In 1776, the voices of our founding fathers echoed in the four corners of the country as they vehemently proclaimed their separation from the King of Great Britain with the following impassioned plea: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Their declaration of independence, which was delivered with eloquence, was also supported by a string of abuses supposedly committed by the monarchy which, according to them, repeatedly injured and abused their persons, usurped their authority over their own dominion as well as their future, and established absolute tyranny over a people who merely wanted to live freely and happily (Declaration of Independence, 1776).
Not knowing the founding fathers personally, the significant events that followed that declaration left me to wonder which of the following had been true at the time. Was everything a sham which was performed just for show? Did they not know what exactly they were saying? Or did they merely fell short of their self-appointed tasks? I am referring to the existence of abject slavery which persisted in full view of the founding fathers decades after those eloquent words had been uttered by the supposed victims of wrongful acts and abuses in the hands of the King of Great Britain. Nobody in his right mind could ever deny that slavery reduces a man to the category of a subhuman being.
For instance, when they declared self-righteously that “all men are created equal,” were they aware of the full meaning of the phrase? If they were, how could they treat Africans and later African-Americans like cows which could be sold and bought? Were they not aware that they were dealing with men like them who were created by the same creator and as such, had the same “unalienable rights” as they had? Cows are not men – they are animals. Treating fellow human beings like animals is undoubtedly the most inhuman and unfeeling act a man is capable of doing. Is it not inhuman, callous, and unfeeling to herd, sort, weigh, and deliver black-skinned people to their future owners after their life and liberty had been paid for? And yet the founding fathers and those who came directly after them not only abetted such actions but apparently benefited from slavery themselves. Indeed, the King of Great Britain had been a tyrant who injured them and usurped their God-given rights. If their words did not constitute a sham, what should we call it then?
Could it be possible that they actually mistook Africans as animals because of the color of their skin? If that had been the case, were they simply pitiably ignorant or detestable bigots for holding that only white-skinned people could be considered as human beings and as creatures of God? The universal truth is that all men are descendants of God having come from the first pair of humans. Even the unschooled could tell us this. Yes, even the illiterate possesses this elementary knowledge provided that they are believers of God. Yet these despicable men decreed that African-Americans should start their careers as slaves from the time of their birth. Had they already forgotten their pronouncement that one’s unalienable rights included “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”? How can a child expect to grow up and enjoy his or her life, or even hope to pursue happiness, in the persona of a slave? Are they ignorant then, or are they hopeless nonbelievers?
They may not look like black-skinned animals. However, their skins have proven tougher and thicker and their souls more callous – for only thick-skinned, soulless creatures could ever possess the capacity to separate members of one slave family as long as doing so would benefit their owners. For only callousness and the total absence of human feeling enables a human being to even deny slave families the right to suffer together. We often see dogs lick the wounds of their mate. Unfortunately, slaves could not even do this. Are they, then, lower than dogs? May God help this nation which had been founded on the belief that “all men are created equal.”
Declaration of Independence. (1776). Retrieved November 28, 2008, from