Extract from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes of Proceedings in the Continental Congress

Congress proceeded the same day to consider the declaration of Independance which had been reported & laid on the table the Friday preceding and on Monday referred to a commee of the whole. the pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with, still haunted the minds of many. for this reason those passages which conveyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest they should give them offence. the clause too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina & Georgia who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. our Northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under those censures; for tho’ their people have very few slaves themselves yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.

MS (DLC). Published in PTJ, 1: 309–329
Date Range
July 2, 1776