The North and South American masters that kept slaves are today criticized for it. Their income of course depended on slave labor. Anywhere in the Americas, did any of them free their slaves -- not at death like Thomas Jefferson tried to do, but all at once, perhaps following a moral epiphany?

  • @RedGrittyBrick i removed the term to clarify that cases of (legal) slavery in Imperial Brazil or the independent U.S. would also qualify. Dec 9, 2016 at 16:31

1 Answer 1


Yes, some did. Ironically, one of them was Roger B. Taney, US Supreme Court Chief Justice and author of infamous Dred Scott decision.

Contrary to popular believe, Robert Lee did not free his slaves - he did not own slaves. His father-in-law named Robert Lee an executioner of his will. According to this will, all his slaves should be set free in 5 years after his death.

UPDATE. I don't know if Roger Taney freed his domestic slaves, or they worked his land. But John Dickinson, founding father and largest Delawer farmer and slaveowner, freed his slaver by 1786. His farm moved from tobacco to less labor-intensive crops.

  • Did Taney have a plantation with slaves as specified in the question , or were these his household or personal servants? The question seems to be focused on slaves which were providing income for their owners.
    – justCal
    Dec 10, 2016 at 20:19
  • @user2448131 I think masters that kept household or personal servants are criticized for it today as much as planters. Dec 11, 2016 at 4:40

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