“…And Heaven Was Silent”
“Thus we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment! But it is to be hoped it will not always be silent and that the friends to the rights of human nature will in the end prevail.”
This famous quote was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1786 regarding the abolition of slavery. Yes, I know,Thomas Jefferson in fact, owned slaves, had children by Sally Hemmings, who was his slave, so some would say that his thoughts on anything having to do with slavery would be a moot point. I realize that Jefferson, like so many, didn’t see people of color as anything else than a commodity, to be bought or sold, or disposed of.
So stay with me.
The reason why Thomas Jefferson made that statement was he had drafted a report that was submitted to the Continental Congress that after 1800 there would no longer be slavery. It wouldn’t have applied to the original 13 colonies, but would have abolished slavery in the rest of the United States.
This had to be voted on, but a delegate from New Jersey was ill and that state’s vote could not be cast.
Thomas Jefferson said:
“The voice of a single individual of the state which was divided … would have prevented this abominable crime from spreading itself over the new country. Thus, we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and Heaven was silent in that awful moment! But it is to be hoped it will not always be silent, and that the friends to the rights of human nature will in the end prevail.”
So you may be asking yourself, “Leslie, why are you talking about slavery? Why is this important? What does this have to do with the life issues you discuss?”
Well, it’s important because decisions were being made about people, who weren’t by some even considered a whole person. It’s important because, these same people didn’t have a voice in who determined their fate, and it’s important because a single individual could have changed the horrible history of slavery in this country in its beginning.This horrible stain on our history could have been eliminated.
Do any of these things sound familiar when we are talking about the unborn?
I know some people who adhere to a different ideology than the intrinsic value of life may be watching this, and possibly being angry that I am comparing a woman’s right to choose and slavery. However, if you break it down, they are EXACTLY the same. Some people, decided that other human beings, were less than human and therefore did not have the same inalienable rights as other people.Some people decided other people could be discarded at will because they did not have rights and were not wanted. Some people decided that one person’s rights were more important than another person’s rights. Some people thought that people of color were less intelligent than others, even though there was no, and STILL IS no scientific fact to support that idea.
Today, people will argue that the unborn are less human because at a certain stage they cannot survive outside the womb. That is true, however there is absolutely no scientific data that supports that a preborn child is not human.
Now, getting back to Thomas Jefferson, it seems that throughout his adult life he was conflicted about slavery and how to abolish the practice. Did he give up? Did he just get tired? Did it seem an unwinnable fight? Did he just stop caring?
How do we feel about standing up for the preborn? Are we tired? Does it seem like an unwinnable fight? Did we stop caring? The dark history of slavery still negatively affects us today. How much more will our nation be affected in the long term by not speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves?
Thus, we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man… or one woman.