Berkley County virginia 7th. mo 10th. 1806
To Thomas Jefferson, President of the united States of Americai, the following lines are humbly presented, May it Pleas the President.
I being a free born Citizan of the united States, feel anxious for the Prosperity thereof, and my mind having been much exercised a long time on account of a Certain Class of our inhabitants, I hope thou wilt excuse my freedom in thus addressing thee (not on their behalf only, but also) on behalf of our nation. I have been a silent admirer of thy wise Administration, have Carefully perused thy addresses from time to time to Congress and have hoped to see something therein presented, respecting that much injured species of mankind, the African race. but tho my hopes, in that respect have hitherto been in vain, I Cannot think that people have altogether escaped thy serious Consideration. permit me therefore to lay before thee, in simplicity, and in the uprightness of my heart, and Justness of my intentions, a few Considerations, as they present in the view of my mind. the Inhumanity of the practice of holding mankind in perpetual Slavery, the impropriety, and inconsistancy thereof (I think) Cannot have escaped thy notice, tho I do not even suppose that it is in thy power to liberate that oppressed part of our inhabitants yet I believe it is in thy power to do more in their behalf at this period than any other man in the union, I therefore recommend to thy serious Consideration, that solemn Proclamation of the Almighty, by the mouth of his servant, the Prophet Isaiah, 58, 6 & 7th. is not this the fast that I have Chosen to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke. is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are Cast out of thy house, when thou seest the naked that thou Cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thy own flesh.—
I entreat thee to remember that all men are equally born free, and have an equal right to be protected, in life, liberty and property. are not these inviolable laws of nature, Can that divine being, who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, or look on inequity with the least degree of approbation, look with impunity on the enlightened inhabitants of our land, in the open and long Continued violation of the laws of nature, and of natures God. does he not now Call for the bands of wickedness to be loosed, and the oppressed let go free; Can there be a greater Stigma on our national Charecter; and the exalted freedom of which we boast; is it possible that a practice Could exist pregnant with more evils, or more likely to draw down the great displeasure, and heavy Judgments of the most high God, upon the inhabitants of our Land. I dread the Consequence, I shuder under the prospect of the Continuation of the yoke of bondage. was there more Cause administered by that people to whome this solemn query was proposed by the prophet Jeremiah; Shall I not visit for these things Saith the Lord, Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this.
I earnestly beseech thee to use thy influence to Cause the heavy burdens to be undone, and the oppressed let go free, that the heavy yoke of bondage may be broken, by a way that Shall redownd to the everlasting honour and benifit of our nation. that this part of our species within our borders may be put upon the Common foot of humanity, then may we with propriety, and full Confidence look for this promiss to be verefied unto us. then Shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health spring forth speedely; and thy righteousness Shall go before the: the Glory of the Lord Shall be thy rereward. then Shall thou Call and the Lord Shall answer; thou Shalt Cry and he Shall say here am I; if thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the puting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity. and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and Satisfie the afflicted Soul; then Shall thy light rise in obscurity and thy darkness shall be as noon day, and the Lord Shall guide thee Continually, and satisfie thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou Shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. Isah.98.8 &c.—Prove me now herewith Saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there Shall not be room enough to receive it, and I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he Shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine Cast her fruits before the time in the field, and all nations shall Call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsom land, Saith the Lord of hosts. Mal. 3rd. 10. 11. 12—I hope thou wilt duly Consider these things, and follow the advice of the wise king solomon whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might. Ecclel. 9th. 10th
And while I am favoured to feel that earnest breathing of soul, I shall ever pray for the prosperity of our nation, and thy present and Everlasting Wellfare.
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.