August 1, 1791: Virginia Planter Robert Carter III Frees His Slaves

Robert Carter III filed a Deed of Gift to gradually emancipate his slaves (fifteen slaves each year over twenty-one years): “I have for some time past been convinced that to retain them in Slavery is contrary to the true principles of Religion and Justice and therefore it is my duty to manumit them.”

Andrew Levy’s The First Emancipator: the Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves details Carter’s life, the Deed of Gift, and the ideas behind it and the reactions to it. One anonymous correspondent wrote “A man has almost as good a right to set fire to his own building, though his neighbors is to be destroyed by it, as to free his Slaves.”


That was an impressive thing to do but I wonder how thrilled the slave was who was not scheduled to be freed for another twenty-one years.

Mustapha, "Hope springs eternal."