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James Madison.

[Detail] James Madison.

Madison in Retirement: Slavery

Like many of his Virginia contemporaries, Madison seemed unable to come to terms with slavery. During the Revolution, he wrote a letter to Joseph Jones, stating his opposition to a Virginia proposal that would offer white enlistees slaves as a recruitment incentive.

When Madison went to Philadelphia to serve his first term in Congress, he took along Billey, one of his enslaved servants. While in Philadelphia, Billey sought his freedom. In a letter to his father, Madison explained that he was prohibited in Pennsylvania from selling Billey but had arranged for his indenture for seven years, writing that he "cannot think of punishing him by transportation merely for coveting that liberty for which we have paid the price of so much blood."

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