[Of those opposed to slavery,] George Washington belonged, with Mason and Jefferson, in the hardest category — disapproving owners. Theirs was the most difficult position to maintain, psychologically and rhetorically. It would not be maintained over the next sixty years, as southern antislavery rhetoric withered. Practically and politically, disapproving owners were in the hardest position from which to achieve their goals. How do you weaken an institution in which you and all your neighbors are enmeshed? Washington did enough, finally, to free his own slaves, which was more than many owners in his position did. Jefferson never freed all his, nor did any of the other slave-owning presidents.
Sons of Liberty
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, second President; 1735—1826.
Political philosopher, Boston revolutionary leader, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1722—1803.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Rhode Island; 1727 - 1820.
Boston merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1737—93.
Lawyer, orator, Virginia governor; 1736—99.
Lawyer, politician, Boston revolutionary; 1725—83.
American painter, soldier; created first American museum; 1741—1827.
Militia general, effectively fought the British at Bunker Hill; 1718—90.
Artisan, Boston revolutionary, militia soldier, foundryman; 1735—1818.
Boston doctor, revolutionary, militia general; died at the Battle of Bunker Hill; 1741—75.
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)