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Conflict Of Interest
A Weekly Column By Walter B. Hoye II

In the abortion debate, is there a "Conflict of Interest" within the Black community and among her leaders?





Issue No.: 2012.128

Environmental Products (1)
George Washington And Slavery Was Slavery A Product Of Its Environment?

Slavery In The General's House (1775-1783)
"It is foremost in my thoughts, to desire you will be particularly attentive to my Negros in their sickness; and to order every Overseer positively to be so likewise; for I am sorry to observe that the generality of them, view these poor creatures in scarcely any other light than they do a draught horse or Ox; neglecting them as much when they are unable to work; instead of comforting & nursing them when they lye on a sick bed. I lost more negros last winter than I had done it 12 or 15 years before, put them altogether. If their disorders are not common, and the mode of treating them plain, simple and well understood, send for Doctor Craik in time. In the last stage of the complaint it is unavailing to do it. It is incurring an expense for nothing." — George Washington, a letter written to Anthony Whitting, his Mount Vernon

plantation manager in 1792. 1

George Washington was a slave-owner for the majority of his life. Early in life Washington inherited ten (10) slaves when he was an eleven (11) year old boy. 2 By the date of his death he owned more than 300 slaves at his Mount Vernon residence including forty (40) leased from his neighbor and not including the 153 "dower slaves" which belonged to Martha by way of first 3 husband, Daniel Parke Custis. Like all other plantation owners that had large sums of money invested in slavery, Washington's slaves worked all day unless they were injured or ill 4. Legally Washington's slaves could be whipped for trying to escape or for any other violation of the law. 5 "Bottom-Line Economics" demanded that slaves were fed, clothed, and housed as inexpensively as possible, in conditions that can only be described at best as meager.

Slavery In The President's House (1790-1797)
"When a slave named Paul ran away in March 1795 with a neighbor's slave, George Washington, concerned about his name surfacing in northern papers, advised William Pearce (his plantation manager) to avoid any publicity and wrote: "It is highly probable Paul has left these parts (by water or land). If Mr. Dulany is disposed to pursue any measure for the purpose of recovering his man, I will join him in the expence so far as it may respect Paul; but I would not have my name appear in any advertisement, or other measure, leading to it." — George Washington, his March 22, 1795 Philadelphia letter to William Pearce. 6

Slavery was legal in all thirteen (13) of the American Colonies before the American Revolutionary War. 7 Slaves were considered valuable property and as a large plantation owner Washington had large sums of money invested slave labor. 8 However, by 1780 and largely by the efforts of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society (PAS), 9 Pennsylvania became the first former colony to abolish slavery. While the law did not free slaves immediately, it did offer gradual emancipation. By law slaves were registered as property, so the children born of a registered Pennsylvania slave mother after the law was in force had the legal status of indentured servants when they reached the 10 age of twenty-eight (28). So legal slavery continued in Pennsylvania until 11 1847. As the first President of the United States of America, George Washington lived in Philadelphia in the President's House from 1790 to 1797. 12 To avoid having Pennsylvania laws apply to his slaves, Washington maintained his residency in Virginia by making sure that neither he nor his slaves spent the six (6) continuous months necessary to establish legal residency in

Philadelphia. 13

Slavery In The President's Politics (1790-1797)
"I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State could see the policy of a gradual abolition of slavery." — George Washington, in a letter to his nephew and private secretary, Lawrence Lewis. 14

After the American Revolutionary War George Washington personally rejected the institution of slavery, yet while serving as the President of the United States he supported the 1790 Naturalization Act approved by the First Congress 15 that incorporated foreigners as United States citizens, but provided for 16 naturalization only of whites and authorized emergency financial and military relief to French slave owners in Haiti to suppress the slave rebellion of 1791. 17 Washington also signed the compromise Northwest Territory Act that banned slavery in that territory, but did not free those that were already slaves. Further still, in 1793 Washington signed the Fugitive Slave Law that gave slaveholders the right to recapture runway slaves even in free states that had abolished slavery. 18

! Yes, slavery was indeed a product its environment!

Was George Washington A Product Of His Environment?
"Prior to the great Revolution, the great majority … of our people had been so long accustomed to the practice and convenience of having slaves that very few among them even doubted the propriety and rectitude of it." — George Washington, to the English Anti-Slavery Society in June 1788 19

· "Were it not that I am principled against selling Negroes … I would not in twelve months from this date be possessed of one
as a slave." — George Washington, in a letter to Alexander Spotswood on Sunday, November 23rd, 1794. 20


"It is demonstratively clear that on this Estate (Mount Vernon) I have more working Negroes by a full [half] than can be

employed to any advantage in the farming system." — George Washington, in a letter to Robert Lewis on Sunday, August 18th, 1799. 21

· "[H]alf the workers I keep on this estate would render me greater net profit than I now derive from the whole." — George
Washington, in a letter to Robert Lewis on Sunday, August 18th, 1799. 22

· "To sell the overplus [of slaves] I cannot, because I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species. To hire
them out is almost as bad because they could not be disposed of in families to any advantage, and to disperse [break up] the families I have an aversion." — George Washington, in a letter to Robert Lewis on Sunday, August 18th, 1799. 23

