Thomas Jefferson - Indictment of Slavery in the Declaration

A man of contrasts, who owned slaves, Thomas Jefferson declared that all men were born equal. He included a scathing indictment of slavery in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams agreed with that position, but Benjamin Franklin believed such strong words would never be approved by the full Congress. 

Franklin urged that the anti-slavery phrases be removed—and they were.

In addition, Franklin made a significant edit to Jefferson's original version of the Declaration of Independence.

It was Franklin  who changed the draft from:

We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent

to

We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal.

Sometimes it's really great to learn how famous phrases actually originated.

This video clip—from John Adams, the HBO mini-series—recreates those discussions and is based on historical evidence.

See, also:

Original Draft of the Declaration with Edits by Franklin

John Adams Supports Independence - First Reading of the Declaration of Independence

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 4424stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: May 04, 2016


Media Credits

Clip from the HBO mini-series, "John Adams."  All copyrights/ownership rights belong to HBO.  DVD available from HBO.  Clip online, via YouTube.  Provided here as "fair use" for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the series.

 

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