"The Source of the Moral Outrage Against Slavery. The rise of this 18th century movement against slavery can be traced to the great, spiritual awakening that rocked Colonial America beginning in 1726. Entire towns were morally transformed as evidenced by Benjamin Franklin's description of this "Great Awakening" in his hometown of Philadelphia in 1739. He wrote:
"From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street" (Hyatt, Abolitionist Founding Fathers, 14). Out of this Awakening racial and cultural barriers were breached and there arose a powerful anti-slavery movement as Awakening preachers began, not only to offer salvation to individuals, but to attack the institution of slavery as sinful and evil in the sight of God." - Eddie Hyatt
So according to this wannabe history revisionist, the awakening in 1726 greatly affected the moral conscience of this nation even though slavery would not be abolished for over a hundred more years. Even the quote from Franklin was an observation that did not change his personal ownership of slaves for another 50 years when he was past 80 years of age. While it is true that some, including John Adams were anti-slavery from the beginning, most found their moral courage when they were already heading toward death, probably very concerned about facing God. What Eddie likes to do is quote out of context, both biblically and historically. We will soon see that the heroes he offers up here were hardly that. The church awakening also was probably helped by the enlightenment spreading across Europe, which was far ahead of the US in abolishing slavery.
"This abolition movement gained momentum and eventually turned multitudes against slavery, including America's founding fathers. Thomas Jefferson called slavery a "moral depravity" and "hideous blot" and said it presented the greatest threat to the future survival of America." - Eddie Hyatt
Hyatt talks about Samuel Hopkins, a vocal slavery opponent. Remember, we can easily point to some who were genuine but to claim the founding fathers suddenly had a great change of heart will be proven to be a false claim here and we start with Thomas Jefferson. Remember the charge Eddie is making here is that Jefferson turned against slavery. It is true that Jefferson, who also rewrote the bible to remove the deity of Christ, said the above quotes. Yet he remained a slaveholder his entire life, owning over 600 slaves. He also did not believe that blacks and whites could live in the same country and that blacks were inferior and "as incapable as children." He actually correctly predicted the eventual Civil War over the issue. While it does sound like politically, he staked out the anti-slavery side he never followed through personally, although it seems like he wanted better treatment for slaves. Yet the bottom line is in his will he freed five men, but another 156 were sold at auction. Not to mention the fact that he had upwards of six children through one of his slaves and they remained slaves, although some were part of the five, he freed upon his death. It sure doesn't seem like in his personal life he considered slavery a moral depravity and hideous blot. This does not change his tremendous contribution to the formation of this country but stop idolizing him for stating anti-slavery sentiments with a personal record like this.
"James Madison, America's 4th president, called slavery "the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man."' - Eddie Hyatt
Princeton University states that Madison did indeed publicly decry the practice of slavery, as vociferously as Jefferson. Yet he still owned over 100 slaves, brought enslaved people to the White House with him and ultimately sold them for personal profit. His fortune, as most of the founding fathers, was a result of plantation owning with slave labor. Even upon his death, Madison did not free his slaves instead leaving them to his wife. He instructed her to only sell them with their consent, but she ignored this and sold them off to pay debts. Madison certainly did advocate for slavery's end publicly but again not personally. At the end of his life, in a letter to the Editor of the Farmers' Register he declared that slaves are "infinitely worsted by the exchange from slavery to liberty, if indeed their condition deserves that name."
'Benjamin Franklin, in 1785, liberated his two slaves and began advocating for abolition. He joined the Abolition Society in Philadelphia and later served as its president. He called slavery "an atrocious debasement of human nature."' - Eddie Hyatt
This is true but let's provide the missing context. Ben Franklin owned slaves from 1735 (age 21) until 1790, at age 84. This quote is from when he was 79 after 50 plus years of being a slaveowner. Now, as this list goes, Franklin is a bit of a better story as he appears to have "only" owned seven slaves. The two he freed in old age were the last two he owned. He did also become very involved in the abolitionist movement for the final five years of his life following a trip to "Enlightened" France. He gets full credit for these changes in his views but again Hyatt tells a quarter of the story to prop up Franklin as some bastion of anti-slave sentiment when he most certainly was not. Again, this does not minimize all of the contributions Franklin made to this country, but we should not be idolizing any man, let alone based on revisionist history.