Harold Pease, Ph.D., Special to Anza Valley Outlook
It seems that all the anarchists who pelt law enforcement with bricks, bottles, lasers and fireworks and set buildings and automobiles afire in many major cities in the United States in their revolution to bring socialism to the country have turned on the very authors of their freedom, the Founding Fathers. Would that they had been born in Russia under Josef Stalin, Germany under Adolf Hitler or China under Mao Zedong? Had they been able to escape those tyrannies, they would be strong defenders of the Constitution.
That slavery was a part of U.S. history and world history cannot be denied. It runs through the Bible. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. It ran through Africa long before Europeans began trading with them. The warring tribes sold their vanquished neighbors. And what did Africans sell to the Dutch ships off shore in exchange for the new knives, pots and pans – their neighbors? Slavery could have never gained a foothold on the continent had the Africans resisted it.
For the agrarian South, it developed gradually from 1619 on, out of the indentured servitude economy. It cannot be understood absent from its cultural and economic context. Anarchists do not care about cultural context; they seek only an excuse to destroy. Only the uninformed do not know it. Still, none of this context justifies slavery, and it never gained a foothold in the northern colonies.
But I am a White person, thus to “real” racists, that is those that would notice I am White, I am not qualified to write in defense of the “White” Founding Fathers. Instead, enlist Black intellectual Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, to defend the Founders in his article “Attacking Our Nation’s Founders,” April 13, 2016.
The “founders as racist argument” was first brought to his Christian college by socialist Bernie Sanders, and the falsehoods within it had to be confronted.
Williams said, “Our Founding Fathers struggled mightily over the issue of slavery. Let us look at some of that struggle.
“George Washington said, ‘I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.’ Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, Patrick Henry and others were highly critical of slavery, describing it as a ‘disease of ignorance,’ ‘an inconsistency not to be excused’ and a ‘lamentable evil.’ George Mason said, ‘The augmentation of slaves weakens the states, and such a trade is diabolical in itself and disgraceful to mankind.’ James Madison, in a speech at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, declared, ‘We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.’ Benjamin Rush said, ‘Domestic slavery is repugnant to the principles of Christianity. It is rebellion against the authority of a common Father.’”
Slavery reared its ugly head in the Constitutional Convention. An unspoken concern was whether the land was to become one nation or two? If one, then for a time at least, compromise had to prevail.
Williams said, “In their effort to create a union, the delegates at the Constitutional Convention had to negotiate many contentious, deal-breaking issues. Slavery was chief among them. Southern states made clear that they would not vote to ratify a constitution that abolished slavery or ended the slave trade. Northern delegates wanted to end slave trading and did not want slaves counted at all for congressional apportionment. Southern delegates wanted slaves counted as whole people. That would have given the South greater political power in the House of Representatives.”
The astute professor said, “Convention delegate James Wilson offered a compromise whereby each slave would be counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of determining the number of representatives a state would have in the House. This rule applied only to slaves. Freemen, whether Black or White, would be counted as whole people. The Three-Fifths Compromise was not a statement about human worth; it was an attempt to reduce the pro-slavery representation in Congress. By including only three-fifths of the total number of slaves in congressional calculations, Southern states were actually being denied a greater number of representatives in Congress and hence electoral votes for selecting a president.”
The most amazing compromise of the Constitution was that our Founding Fathers got the South “to set 1808 as the year to abolish the slave trade.”
Not slavery, but the slave trade. The abolition of slavery would come following a Civil War 53 years later at the cost of 360,222 northerners who died and many others.
Williams said, “There’s little question that slavery is an abomination and a gross violation of human rights, but the founders had to decide whether there would be a union or not. Had morality been their sole guide, they might have taken a hardened, nonnegotiable stand against slavery, but then the Constitution would have never been ratified and a union would not have been formed.
“Ignorance of our history, coupled with an inability to think critically, has provided considerable ammunition for those who want to divide us in pursuit of their agenda. Their agenda is to undermine the legitimacy of our Constitution in order to gain greater control over our lives. Their main targets are the nation’s youths. The teaching establishment at our public schools and colleges is being used to undermine American values,” Williams said.
No wonder the enemies of liberty, like Sanders, exclude the whole story and push this false narrative. Blacks too have greatly benefited from the Constitution.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit http://www.LibertyUnderFire.org.