- If slavery was a neutral thing for most colonials and early Americans, the Founding Fathers are on record with a position. On the one end Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton were against it; in the middle Thomas Jefferson, while believing that enslaved blacks should be free, also believed they were inferior — and never found a way to divorce himself and his way of life from his Monticello plantation and his
little mountainof slavery.
There is a more nuanced middle inhabited by James Madison — slave-owner, political philosopher and practical repositioner,
three-fifths-er, and Father of the Constitution — who truly believed that Africans were equal to whites yet never found a way to let go of the
peculiar institutionenjoyed by the South. See Noah Feldman on James Madison’s Lessons in Racism (29-Oct-2017) for a look at Madison and his evolving political positions vs. his unchanging personal one.
Madison's Lessons in Racism
Loyalism was a siren call for the British. They were constantly bending their strategy to conform to the chimera of Loyalist support that was assumed to be there but somehow never materialized. Howe’s Philadelphia campaign and Burgoyne’s invasion from Canada, as well as the British strategy in the South, were based on the assumption that large numbers of Loyalists would rise in support, if only sufficiently encouraged and protected ...