American History

George Washington & Slavery

By Mike Kapic / September 24, 2020 / Comments Off on George Washington & Slavery

George Washington’s changing views on slavery By Tara Ross – Sept 9, 2020 On this day in 1786, George Washington writes a letter on a difficult topic. His views on slavery had been changing for many years. Perhaps unfortunately for him, his new perspective on slavery was making it difficult for him to settle a…

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Convening a More Perfect Union

By Mike Kapic / September 18, 2020 / Comments Off on Convening a More Perfect Union

An essay of the history, value, and purpose of State Leaders convening to discuss national issues By Mike Kapic, Neal Schuerer, Marcus Costantino A More Perfect Union In the last decade, American’s approval of Congress has been hovering around 20% and a May 2019 Gallup poll found that 19% of American’s identified that the “most…

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Constitution Day Questions

By Mike Kapic / September 17, 2020 / Comments Off on Constitution Day Questions

In honor of the 233rd birthday of the Constitutional Convention signing, the following is offered. Too many Americans including our leaders, who take oaths to protect the Constitution, do not know the document. If you ask candidates  any of these questions, hopefully you’ll receive the same relative response. U.S. Constitutional Questions September 17, 2020 Author…

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From Problems to Solutions

By Mike Kapic / September 17, 2020 / Comments Off on From Problems to Solutions

Stop Admiring the Problem – Think Solutions By Robert B. Charles – September 3, 2020 We live in an age of admiring problems, by which I mean fretting and fixating, letting fear grab and shake us, then collectively getting into the grab, shake, blame, and complain game. To speak bluntly, that is not the American way. As…

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US: Bible is “Rock” of America

By Mike Kapic / September 16, 2020 / Comments Off on US: Bible is “Rock” of America

News Flash: US Government Declares Bible to be Word of God and “Rock” of America By Paul Gardiner – February 28, 2019 It is a safe bet that many Americans, especially those of the millennial generation, do not know that their federal government officially declared the Christian Bible (hereafter called “the Bible”) to be the…

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George Washington & Slavery

George Washington’s changing views on slavery

By Tara Ross – Sept 9, 2020

On this day in 1786, George Washington writes a letter on a difficult topic. His views on slavery had been changing for many years.

Perhaps unfortunately for him, his new perspective on slavery was making it difficult for him to settle a debt.

The estate of John Mercer owed him money. An attempt was made to pay off part of that debt by giving him some slaves, but Washington did not want that. Instead, he noted his reluctance to own any more slaves than he already had. He wrote:

“I never mean (unless some particular circumstances should compel me to it) to possess another slave by purchase; it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted, by the legislature by which slavery in this Country may be abolished by slow, sure, & imperceptable degrees.”

It is fashionable in some quarters today to blast our Founders as evil slave owners, but such a perspective is incomplete. Washington and our other Founders were born into a world where slavery was normal. DESPITE that handicap, many of them began to see the inconsistencies between the Revolution they were fighting and the institution of slavery.

Washington himself wrestled with the subject for years, although he never took a public stance against slavery. Should he have done so? Some scholars speculate that he never did take a public position because he was worried about breaking up the Union before it ever got off the ground.

Either way, Washington’s views were changing, and his actions reflected this evolving perspective. He quit selling slaves without their permission. He would not break up families, even when he had too many slaves and ran into cost inefficiencies at Mount Vernon. He softened his position on allowing black men to serve in the Continental Army during the Revolution. He met with the first black American poet, even giving her the respectful title, “Miss Phillis.”

Towards the end of his life, he would speak of slavery as the “only unavoidable subject of regret” in his life. Maybe it is unsurprising that he freed his slaves in his will?

None of us are perfect, and I suspect future generations will find plenty wrong with the things that we have done. But I hope they will also find things that we did right.

One thing that the Founders did right: Fifty-five of them met in a room in Philadelphia. They were learned men, students of history. They had studied various political systems. They were free from partisan interests. (Their biggest bias was in favor of their own states.) They lived at a unique point in history, and they came together with the goal of creating a uniquely successful government. And they did just that. In this author’s opinion, we do our country a disservice when we ignore the good things that these men did because we wish that they had overcome one (really) big flaw more quickly.

At the end of the day, don’t we think that our generation has made similar leaps?

Should our generation be remembered for what we were born into and struggled to overcome? Or should we be remembered for what we accomplished and who we became?

Presumably, George Washington and his peers would feel the exact same way.

Primary Sources: & Further Reading:

Tara Ross

Mike Kapic