Virginia considers abolition in 1831

Dave Wilma

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I just learned that the Virginia legislature considered a bill to gradually abolish slavery in 1831. The Nat Turner insurrection killed that. Talk about a what if. This seems to follow other trends in the North such as no child born after a certain date was automatically a slave.

Does anyone have any details of this legislation?
 

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I just learned that the Virginia legislature considered a bill to gradually abolish slavery in 1831. The Nat Turner insurrection killed that. Talk about a what if. This seems to follow other trends in the North such as no child born after a certain date was automatically a slave.

Does anyone have any details of this legislation?
According to William W. Freehling in his book, The Road to Disunion, it was the wife of Thomas Jefferson's grandson who prompted her husband, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, to go before Virginia's legislature and propose a manumission and removal law for all slaves due to her fear of future uprisings in Virginia. Jane Randolph was so terrified as a result of Turner's insurrection that she demanded that their family "quit at once and move North." Her husband responded by telling her that "the danger is to our children's children 40 or 50 years hence, not to us."

On January 16, 1832, as a result of his wife's fear and prodding, Thomas Jefferson Randolph gave a speech in front of the Virginia House in which he predicted a "dissolution of the Union" and invasion of Virginia by black troops where Virginians would be "butchered and their homes desolated." To prevent this eerie scenario from fruitation, Randolph called for the manumission and colonization of all children of slaves born on or after July 4, 1840. It is Randolph's speech that initiated "the legislature's historic debate" about the ending of slavery in Virginia.
 

gem

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The debate actually took place in 1832 for 2 weeks in the Virginia legislature.

This was in response to Nat Turner's uprising in 1831.

Not much came out of the debate. Thomas Jefferson Randolph discussed a plan of gradual emancipation and then a way to get blacks out of Virginia possibly sending them to Africa. however, the debates ended without anything meaningful coming out.

The way I see these debates as similar to how Virginia has always seen slavery in the past.
They were conflicted; the desire to end an evil vs the pleasure evil brings. However, like the Virginia FF they decided to procrastinate, kick the can down the road if you will.
 

gem

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I just learned that the Virginia legislature considered a bill to gradually abolish slavery in 1831. The Nat Turner insurrection killed that. Talk about a what if. This seems to follow other trends in the North such as no child born after a certain date was automatically a slave.

Does anyone have any details of this legislation?
The idea that the Nat Turner killed the debate is a common misnomer its one that i've heard many times before. I don't know if it came about as a propaganda point to make VA seem like the good guy, "we were going to liberate slaves if only it had not been for the Turner insurrection"

Nevertheless, VA slave debate was in response to Nat Turner, not that Turner squashed the debate.
 


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