Sons of the Fathers

Sons of the Fathers : The Virginia Slavery Debates of 1831-1832

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Erik Root's book, Sons of the Fathers explores the Virginia Slavery Debate of 1831-1832, conducted in the House of Delegates. This is possibly the greatest debate to have occurred in any southern state before the Civil War. The speeches in this book provide, for the first time ever, an unedited version of that debate where many of the sons of America's Founders deliberated over the necessity of emancipating the slaves in Old Dominion. In August 1831, Nat Turner led the most successful slave rebellion in America's history, killing some 60 men, women, and children. This insurrection provided the historical backdrop to the proposal for a gradual emancipation plan. The forces for emancipation, led by Thomas Jefferson's grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, were defeated in the course of the debate as the members of the House of Delegates rejected that it was a necessity to free the slaves. As a result, rift between what is now Virginia and Western Virginia developed, never to heal. Some in the debates believed slaves had the same rights as every human being. Those who balked at emancipation diminished slavery as an "evil" and came closer to the view that the slaves were mere property. They affirmed that the slave was property and rejected the natural rights grounding of the Founding. In this collection of primary source material-which consists of the speeches made public to the press and the people-the reader will be able to decide just how close the emancipation forces attached themselves to the "laws of Nature and Nature's God." The reader will also be able to decipher how far many Virginians departed from not only the Declaration of Independence, but the Virginia Declaration of more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 175.26 x 256.54 x 27.94mm | 771.1g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739141716
  • 9780739141717

About Erik S. Root

Erik S. Root is chair of economic philosophy at West Liberty University. He is also the author of All Honor to Jefferson?.show more

Review quote

Sons of the Fathers shows Virginians struggling with their dual inheritance of liberty and slavery, a struggle that ultimately convulsed the United States. The debates it makes available offer valuable insight into the forces that shaped ante-bellum politics and should be read by anyone who cares to understand those politics. -- David Tucker, Naval Postgraduate School Virginians decided in drafting Article I of the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights that they would endeavor at once to maintain slavery and to establish a republican society. Yet, their decision became increasingly problematic as time wore on. Nat Turner's 1831 slave uprising brought the issue of slavery's future to the fore. This volume does a great service in providing a collection of the surviving speeches and some related materials from the Virginia General Assembly's 1831-32 emancipation debate, a debate that ultimately was resolved by Virginians' deciding, as in 1776, to maintain enslaved Africans among the citizens of the Virginia republic. -- Kevin Gutzman Kevin Gutzman, Western Connecticut State Universityshow more

Table of contents

Chapter 1. Introduction: Something Must be Done Chapter 2. First Day of Debate Chapter 3. Second Day of Debate Chapter 4. Third Day of Debate Chapter 5. Fourth Day of Debate Chapter 6. Fifth Day of Debate Chapter 7. Sixth Day of Debate Chapter 8. Seventh Day of Debate Chapter 9. Eighth Day of Debate Chapter 10. Ninth Day of Debate Chapter 11.Tenth Day of Debate Chapter 12. Eleventh Day of Debate Chapter 13. Twelfth Day of Debate Chapter 14. Thirteenth Day of Debate Chapter 15 Appendix A Legislative Petitions Chapter 16 Appendix B Related Speeches and other Documentsshow more