What a Founding Father thought about a nation of freemen built by slaves–but kept secret during the Constitutional Convention

On July 9, 1787 in Philadelphia, the 50-something delegates to the Constitutional Convention argued intensely over how much a slave was worth while at the same time completely omitting the word “slavery” from the Constitution they were writing.

As they argued that day, Delaware’s delegate John Dickinson wrote these notes for a speech:

“Acting before the World, What will be said of this new principle of founding a Right to govern Freemen on a power derived from Slaves… giving to others what they have not.

“Omitting the WORD will be regarded as an an Endeavor to conceal a principle of which we are ashamed.”

He never gave the speech.

He sat quietly, keeping his outrage to himself.