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The First Emancipator

This morning I finished C.S. Lewis' On Stories an uneven collection of essays about literature, some worthwhile, some only so-so. Now though I've got The First Emacipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter--the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves by Andrew Levy. I have for as long as I can remember interested in this period of history especially when the question of slavery comes up. I like to see how people, some near geniuses, dealt with the great moral evil perpetuated in their midst, much like abortion is today. On the first page Levy writes that Carter presented a "Deed of Gift" to a Virginia court. In the document was the instructions to free his 450 slaves "more American slaves than any American slaveholder had ever freed, more American slaves than any American slaveholder would ever free."
Levy continues:
What made Carter's act even more striking, however, were the circumstances that surrounded it. Carter lived next to the Washingtons and the Lees. . . he was friend and peer to Jefferson, George Mason, Patrick Henry, and other members of the Revolutionary-era elite. And Robert Carter, at least at first, was wealthier than any of these men; owned more land, more slaves, as many books; and was the scion of the most powerful family of the Virginian eighteenth century. But as his friends and peers ascended to the mythic status of founders, Carter disappeared from the national stage: he died almost alone in a modest house on Green Street in Baltimore in 1804, and was buried in a grave that remains unmarked to this day.

And that's just the first two pages! Who was this guy? Why is there a book about him? I'm going to embark on a journey to find out. I'll let you know.


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