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A Letter to Mr. Benjamin Franklin Concerning African Slavery

Dear Mr. Franklin,
I must say I admire you as a man of great reason who may look with a rational eye upon even the biggest difficulties of our country. You show great respect where it is deserved and you are a man who is immensely respected in turn. For these reasons I come to you with my honest opinion, seeking not your approval, but rather your recognition of it and perhaps analysis using a sensible eye.
In our country, a country which has fought nobly against corruption and injustice to its citizens by a higher power, the men are “created equal” and are living and prospering in this light. Yet, this prosperous livelihood was not earned through the pure hard work of those reaping its benefits. I beg your pardon to this statement; I am not belittling the work of the American men who not only fought to achieve liberty but also built a homeland from the ground up. Rather, I beg you to see the unimpeachable facts that work in the plantation fields day in and day out. Mr. Franklin, what makes a man a man? Is it his God-given body and spirit, with an incredible intellect that enables him to grow? Is a body walking upon this earth and making decisions while embracing the idea of a higher power no less a man because of the color of his skin? Sir, I do not believe this is the case. The Good Lord has taught us to treat others as we long to be treated and to value his creation. Did the Good Lord not create the men that work in our fields? Are we not to treat them with the same equality we show to our fellow Americans who, too, were created by God? In our country I see a regrettable contradiction. Recall the men who fought for our freedom and peace from the British tyrants who claimed authority over our souls. Would men who fought for such liberty want their gift tarnished by the horrible hypocrisy that is African enslavement? Sir, in your Autobiography, which I looked upon with an admiring eye, for it truly is a great masterpiece, you say, “Truth, sincerity, and integrity, in dealings between man and man, were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life." Can we say that the “dealings” between the slave ship captains and the slaves travelling in their hulls kept up the integrity of us Americans? Sir, I do not believe we can. I had the pleasure of reading the narrative of Olaudah Equiano, a slave travelling to the Americas. As I read, my mind was filled with gruesome images and I could hear the echoes of the “screaming and groaning” Mr. Equiano depicts. I do not believe we can achieve “felicity of life” when we have men who are no less human than yourself packed into a space where “the stench was so intolerably loathsome that it was dangerous to remain there for any time.” In America, we pride ourselves with our huge open skies and vast plains where we can breathe the fresh air of freedom every day. Imagine, sir, that our sky was eclipsed by a smoky fog, a fog filled with perspiration, foul odor, and the cries of the dying. Each breath we take suffocates us with the thickness of the atmosphere until we are left gasping on the ground. This is the air of slavery. We have lived in a similar condition while under the reign of Britain. Why then, would people who strived for freedom from these conditions who know the pain and depression that injustice caused want to force other innocent men into the same situation?
Again, I must implore you, Mr. Franklin, as a man of reason who believes in the “truth, sincerity, and integrity” we Americans possess, to bestow our happiness upon those who equally deserve it simply because they are our brothers and sisters in God. But remember, this is my humble opinion, as a woman with powerful thoughts that she can hardly control. You, sir, surely must understand the burden of powerful thoughts and how they must be released into the open where another can at least hear them, if not completely agree with their merit. As we move into an Age of Reason and logical importance, I believe we must take into account that which is not logical in our country. If you, however, do not agree that my argument is logical, then pray to the Lord, the lover of all creation, to soften your heart and heal your eyes so that the injustice happening before us now will not be left unrecognized.
Sincerely,
Georgiana Tucker



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