January 18, 1773: Patrick Henry and Slavery


Yesterday in a post which may be read here, I stated that Patrick Henry was Liberty’s Voice, and so he was.  It is therefore ironic that a man who could speak so eloquently of liberty was also an owner of slaves.  However, like most of the Founding Fathers who held slaves, he did not deceive himself about the essential injustice of slavery, as we see in a letter he wrote in 1773 to a Quaker:

Patrick Henry to Robert Pleasants, January 18, 1773

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of Anthony Benezet’s book against the slave trade. I thank you for it. It is not a little surprising that Christianity, whose chief excellence consists in softening the human heart, in cherishing and improving its finer feelings, should encourage a practice so totally repugnant to the first Impression of right and wrong. What adds to the wonder is that this abominable practice has been introduced in the most enlightened ages, times that seem to have pretensions to boast of high Improvements in the arts, sciences, and refined morality, have brought into general use, and guarded by many laws, a species of violence and tyranny, which our more rude and barbarous, but more honest ancestors detested. Is it not amazing, that at a time, when the rights of humanity are defined and understood with precision, in a country above all others fond of liberty, that in such an age, and such a country we find men, professing a religion the most humane, mild, meek, gentle and generous; adopting a principle as repugnant to humanity as it is inconsistent with the Bible and destructive to liberty.

Every thinking honest man rejects it in speculation, how few in practice from conscie (more…)

Published in: on January 18, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 18, 1773: Patrick Henry and Slavery  
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