Founding Brothers

What were the views of Madison, Jefferson, Washington and Franklin regarding slavery?

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Madison: "We have seen the mere distinction of colour made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man."

Jefferson: He called the institution an "abominable crime," a "moral depravity," a "hideous blot," and a "fatal stain" that deformed "what nature had bestowed on us of her fairest gifts."

Washington: Although Washington personally opposed the institution of slavery after the American Revolutionary War, as President he authorized emergency financial and military relief to French slave owners in Haiti to suppress a slave rebellion that began in 1791.

Franklin: Franklin did not publicly speak out against slavery until very late in his life. As a young man he owned slaves, and he carried advertisements for the sale of slaves in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. At the same time, however, he published numerous Quaker pamphlets against slavery and condemned the practice of slavery in his private correspondence. It was after the ratification of the United States Constitution that he became an outspoken opponent of slavery.