Which U.S. President signed a law banning the United States from participating in the international slave trade?
In 1807, the U.S. Congress passed and President Thomas Jefferson signed a law "to prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States." The law also prohibited any U.S. citizen from building, fitting, equipping, loading, or otherwise preparing a slave ship. Though Jefferson was born a slave owner and only freed 10 slaves, he was an outspoken opponent of slavery, passed laws to reduce it, and fought for laws to end it. His actions constituted a sea change in the history of slavery, which had been widely practiced since the dawn of recorded history. Jefferson was also the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and one of the most widely revered people in U.S. history until recent years. Now, he is often spurned and reviled for racism, but such accusations are often based on half-truths and out-of-context quotations.