Lemuel Haynes

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Lemuel Haynes

Not everyone was over the moon about the Declaration of Independence. Lemuel Haynes, among others, voiced substantial criticism of the document and its failure to include freedom for all people.

Image of the Dunlap Broadside Declaration of Independence courtesy of the U.S. National Archives

Now that we've decided that the Founding Fathers might be more diverse than whoever signed a document or showed up for the Constitutional Convention, let's make good on our assertion. Time to learn about Lemuel Haynes, a true patriot whose writings inspired a much more aspirational -- and forward-thinking -- idea of American freedom.

Haynes was the son of a white mother and African father, and worked as an indentured servant before enlisting in the colonial militia -- many don't realize that more than 5,000 Africans (both slaves and free) fought in the Revolutionary War [source: White House]. A writer and poet, Haynes penned in 1776 an influential essay called "Liberty Further Extended" in response to the Declaration of Independence. A treatise against slavery, Haynes argued that liberty for one group of people justly meant freedom for all.

Haynes went on to become a preacher, where his congregations included both white and black worshippers (not the norm of the day.) But "Liberty Further Extended" is still considered one of the most forceful Revolutionary-era arguments against slavery, and one of the first authored by an African-American.

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