It has been noted that our Founding Fathers didn't outright ban slavery in the Constitution of the United States, and by that act, showed that they were inconsistent with their stated views of the equality of all men. The arguments stem from an opinion I stated regarding my total dislike for Abraham Lincoln. In fact, I have stated that in my never-to-be-humble opinion, he is the worst president that this nation was ever afflicted by.
I still stand by that opinion. However, I feel that I should, in some manner respond to the criticisms of our Founding Fathers. Many of whom were, in fact, abolitionists. Much ado is made of Jefferson and his "associations" with his slaves. And I agree wholeheartedly that such a situation (above and beyond the slavery issue) is morally reprehensible.
But, I have to come back to the limitations that the framers of the Constitution placed upon the federal government. All power was derived by the people, concentrated in the various states, and granted with EXTREME limitations, to the federal government. The basic rights given to all free men were very nearly universal. For instance, in every former colony, with the exception of South Carolina, free blacks enjoyed the right to vote, and did so in the ratification of the constitution.
People look to the 1965 voting rights act as the turning point for blacks in America, but I'd have to say that it was a turning full circle that occurred. Let me explain, and in order to do that, I have to provide a bit of history (again).
Before the Revolutionary War, Great Britain made abolition of slavery illegal. But afterwards, as free and Sovereign states, each former colony was free to do exactly that, and did. For instance, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. Additionally, blacks in many early States not only had the right to vote but also the right to hold office. And many states had protections for Black rights written into their constitutions from the outset.
However, even with the limitations that were crafted into our government, the government was not silent and did indeed make moves toward abolition. Such as these shining examples: in 1789 Congress banned slavery in any federally held territory; in 1794, the exportation of slaves from any State was banned; and in 1808, the importation of slaves into any State was also banned. In fact, more progress was made to end slavery and achieve civil rights for blacks in America at that time than was made in any other nation in the world.
It was actually after most of the Founding Fathers died that things started to go wrong, starting with the Missouri Compromise, allowing new slave states to enter the union. Those few Founders that were left alive were extremely clear in their opposition (including the much maligned Jefferson). Elias Boudinot (a president of Congress during the Revolution) warned that this new direction by Congress would bring "an end to the happiness of the United States." A frail John Adams feared that lifting the slavery prohibition would destroy America; and an elderly Thomas Jefferson was appalled at the proposal, declaring, "In the gloomiest moment of the Revolutionary War, I never had any apprehensions equal to what I feel from this source."
The new anti-civil rights feeling in congress was shown further in the passing of Fugitive Slave Law allowing southern slavers to go North and kidnap blacks on the spurious claim that they were runaway slaves and then in passing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, allowing slavery into what is now Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, and Nebraska. It was further reflected in many of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. For example, in 1835 North Carolina reversed its policies and limited voting to whites only, as also occurred in Maryland in 1809.
All of the above is information that is regularly missing in education. It is indisputable and therefore I will let it stand on its own as a defense of our Founders. Now, if you haven't already left, I'd like to do a little bit of reflecting on the outcomes of the U.S. Civil War. First, I will grant that in one fell swoop, all blacks in America were emancipated. But what was the cost to the nation of obtaining this "success" by force?
First, and certainly not least, was the destruction of state sovereignty. All socialist and revisionist evil that has been inflicted on America can be laid at the feet of Lincoln's decision to invade the South. Next, look at the civil rights abuses perpetrated on the South during the so-called "reconstruction". In New Orleans for example, by order of the ruling military governor any woman that offended a union soldier may be used as one would a prostitute without her consent. And this type of thing went on all over the south. If you served in the Confederate government you were barred from any public office, outlawing the voice of the people that lived in those states.
In the greatest act of insanity ever committed by our congress, no state that had seceded could be re-admitted into the union, or have a recognized government, until they had ratified the 13th amendment. Although how they were to do this without a "recognized government" is baffling. As is the idea of non-admittance into the union. Lincoln's entire premise for invasion was that the states didn't have the right to secede and considered it to be, instead, rebellion. If they couldn't secede, how could they be outside the union.
Since the 13th Amendment was only ratified by an overtly criminal act (extortion) it is arguable that it is even legally ratified. But that's an entirely different post.
In addition to these glaring abuses, before the civil war, freed blacks and those that were born free (to include Dred Scott. It was an insane northern FEDERAL court that returned him to slavery) could and did get justice in Southern courts. Afterwards, I believe it would be fair to say that the civil rights for ALL blacks in the south took a hit. I would say that a majority of the outright hatred that is experienced between the races today can be laid upon the alter of history with the identified placard reading: "Fruits of the U.S. Civil War". In every state where the natural political forces were allowed to emancipate people of color, they (blacks) were allowed to vote, own property, and even serve elected office.
During the Civil War 620,000 people were killed, and over 100 years of racial animosity and distrust was born. The rights of states to govern themselves was eradicated, and the slide away from our Founders vision started to gain all the momentum of a landslide on a Mountain top.
A good friend here and someone that I have had spirited debates in the past, and will do so again very soon I suspect, said some things on this topic that disturbed me greatly. They said that they felt strongly that you have to fight for what you see as right, even when it is contradicted by law. In this case, it was the prohibitive nature of the very constitution that prevented our founders from taking action. Similarly, this friend believes the end result of emancipation for the slaves, justified the means used, suppression of states rights by force of arms.
The most that my friend is willing to concede on my point is that Lincoln's approach was heavy handed. That's like saying that a bunker buster is a pretty large firecracker.
I want to be clear, I DO NOT CONSIDER THE AUTHOR OF THE ABOVE TO BE A STATIST, but the ends justifies the means has been the argument for nearly every statist move and usurpation of power in recorded history. It is the argument used to withdraw more and more power from the people and place it in the hands of the powerful few.
Just look at the arguments over the Health care debacle, Cap and Tax, amnesty for illegals, global warming/cooling/climate change. They are ALL boiled down to "the ends justify the means." This nation was founded upon the rule of law, granted by the grace of God, through his Son, Jesus. We turned our back on the rule of law during the war between the states and that has led us away from God in our government, education system, public lives, and now we reach the point where it is even under attack in our private lives.
Our Founders were indeed wise men. They created here, a land that wasn't perfect but that had the ability to perfect itself while limiting the oppression that was inherent in ALL governments. We as a people left that path with guns blazing and allowed their dream to become bastardized and prostituted. And there aren't enough of us left, I fear, that are willing to put the mistakes of the last 160 years, and the hatreds that they birthed to bed, and return to the vision our founders had. Unless we do, we will never again be the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
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