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« Open Adoption and Other Matters (John Ballard) | Main | Pain After Death (John Ballard) »

October 02, 2012

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I knew he owned slaves. And with the comfortable ease with which we all excuse the shortcomings of others my compartmentalized thinking had overlooked that side of his history, excusing it (in the same way that I had to excuse the racial bigotry and uncorrectable ignorance of some in my own family) as part of the fabric of the time in which he lived.

But I was wrong. Many of his contemporaries were well ahead of him in their anti-slavery positions. Among them was none other than George Washington himself.

You are absolutely right. It is not always easy or even right to judge the values of historical figures. We can forgive many human shortcomings as the function of their time. Yet, as you point out, it is those who listen to their conscience and buck the trend, that are the true visionaries and reformers.

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