Thursday, March 17, 2011

George Washington and Slavery

A letter to the editor about George Washington and Slavery that didn't make the cut:
In her paean to George Washington (letter, March 5th), Ellen Latane Tabb attempts to gloss over Washington’s involvement with slavery, writing “He opposed slavery and was faced with the problem of how to deal with hundreds in the Custis estate. His solution was to prepare them for freedom as much as possible.” This is nonsense. First: George Washington was mired in slavery for most of his life, inheriting slaves from his father at aged 11 in 1743, bequeathing 316 slaves at Mount Vernon their freedom upon his death in 1799. Second: Washington’s attitude toward slavery was typical of Virginia planters of the time namely, slavery was a commercial enterprise and the slaves themselves, subhuman and mere property to be used or abused as the slave master desired. Third: in what cannot be construed as a profile in courage, Washington, despite his standing and influence in the new nation, never went public with his reservations and misgivings about the institution of slavery.

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Alexandria, VA, United States
'To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle." - George Orwell