[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.
Wife of John Adams, mother of John Quincy Adams; 1744—1818.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, second President; 1735—1826.
Son of John and Abigail Adams, diplomat, senator, sixth President, congressman; 1767—1848.
Political philosopher, Boston revolutionary leader, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1722—1803.
American painter, active in England; 1761—1831.
American painter, principally active in London after 1774; 1738—1815.
American painter; 1751—1801.
British general, Royal Governor of Massachusetts, ordered troops to Concord; 1719/20—87.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, vice president under Madison; 1744—1814.
Boston merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1737—93.
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)