Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 10 - Volume 12.djvu/538

This page needs to be proofread.


NOTES AND QUERIES. [io s. xn. DEC. 4, 1909.

this, and, so far as I am aware, none exists.* Secondly, that " there can be little doubt that the anti-slavery clause struck out of the Declaration was written by Paine, or by some one who had Paine's anti-slavery essay before him." Conway then gives in parallel columns the clause struck out of the Declaration and two extracts from Paine, but without indicating the source of either extract. One is taken from Paine's ' African Slavery in America, 2 first printed in the Postscript to the Pennsylvania Journal (Philadelphia) of 8 March, 1775, and re- printed in Conway 's ' Writings of Thomas Paine/ 1894, i. 4-9 ; the other I have been unable to trace to its source. " Whether or not the statement," writes Mr. J. H. Hazelton, "is justified must always, so far as the concurrent columns are con- cerned, of course, remain a subject of individual opinion " ( ' Declaration of Independence : its History,* 1906, p. 450). The present writer can only express his opinion that the " deadly parallel li does not accomplish the purpose intended by Conway.

But a further remark is here pertinent. In his ' Summary View of the Rights of British America/ written in July, 1774, and published at the time, Jefferson said :

" The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those [i.e. the American] colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the enfran- chisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa ; yet our repeated attempts to effect this by pro- hibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his majesty's negative : Thus pre- ferring the immediate advantages of a few African [altered in the author's copy to "British"] corsairs to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature deeply wounded by this infamous practice." 'Writings ' ed. P. L. Ford, i. 440.

That the author of these words, written four months previous to Paine's arrival in America, must, before penning the anti- slavery clause struck out of the Declara- tion, have had before him an article not

  • Paine reached Philadelphia 30 Nov., 1774.

Jefferson arrived at Philadelphia 20 June, 1775, but returned to Virginia 31 July ; again reached Philadelphia 1 Oct., but returned to Virginia 28 Dec. ; and was once more in Philadelphia from 14 May to 2 Sept., 1776. The Declaration was written between 11 and 28 June, 1776 From 29 Dec., 1775, to 13 May, 1776, inclusive, Jefferson and Paine obviously could not have met. They may have met betewen 14 May and 28 June, but of this there is no proof.

printed until 8 March, 1775, is a proposition that will be accepted by few.

Let us now turn to other sources of informa- tion. On 7 June, 1776, it was " Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States." On 11 June a committee to draft the Declaration was chosen, consisting of Jeffer- son, John Adams, Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston ; and on 28 June the draft was read ( ' Journals of the Con- tinental Congress, 1 ed. W. C. Ford, v. 425, 431, 491). In a letter dated 12 May, 1819, Jefferson stated that he had, " while the question of independence was under con- sideration before Congress, taken written notes, in my seat, of what was passing,, and reduced them to form on the final conclusion. I have now before me that paper" ('Writings, 1 x. 130). Still later, a controversy arose between Adams and Jefferson in regard to some of the details, and on 30 Aug., 1823, Jefferson wrote :

" The committee of five met ; no such thing as a sub-committee was proposed, but they unanimously pressed on myself alone to under- take the draught. I consented ; I drew it ? but before I reported it to the committee, I com- municated it separately to Dr. Franklin and Mr- Adams, requesting their corrections, because they were the two members of whose judgment* and amendments I wished most to have the benefit, before presenting it to the committee ? and you [J. Madison] have seen the original paper now in my hands, with the corrections of Dr.. Franklin and Mr. Adams interlined in their own handwritings.* Their alterations were two or three only, and merely verbal. I then wrote a fair copy, reported it to the committee, and from them, unaltered, to Congress. This personal! communication and consultation with Mr. Adams, he has misremembered into the actings of a sub- committee. Pickering's observations, and Mr.. Adams' in addition, ' that it contained no new ideas, that it is a commonplace compilation, its sentiments hacknied in Congress for two years before, and its essence contained in Otis' pam- phlet,' may all be true. Of that I am not to be the judge. Richard Henry Lee charged it as copied from Locke's treatise on government. Otis' pamphlet I never saw, and whether I had gathered my ideas from reading or reflection I do not know. I know only that I turned to neither book nor pamphlet while writing it. I did not consider it as any part of my charge to- invent new ideas altogether, and to offer no sentiment which had ever been expressed before.'^ ' Writings,' x. 267-8.

Here we have Jefferson's deliberate claim to the sole authorship of the Declaration, and his assertion that he " turned to neither

  • This has been reproduced several tunes in-

facsimile. Neither Adams nor Franklin made any change in the anti-slavery clause.