George Washington was born into a wealthy family that profited from the slave labor on their tobacco plantations. By 1732, the provincial gentry of Colonial Virginia was little more than a slave society, a world where the right to own slaves was protected and the right to emancipate slaves was prohibited by law. 24 ! Yes, George Washington was a product of his environment, however, while Washington was a slave-owner, he was also a devoted husband to Martha, a decorated general who fought for freedom in the service of Virginia's provincial militia, a commanderin-chief who "wrenched the rights of all Americans from the tyrannical grasp of the British" 25 in the service of the Continental Army, a skilled facilitator who presided over the writing of the our Constitution and a widely respected leader who became our first President. 26 Above all George Washington was a praying man, wholly committed to his Christian faith, however, therein lies the crux of the matter. With the blessings that come from having a wife, family and friends, Washington chose to work within a government whose majority embraced or at the very least, tacitly consented to, the incontestable evil of slavery. With a career that can only come from the blessings of a divine appointment, Washington retired from serving a system entirely based on the "art of compromise" 27 where in the "final solution" participants are expected to resign their conscience in the interest of practicality, profit and peace. ! Yes, George Washington was indeed a product of his environment, but frankly, so are we. So long as profits trump purpose, power trumps peace, politics trumps people, victory trumps values, race trumps religion and preservation trumps principle we are all the products of our environment.

"Be Of Good Cheer; It Is I; Be Not Afraid!"
"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased." — Matthew 14:25-32 (King James Version) 28

Like it or not, there is such a thing as evil. Lurking in the depths of our souls is an evil that pushes us beyond the white sandy shores of safety into the dark, deep and dangerously cold and open waters of uncertainty, vagueness and soul searching questions. Questions such as … Will God save us, if we nonviolently resist a law that is immoral, as in the case of the abolitionist resisting the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law 29 by refusing to turn over escaped slaves to authorities? Will God take care of us, if we nonviolently resist laws in order to physically lay claim to God-given rights, such as freedom, equality and life itself, as in the case of Black Americans illegally protesting during the Civil Rights movement? 30 Will God protect us, if we nonviolently resist laws in order to change immoral policies endorsed by our government such as slavery, segregation, euthanasia and abortion on demand? These are the kind of questions that flood our minds and invade our very soul as we choose to live out our faith in Christ on earth.

Today, we're at a point where our babies are dismembered in their own mother's womb on demand, our elderly are gravely threatened with euthanasia and our religious freedom is at stake. What is it going to take for us to realize that the "art of compromise" is not the means to a righteous end? The Bible says Peter walked on water, but when the waters got high and the lightning started to flash and the winds began to blow Peter feared for his life and cried out "Lord save me!" The Bible also says "and immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him." In my opinion, even though the troubled waters of our world are deep and dark, like Peter, Christ is bidding us to walk on water with Him. I believe it's time for us to stop being afraid of the deep and the dark, so the Holy Spirit can move us far beyond the "art of compromise" as an expression of our holy and righteous indignation. I believe God is calling us to join Him walking on the water. If we resist civil government: Will God save us? Will God take care of us? Will God protect us? Well, He's already caught Peter and saved him, so that answers my question. What answer are you waiting for? Brothers, we really need to talk.

· Many, many thanks to David Barton of Wallbuilders. "WallBuilders is an organization dedicated to presenting America's
forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built — a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined. In accord with what was so accurately stated by George Washington, we believe that 'the propitious [favorable] smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation which disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.'" You can visit Wallbuilder's highly recommended website by clicking here: Reference(s): 01. "George Washington, "The Writings of George Washington: 1790-1784," by Goeorge Washington ( See also Anthony Whitting, October 14th, 1792, Washington Papers, Library of Congress. "That Species of Property", Washington's Role in the Controversy Over Slavery by Dorothy Twohig ( 02. George Washington And slavery, "Early Life," Wikipedia ( 03. Ibid. 04. Ibid. 05. Ibid. 06. John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. "The Writings of George Washington," Washington, D.C., 1931-44., Volume 34:154. Letter to William Pearce, March 22, 1795. ( 07. Laurie Halse Anderson, Forge, "The Sequel to the National Book Award Finalist "Chains", ( 08. Edward Lawler, Jr., "Slavery in the President's House" ( 09. Richard S. Newman, "The Pennsylvania Aboliton Society Restoring a Group to Glory" ( 10. Edward Lawler, Jr., "Slavery in the President's House" ( 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid. 13. Ibid. 14. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Vincent Harding, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos Or Community?," The King Legacy in association with Intellectual Properties Management, Inc., page 80. ( 15. Naturalization Act of 1790, Wikipedia ( See also "A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875" ( 16. Ibid. 17. George Washington And slavery, "Early Life," Wikipedia ( 18. Ibid. 19. David Barton, "George Washington, Thomas Jefferson & Slavery in Virginia," Wall Builders ( 20. Ibid. 21. Ibid. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. 24. George Washington, Wikipedia ( See also Peter Kolchin, American Slavery, 1619-1877, New York: Hill and Wang, 1993, page 28. ( 25. George Washington And slavery, "Early Life," Wikipedia ( See also George Washington, Wikipedia ( 26. Dorothy Twohig, The Papers of George Washington, "'That Species of Property' Washington's Role in the Controversy Over Slavery" ( 27. The "Final Solution," Wikipedia ( 28. Matthew 14:25-32 ( 29. George Washington And slavery, "Early Life," Wikipedia ( 30. African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968), Wikipedia (

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