6 Feb 2013
As of this moment, this clip registers 18,154 views.
Not enough. Not nearly enough.
This video should be posted every day during "Black History Month" and weekly during the rest of the year.
In an earlier post, Hugh mentioned the author Theodore Parker.
Hugh Fitzgerald mentioned the author, "Theodore Parker" last month. Parker wrote "Historic Americans", in which he describes founding father, Ben Franklin, abolitionist extraordinaire, quoting the koran in defending his abolition petition to Congress. You can read it online here: “Historic Americans” or http://tinyurl.com/aa96dnm
You see the young nation in its infancy. “Hercules in his cradle, “ said Franklin; but with a legion of the mystic serpents about him. If the rising sun shines auspicious, yet the clouds threaten a storm, long and terrible. “
VI. Franklin, an old man of eighty-four, is making ready to die. The great philosopher, the great statesman, he has done with philosophy and state craft, not yet ended his philanthropy. He is satisfied with having taken the thunderbolt from the sky, bringing it noiseless and harmless to the ground; he has not yet done with taking the sceptre from tyrants. True, he has, by the foundation of the American state on the natural and inalienable rights of all, helped to set America free from the despotism of the British king and Parliament. None has done more for that. He has made the treaty with Prussia, which forbids privateering on land or sea. But now he remembers that there are some six hundred thousand African slaves in America, whose bodies are taken from their control, even in time of peace – peace to other men, to them a period of perpetual war. So in 1787, he founds a society for the abolition of slavery. He is its first President, and in that capacity signed a
petition to Congress, asking “the restitution of liberty to those unhappy men, who alone in this land of freedom are degraded into perpetual bondage;” asks Congress “that you will step to the very verge of the power vested in you for discouraging every species of traffic in the persons of our fellow-men.” This petition was the last public act of Franklin, the last public document he ever signed. He had put his hand to the Declaration of Independence; to the treaties of alliance with France and Prussia; to the treay of peace with Great Britain, now he signs the first petition for the abolition of slavery.
Between 1783 and 1790 what important events had taken place! For three years he had been President of Pennsylvania, unanimously elected by the Assembly every time save the first, when one vote out of seventy-seven was cast against him. He had been a member of the Federal Convention, which made the Constitution, and, spite of what he considered to be its errors, put his name to it. Neither he, nor Washington, nor indeed any of the great men who helped to make that instrument, thought it perfect, or worshipped it as an idol. But now, as his last act, he seeks to correct the great fault, and blot, and vice of of the American government – the only one which, in seventy-six years, has given us much trouble. The petition was presented on the 12th of February, 1790. It asked for the abolition of the
slave trade, and for the emancipation of slaves. A storm followed; the South was in a rage, which lasted till near the end of March. Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, defended the “peculiar institution.” The ancient republics had slaves; the whole current of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, proved that religion was not hostile to slavery. On the 23rd of March, 1790, Franklin wrote for the National Gazette the speech in favor of the enslavement of Christians. He put it into the mouth of a member of the Divan of Algiers. It was a parody of the actual words of Mr. Jackson, of Georgia, as delivered in Congress a few days before; the text, however, being taken out of the Koran. It was one of the most witty, brilliant, and ingenious things that came from his mind. This was the last public writing of Dr. Franklin; and, with the exception of a letter to his sister and one to Mr. Jefferson, it was the last line which ran out from his fertile pen. - writen only twenty-four days before his death. What a farewell it was!
This old man, “the most rational, perhaps of all philosophers,” the most famous man in America, now in private life, waiting for the last angel to unbind his spirit and set hime free from a perishing body, makes his last appearance before the American people as President of an abolition society, protesting against American slavery in the last public line he writes! One of his wittiest and most ingenious works is a plea for the bondman,
adroit, masterly, short, and not to be answered. It was fit to be the last scene of such a life. Drop down the curtain before the sick old man, and let his healthy soul ascend unseen and growing.