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February is Black History month. While many bad things have happened in America's past concerning people whose ancestry goes back to slavery, American history is what it is and it includes both the good and the bad. Today all we hear is the bad when it comes citizens of African descent.

First of all, prior to 1776, we were subjects of Great Britain and not free to make our own laws without repeal from a king 3,000 miles away. Slavery was a British institution. The South Seas Trading Company held a grant from Parliament for a monopoly on the slave trade, i.e. crony capitalism. In return for this monopoly, SSTC paid Parliament £250,000 annually which was used to pay Britain's enormous debt. 

Thomas Jefferson in 1768 drafted and passed a bill in Virginia for the abolishment of the slave trade in that colony. This bill was unanimous and was signed by George Washington. Consequently, King George III instantly vetoed the bill. Most of the other colonies passed similar acts with the same results. The veto against ending the slave trade in America was one of the causes of separation in the Declaration of Independence.

Mindful of the slavery issue, the signers of the Declaration of Independence used the phrase "pursuit of Happiness" instead of "property" as a God given right. Slavery was also the source of the first reason for separation, "He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

Our nation's Founders were well aware of the problems posed by the slavery issue. We can look back and blame them for its being part of America's origins. The truth of the matter was that they did everything possible to end its existence from the beginning. Succeeding generations failed to follow the "original intent" of the Founders and we are well aware of the cost in blood that it took to end an institution that was contrary to the Declaration of Independence.

Today we face many challenges of our own. Thank God that slavery is no longer one of them. Every American now has the freedom and responsibility to make the most of that freedom that was so dearly purchased by those who have gone before us. Freedom is not cheap or easy but it is worth the challenge. Freedom is an individual responsibility. It requires as in the words of George Washington "the great American experiment is whether man can truly govern himself."