Dear Editor: The recently published letter, "Presidents were benevolent slaveowners," directly contradicts the historical record. More importantly, it is deeply bigoted. And it denigrates the memory of the hundreds of thousands —Black and white — who perished fighting for the freedom of all Americans during the Civil War.
For more than 200 years, Black people were systematically tortured, raped, separated from our families and imprisoned in forced labor camps in both North and South. Pretending that enslaved people benefited from this cruel and evil treatment does an immense disservice to their memories. It also conveniently ignores the proud history of white Americans who bravely and rightfully fought to end the "Peculiar Institution." As far back as 1688, the writers of the Germantown Declaration decried slavery as unchristian and immoral. In the 18th century, Benjamin Lay and Anthony Benezet likewise denounced chattel slavery in no uncertain terms. They weren't the only ones.
Thomas Paine was a contemporary of Madison, Jefferson and Monroe. Without Paine's writing, fearless rabble-rousing and unrelenting dedication to human rights, this country arguably might never have been born. And even during the Age of Revolutions, Paine wrote that it was an "outrage against Humanity and Justice" for the former three to hold other human beings in bondage. Anyone who still makes weak excuses for slavers in 2021 should get a conscience — and some common sense.
Send your letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.