With its rising rhetoric on all men “created equal”, the Declaration of Independence gave a powerful voice to the values behind the American Revolution. Critics, however, saw a glaring contradiction: Many settlers who sought to break free from British tyranny bought and sold humans themselves. By supporting the nascent US economy through the brutal institution of the slavery of movable property, they have deprived about one-fifth of the population of their own “inalienable” right to liberty.
What is not widely known, however, is that the founding father Thomas Jefferson, in an early version of the Declaration, wrote a 168-word passage which condemned slavery as one of the many evils imposed on colonies by the British crown. The passage was cut from the final wording.