Essay on James Madison and the Slavery Issue

Essay on James Madison and the Slavery Issue

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James Madison and the Slavery Issue

The Revolutionary period of the United States was a time filled with much turmoil and confusion as to how this newly found nation, should be modeled. Many delicate issues were discussed and planned out to get the best outcome for all concerned. One of these issues that cast an ominous shadow over the new republic was the slavery issue. Some of the most prominent figures at the head of this nation wanted to bring about an end to it but continuously failed due to the inconvenience of finding a workable plan. The topic of this paper is a man who is thought to have little to do with the slavery issue but played a relatively large role. James Madison although a slave owner himself wanted to rid the nation of this constant nuisance to the one truth America was founded on, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Although he held many political offices, his opponents would contend that he did not take full advantage of them and should have been able to do more to eliminate the "evil" from society. In this paper, I plan to explain how James Madison was able to be very influential in the slavery issue.
James Madison's ideas of slavery being an evil and needing to be done away with are ideas that have an indefinite point of origin. Two evens that may have had a profound influence on these ideas happened only a few years before his birth. In June of 1737, a slave named Peter was found guilty by a court of Oyer and Terminer of "murthering his said master," and sentenced to be hanged (Scott, p. 134). Afterwards, Peter was beheaded and his head placed on a pole near a creek for all to...


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...ography." 3 (January, 1896): 308-10.

Ketchum, Ralph. James Madison: A Biography. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1971.

Koch, Adrienne. Madison's 'Advice to My Country." Princeton: University Press, 1966.

McCoy, Drew R. The Last of the Founding Fathers: James Madison and the Republican Legacy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Mellon, Matthew. Early American Views on Negro slavery; From the Letters and Papers of the Founders of the Republic. Boston: Meador Publishing Company, 1934.

Meyers, Marvin, ed. The Mind of the Founder: Sources of the Political Thought of James Madison. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1981.

Peterson, Merrill D., ed. James Madison: A biography in His own Words. New York: News Week, 1974.

Slaughter, Philip. The Virginian History of African Colonization. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1970.

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