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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: June 21, 2002
Byline: Letter to the Editor: Robert Morris, Westtown

Whole story not told

Acel Moore's commentary, "Whole story of slavery, Liberty Bell still untold" (Commentary, May 16) did not tell the whole story because it intimated that Robert Morris, one of my ancestors, bought the freedom of America solely with the bondage of Africans, which is not true. By selecting Morris, about whom many know little, the author has the luxury of creating a first impression in the readers' minds. Saying Morris was a slave trader is like saying Lindbergh was pro-Nazi. It is like saying W.E.B. DuBois was an apologist for Stalin. All the above statements are true to some degree, but they do not represent the whole story, especially since Morris moved away from a horrid practice and toward economic liberty.

Morris developed the economic system that was used to free the slaves during the Civil War. It was capitalism that built the mills and factories that crushed the South. The capitalist system he instituted had no place for slavery; after all, capital is color blind.

In 1766, Morris organized the nonimportation agreement and made the importation of slaves illegal. He fought for checks and balances in government to counter the tyranny of the majority and protect the rights of all minorities. The people he worked with came from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds. His family members were abolitionists; his brother-in-law, Bishop William White, ordained as deacons Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, the founders of the AME Church. Most of Morris' friends and associates were committed to abolition. He freed slaves in the South and brought them to the North. Was he perfect in terms of 21st-century political correctness? No. Was he the devil portrayed in this commentary? Not even close.

 

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