|No Image for John Payne, Dolley Madison's Father|
William Penn was given Pennsylvania as a land grant. As a Quaker Penn forbid the trafficking of slaves in Pennsylvania and fair purchase prices for Native American land. Philadelphia was already established when he got it and Pennsylvania was to be a haven for Quakers to practice their religion with freedom from persecution.
A number of Quakers left Pennsylvania for the Carolinas (liberal Constitution) and Virginia where land was cheap, the weather milder, and slave ownership possible. But the slavery debate continued in the Quaker meetings.
Anyone who was involved in the Viet Nam war protests in the 60's and 70's in Philadelphia was aware of the leadership of the Quakers in the Resistance Movement. No longer in any kind of political control the Quakers were a moral force at that time and a center for attracting revolutionary minded dissidents and draft resisters.
In other words THEY WERE DANGEROUS!
And they were dangerous in the time of the colonies also. So much so in Virginia that in 1760 Virginia passed this law on slavery:
You can beat, maim, kill, rape, torture, breed, set dogs on, force fights to the death, well just about anything the perverse imagination can come up with, you can do.
The only thing you can't do is FREE this slave. And if you do this slave will never really be free. This slave will always be looking over her/his shoulder as there are stories of abductions and disappearances.
This Law also has an emptiness. The only thing you are not allowed to do is FREE your slave.
Dolley Madison's father was disturbed by the fact that he owned slaves to work his plantation in Virginia. About 50 of them. A large holding. He had converted to the Society of Friends after he married Mary Coles who had been disowned by the Quakers for marrying him, an Anglican. He becomes more Quaker than a Quaker as converts often are wont to do. And his conscience is troubled by the fact that he owns slaves.
Now who is responsible for this law? Does anyone think that the largest plantation owners in Virginia, the Washingtons, Jeffersons, Madisons, and Monroes were innocent of this law? We know James Madison's grandfather served in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1761-1769. He would have had to have known of this law. Who formulated it like this? And why?
Virginia was a bastion of slaveholding. In 1765, the Quaker minister John Griffith wrote that "the life of religion is almost lost where slaves are numerous....the practice being as contrary to the spirit of Christianity as light is to darkness." (p. 64) By 1769 the Paynes had come to believe that slaveholding was morally indefensible. Three months after the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Payne, Dolley's father freed one of his slaves in a formal declaration leaving no doubt as to his intent. Then he freed the rest of them. In defiance of Virginia Law.
So you see, the parrhesiastes is someone who takes a risk….Parrhesia, then, is linked to courage in the face of danger; it demands the courage to speak the truth in spite of some danger. And in its extreme form, telling the truth takes place in the “game” of life or death.
|Quotes from Foucault|
It is because the parrhesiastes must take a risk in speaking the truth that the king or tyrant generally cannot use parrhesia; for he risks nothing.
When you accept the parrhesiastic game in which your own life is exposed, you are taking up a specific relationship to yourself; you risk death to tell the truth instead of reposing in the security of a life where the truth goes unspoken. Of course, the threat of death comes from the Other, and thereby requires a relationship to the Other. But the parrhesiastes primarily chooses a specific relationship to himself: he prefers himself as a truth-teller rather than as a living being who is false to himself.