Did John Adams own slaves? #203

Series on Presidential Slavery

John AdamsSecond President United States of America

He was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Father who served as the second President of the United States. He was a leader of the American Revolution and served as the first vice president of the United States.

Many of the Continental Congress and the Founding Fathers voiced their opinion on slavery including John Adams. He and especially his wife Abigail, were opposed to slavery, but it seems that his views on race were mostly in line with the times. 

Yet, he did not own slaves, his family was of modest wealth, and Adams was morally opposed to slavery and refused to employ slaves. His wife, Abigail Adams, went so far as to employ free blacks for labor as opposed to the two domestic slaves owned by her father. She also helped educate a young African American man in an evening school and their own family home while living in Philadelphia.

However, during the War of Independence, he was opposed in the use of black soldiers out of fear of losing Southern support for the Continental Army.  For John Adams, slave owner opinion seemed to nullify his approach to the subject during his political career.

Unfortunately, John Adams’ views on slavery were not so proactive. As a member of the Massachusetts State Legislature, Adams openly opposed legislation on the abolition of slavery in the state on the grounds that the issue was too conflict-ridden. He even wrote that legislation opposed to slavery should “sleep for a time” until it was less troublesome. Little did he know how many people would die settling the issue some decades into the future?

Yet, he was on the record as critical of the “privileged” Southern society whose power depended on human bondage. His slavery views became more obvious as he condemned the practice as “an evil of colossal magnitude” and worried about the effect slavery would have on the nation in the future. For him slaves were human beings and fully deserved the rights ordained by God that all men were granted.

EAJM

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7 thoughts on “Did John Adams own slaves? #203

  1. Interesting history lesson on John Adams. You get so many conflicting stories about people on line. One sight said Adams owned one slave. I truly have always liked history. My favorite president has always been Abraham Lincoln.

    Liked by 1 person

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