Michelle Bachmann is taking heat from the ObamaMedia because she said that the founding fathers of this country “worked tirelessly” to end slavery. She’s been pretty much under attack for that statement for the past four or five days.
As we begin this discussion on slavery, the founding fathers and our Constitution — know this. Most liberals — and by most we mean close to 100% of the progs you would find in and around any major college or university campus, and pretty much the same percentage living and working in Washington DC — absolutely and completely despise our Constitution. They want it gone. The want it out of the way, invalidated and ignored. I guess you could say that liberals want the Constitution to be declared unconstitutional.
The Constitution is in the way … always in the way of the leftist agenda. The Tenth Amendment, though largely ignored, looms as a threat to the liberal dream of an all-powerful centralized government – that antiquated document written by white men. All it would take is one or two new Supreme Court justices who believe the 10th Amendment actually means what it says to turn the liberal big-government agenda on its head and return the bulk of American governance to the states, where it belongs.
To progs the Second Amendment conjures images of armed patriots determined to preserve their personal liberty by force, if necessary. When your entire political philosophy is focused on centralized government power, the idea of the great unwashed actually being able to protect themselves from tyranny can be, shall we say, a little unsettling.
The liberal statist agenda is, therefore, to denigrate the Constitution to the point that the dumb masses – who sadly make up the bulk of the American electorate, look upon it as a horribly flawed document, badly in need of revision at best, and a complete rewrite at worse. You will grow old looking for a liberal to sing the praises of the Constitution – a document that set in motion and created the framework for the greatest exercise in self-government this world has ever seen.
But how to really demonize the Constitution and the men who wrote it? Easy … do what liberals have been doing so very well for decades. Play the race card. Tie our Constitution and our founders to slavery. If they’re connected in any way to slavery, then any works they do – no matter how good – are suspect and simply must be thrown in history’s garbage can. Liberals believe that if they manage to tie slavery to the Constitution, then the Constitution will lose legitimacy in the eyes of the people. You can almost hear the argument now. “The Constitution? You support the Constitution? So I guess that means you support slavery too, right? You’re a racist, and anyone who believes in the Constitution is a racist!” I can almost hear the words coming out of the mouth of some prog like Al Sharpton, Dick Durbin James Clyburn, Shelia Jackson-Lee or Maxine Waters (chose your own loon) now!
So … was Michelle Bachman right? Did our founding fathers work tirelessly to end slavery? Well, some did — others not so much. But that’s not the real point here. A thorough reading of history leaves no doubt that the founding fathers were adamantly opposed to Slavery, and determined to end it. Here, though, is where the progs screw up the narrative. Being strenuously opposed to slavery is one thing. Developing a working plan to end slavery is another. For instance — do you just want to end slavery in just the Northern colonies or states? Or do you want to see it ended in all of the 13 states. If your ultimate goal is to end slavery in the South as well, then it would certainly behoove you to make sure that the southern colonies were part of the battle for independence and then the newly formed United States of America.
The founding fathers that liberals just love to denigrate knew that if they insisted on an immediate end of slavery, the southern colonies would take a hike. With those colonies not being a part of the union, the anti-slavery forces from the North would lose all leverage over them. Historian H.A. Ohline (now pontificating at William & Mary) wrote: “It would have been impossible to establish a national government in the 18th Century without recognizing slavery in some way.” So it really looked like the choice was a United States of the north without slavery, a United States of the south with slavery — or some middle ground is sought that would allow for the fight for independence and the founding of our nation while leaving the slavery battle for another day.
Even before the Declaration of Independence our founders were on record as opposing slavery. The General Articles of Association were adopted in 1774, and in that document the importation or purchase of slaves was forbidden after January 1, 1775. One year later the Declaration of Independence was originally written to include a section denouncing slavery. This portion was eventually removed because the document needed a unanimous vote for approval, and at the time Georgia and South Carolina refused to vote for the Declaration of Independence with the following paragraph included:
“…he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. 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 & sold,] he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them, thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another…”
This paragraph appeared in the original version of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. When it came time to draft the Constitution of the United States, the theory is that the Founding Fathers were willing to compromise on the issue of slavery because A) They knew that Georgia and South Carolina would never give in, considering their economies relied on the institution and B) Those opposed to slavery thought that they would have more influence over the Southern states by having them as a part of the union and therefore be able to better influence them over the coming years to give up the institution of slavery.
