James madison and Slavery Essay

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James madison and slavery Slavery was a problem that faced all Americans in the years prior to the American Civil War. Many Americans wanted to bring about an end to it but were unable to come up with a workable plan. One person to try and find an answer to the problem was himself a slave owner; he was James Madison. The institution of slavery deeply concerned James Madison, even at the start of his political career. During his career, Madison held many important political offices; he used these offices to try to bring to an end this "evil" in his society. Some criticized him for not using his power to fuller advantage, but Madison had a plan for achieving his objective.

It is difficult to determine where James Madison's idea that
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The first direct reference to slavery in Madison's writings is in a letter written to Joseph Jones. Jones wrote Madison asking his opinion of offering a slave as a bonus to those who enlisted to fight in the war for independence. Madison responded by offering another solution to the lack of manpower by saying,

I am glad to find the legislature persist in their resolution to recruit their line of the army for the war, though without deciding on the expediency of the mode under their consideration, would it not be as well to liberate and make soldiers at once of the blacks themselves as to make them instruments for enlisting white Soldiers? It wd. certainly be more consonant to the principles of liberty which ought never to be loss sight of in a contest for liberty.4

On one of Madison's frequent trips to Philadelphia his slave Billey became too taken with the principles of the Declaration of Independence, in Madison's opinion, to be a fit companion for his fellow slaves in Virginia. In a letter to his father Madison wrote,

I . . . cannot think of punishing him by transportation merely for coveting that liberty for which we have paid the price of so much blood, and have proclaimed so often to be the right & worthy the pursuit, of every human being.5

Whatever arrangements Madison made for Billey, they could not have lasted for more than seven years according to Pennsylvania law. The

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