Which U.S. Presidents Owned Slaves?

John Tyler (1841-1845)

1835: In the House of Representatives, John Tyler proposed eliminating the slave trade (but not slavery) in the  District of Columbia.  “Mr Tyler stated that… [he] had a decided objection to the District of Columbia being made a slave mart, a depot for the slaves brought from the two neighboring states.”  (Tyler, v1.  p571)


 1835: Tyler describes an Abolitionist publication to a gathering of Virginians.  “Here…is a picture upon the  external covering, designed to represent each of you, gentlemen.  A scourge is in your hand, and three victims bound  and kneeling at your feet.  You are represented as demons in the shape of men; and by way of contrast, here stands [Abolitionist] Arthur Tappan, Mr. Somebody Garrison, or Mr. Foreigner Thompson, patting the greasy little  fellows on their cheeks and giving them most lovely kisses.”  (Tyler. v.1  p576)


 1836:  Tyler opposed the suggestion that slavery be eliminated in the District of Columbia, which had been ceded to the government by Maryland and Virginia.  “To interfere with the subject of slavery, not only without,  but against the consent of the people of Maryland and Virginia, would be in flagrant violation of the public faith, an  abuse of the trust conferred on Congress by the cession, and hazardous of the peace and security of these two  states.” (Tyler. v1,  p581)


 1838:  Newly elected president of the Virginia Colonization Society Tyler compared this movement to send  free Blacks to Africa to the Abolition movement.  “Policy and humanity go hand and hand in this great work… Philanthropy , when separated from policy, is the most dangerous agent in human affairs.  It is no way distinguishable  from fanaticism.  It hears not, sees not, and understands not….  And is there not a spirit of that sort now at work in  our own fair land?  It is the antagonist of that which we cherish.  It invades our hearth, assails our domestic circles,  preaches up sedition, and encourages insurrection…  in a word, it is the spirit of abolition.”  (Tyler.  v1,  p568-9)


 1838:  “[God] works most inscrutably to the understandings of men; - the negro is torn from Africa, a barbarian,  ignorant and idolatrous; he is restored civilized, enlightened, and a Christian.”  (Tyler.  v1, p569)