ran advertisements to sell slaves in his newspapers, but ultimately funded schools for freed slaves.

John Adams [1735-1826] was the only founder who never had slaves, which was then common in Massachusetts. Alexander Hamilton [1755-1804] is thought to have had slaves in the West Indies. James Madison [1751-1836] occasionally condemned the institution of slavery and opposed the international slave trade, but he also vehemently opposed any attempts to restrict its domestic expansion. Madison did not free his slaves during his lifetime or in his will.

George Washington [1732-1799] married into wealth and a continuing income stream derived from at least one hundred slaves. Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826] maintained slaves to his death even though he wrote that all men are created equal. 

Franklin was the truly Enlightened one as he changed his positions throughout his life like a tax accountant he recorded in ledgers his failings and his "corrections," perhaps because he was a generation older and more inclined to reflection. He gave away part of his fortune to have all religions represented in Philadelphia - 35 representatives from Islam to Judaism to various Christian sects attended his funeral. He could have been wealthier than Washington but he didn't patent many of his inventions including his stove as he wanted the masses to afford it and stay warm. But he was alienated from wife for 14 years and didn't attend her funeral, and his son William Franklin [1730-11813] who remained a staunch Loyalist and died in London.