Thursday, March 22, 2007
Why they really moved the capital south
Two people enslaved by George Washington escaped after he transported them to Philadelphia where he intended to continue to hold them captive and force them to do household labor he would have otherwise had to do himself or pay somebody to do. Philadelphia's large, free African American population (the largest in the country in those days according to this book) along with many sympathetic white folks, many of whom were Quakers, made it possible for the two to live out the rest of their lives as free Philadelphians. The Inquirer has a front page story today about the long overdue groundbreaking for a monument to the enslaved people brought here by elected representatives and government employees from southern states during the first ten years of the current republic. Although the sale and purchase of enslaved people had been outlawed by a democratically elected government in Pennsylvania, the population (the vast majority of whom were opposed to enslaving other human beings) was forced by activist judges on the Supreme Court to tolerate the transport and captivity of enslaved people from southern states. Through what we know now was a very obscure but contagious learning disorder, the justices on the Supreme Court had defined personal property to include other people.