You constantly hear from the Left that the Founding Fathers were a gang of bigoted slave owners that could not possibly really believe in every man's unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Well, as usual, they are wrong. While the Founders were not perfect (no one is), and Jefferson himself owned slaves, they were thinkers. They understood that slavery was incompatible with liberty.
The following passage was written by Thomas Jefferson but omitted from the Declaration of Independence at the the insistence of the delegates from Georgia and South Carolina:
"He [King George] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the personal of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted the negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want to no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms amongst us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another."That is pretty strong language from a man that is branded by the Left as a slave-owning bigot that didn't care for the liberties of an entire race of people. It took an awful lot of balls on Jefferson's part to even present verbiage of this nature to the Continental Congress.
Jefferson and the rest of the Founders understood that it would have been impossible to unite the colonies if they were to take a staunch anti-slavery stance at that point in history. As we well know, many lost their lives later on to end the scourge of slavery.
James Madison in Federalist Paper No 42:
"It were doubtless to be wished, that the power of prohibiting the importation of slaves had not been postponed until the year 1808, or rather that it had been suffered to have immediate operation. But it is not difficult to account, either for this restriction on the general government, or for the manner in which the whole clause is expressed. It ought to be considered as a great point gained in favor of humanity, that a period of twenty years may terminate forever, within these States, a traffic which has so long and so loudly upbraided the barbarism of modern policy; that within that period, it will receive a considerable discouragement from the federal government, and may be totally abolished, by a concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory example which has been given by so great a majority of the Union. Happy would it be for the unfortunate Africans, if an equal prospect lay before them of being redeemed from the oppressions of their European brethren!"Many more of these quotes can be found here.