Likewise, when it came to writing the Constitution our founders opted to form the union first and deal with the slavery issue later. That’s why the Constitution included Article 1, Section 9 granting to the Congress the power to regulate or to ban slavery as of January 1, 1808. That segment reads:
“The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”
Why were the southern states so adamant about slavery? You might be surprised to learn that Georgia was the first of the 13 colonies to abolish slavery. Georgia soon found out, however, that it could not compete agriculturally with the other southern colonies without slaves — so the prohibition was rescinded. The southern states simply felt they could not compete economically without slavery; certainly not for many years. I’m not presenting that as an excuse – just as a reason.
Here’s something else you need to know about slavery. The institution of slavery was born in Africa (and pretty much only exists in Africa today. Ironic, isn’t it?) Slaves were the spoils of African tribal conflict and warfare. In the 15th century slavery was virtually wiped out in Europe by the emergence of a Christian society. It was the Portugese who, in the mid 1940s, rediscovered slavery, so to speak, in their explorations along the western coast of Africa. Slavery (generally in support of the sugar industry) then started to make its way across the Atlantic and into the Caribbean. From the islands of the Caribbean slavery was then introduced into the southern colonies.
Look; I’m getting a bit carried away with my own narrative here. Let’s cut to the chase: The simple truth is that if our founding fathers made up their mind in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, or in 1787 with our Constitution, that slavery was going to be illegal in the United States, and that all people held in slavery were going to be freed at that point — the southern colonies or states would have simply said “no way in hell” and gone their own way. Without the southern colonies in the Revolutionary War, independence would not have been achieved and we would be throwing flowers and Prince William and Princess Kate later this week when they’re though with Canada. This was truly one of those “we must all hang together or we will most assuredly hang separately” situations. The more pragmatic move was to forge ahead with the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain and the creation of a new nation; with a stated determination to address and correct the slavery issue later.
To say that the Founding Fathers were proponents for slavery completely ignores their incredible achievements on the issue. During their lifetimes, the Founding Fathers were able to accomplish many things in accordance with their anti-slavery beliefs.
- They limited and eventually outlawed the importation of slaves.
- They outlawed slavery in the majority of the states within their lifetime.
- They outlawed the expansion of slavery into areas where it currently did not exist.
- They passed or influenced legislatures to pass laws making slavery more humane.
- Many individual slave owners, largely through the efforts of the founders, voluntarily freed their slaves.
Like many of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson pushed for the abolition of slavery. In his home state of Virginia, Jefferson proposed the abolition of slavery in 1778 and 1796. Along with Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Wilson and countless others were opposed to the institution of slavery and organized to end the practice. None were more outspoken than Benjamin Franklin, who founded the Pennsylvania Abolition Society in 1789. Others like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay signed a petition to the New York State legislature in 1786 to end the slave trade. This widely circulated petition was the foundation for the establishment of the “New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves and Protecting Such of Them as Have been or may be liberated.” Also, Hamilton and Washington, along with General Nathaniel Greene made a concerted effort to recruit blacks into the Continental Army. They thought this would be a key step in bringing about emancipation. Alexander Hamilton wrote a letter to John Jay (President of the Congress at the time) about recruiting blacks from South Carolina to serve in the Continental Army:
“An essential part of the plan is to give them their freedom with their swords. This will secure their fidelity, animate their courage, and, I believe, will have a good influence upon those who remain, by opening a door to their emancipation. This circumstance, I confess, has no small weight in inducing me to wish the success of the project; for the dictates of humanity, and true policy, equally interest me in favor of this unfortunate class of men….”
On the eve of the creation of our Constitution, John Jay himself wrote about the hypocrisy of American ideals if we were not to abolish the institution of slavery:
“It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honor of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.”
Before we move on — a word about the Three-fifth’s compromise. This is the section of our Constitution that many race whores like to use to illustrate the racist leanings of our founding fathers. How many times have you heard that our Constitution says that blacks are only three-fifths human. Well — whoever told you that is an idiot (at best) or a malicious liar (at worst). It’s not there. The Constitution says no such thing. Just click here to read my notes on “Race Baiting and the Constitution.” Welcome to clarity of thought.
History is clear. Our founders wrote on many occasions about their desire to end the institution of slavery and history demonstrates their efforts to do so. You can read some more of those quotes here, but the point is that liberals would like you to believe that our Constitution was founded by a bunch of pro-slavery racists because this is a way of diminishing the value of our Constitution. Remember that the Constitution is just a roadblock for many Democrats who seek to increase their power over you. – Neal Boortz