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Black Scholar Defends
Founders On Racism

By on September 23, 2020

By Harold Pease, Ph.D.

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 here, have turned on the very authors of their freedom, the Founding Fathers.  Would that they had been born in Russia under Joseph Stalin, Germany under Adolph Hitler, or China under Mao Tza Tung.  Had they been able to escape those tyrannies, today they would be strong defenders of the Constitution. 

That slavery was a part of our history and that of the world cannot be denied.  It runs through the Bible.  Joseph was sold into Egypt even by his brothers.  It ran through Africa long before Europeans even began trading with them.  The waring tribes sold their vanquished neighbors.  And what did Africans sell to the Dutch ship 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 a cultural and economic context.  Anarchist do not care about cultural context, they seek only an excuse to destroy.  Only the uninformed do not know this.  Still, none of this justifies slavery and it never gained a foothold in the northerns colonies.

But I am white, thus to “real” racists (those that would notice I am white), not qualified to write in defense of our “white” Founding Fathers.  Let us enlist black intellectual Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, to defend the Founders (“Attacking Our Nations’s Founders, April 13, 2016).

The “founders as racist argument” first brought to his Christian college by socialist Bernie Sanders and the falsehoods within it had to be confronted.  Dr. Williams wrote: “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 we were to become one nation or two?  If one, then for a time at least, compromise had to prevail.  Williams explained, “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 continued, “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.  Abolition of slavery would come in a Civil War 53 years later at the cost of 360,222 northerners dying to end it.

Dr. Williams continues, “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.”

He then concluded, “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.”  No wonder the enemies of liberty, like Bernie Sanders, exclude the whole story and push this false narrative.  Blacks too have greatly benefited from the Constitution.

Dr. HDr. Harold W. Peasearold 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 applying that knowledge to current events. He taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College.  Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.