Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Founders Cemented Slavery And Oppression Into Place Those Idols Should Be Knocked Off Their Plinths

A little remembered incident of the First Congress is as good an illustration as any as to how the Founders went from their pious declarations that "all men are Created Equal" to cementing even overt slavery into place through the Constitution is the handling of the petition Benjamin Franklin submitted for the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.  You don't have to take my word for the role that the idolized Constitution played in that, you can read it in the very excuse of the First Congress, peopled with Founders and their allies gave to not even consider that petition.  First what the U. S. Archives say about the documents.

Franklin did not publicly speak out against slavery until very late in his life. As a young man he owned slaves, and he carried advertisements for the sale of slaves in his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette. At the same time, however, he published numerous Quaker pamphlets against slavery and condemned the practice of slavery in his private correspondence. It was after the ratification of the United States Constitution that he became an outspoken opponent of slavery. In 1789 he wrote and published several essays supporting the abolition of slavery and his last public act was to send to Congress a petition on behalf of the Society asking for the abolition of slavery and an end to the slave trade. The petition, signed on February 3, 1790, asked the first Congress, then meeting in New York City, to "devise means for removing the Inconsistency from the Character of the American People," and to "promote mercy and justice toward this distressed Race."

The petition was introduced to the House on February 12 and to the Senate on February 15, 1790. It was immediately denounced by pro-slavery congressmen and sparked a heated debate in both the House and the Senate. The Senate took no action on the petition, and the House referred it to a select committee for further consideration. The committee reported on March 5, 1790 claiming that the Constitution restrains The committee reported on March 5, 1790 claiming that the Constitution restrains Congress from prohibiting the importation or emancipation of slaves until 1808 and then tabled the petition. On April 17, 1790, just two months later, Franklin died in Philadelphia at the age of 84.

First, well, better late than never for Dr. Franklin.  He, at least, made that much progress as Thomas Jefferson,  the author of that promise of equality was increasing his practice of slavery with the minutely sedulous scientific analysis.  I will also point out that it as those largely at the agitation of those pesky Quakers that he likely came that far, though they were hardly the only religious abolitionists of the time, many of whom were free Black People and Black People who were held in slavery.

If you want to read the report of the House Special Committe which disposed of the abolitionist petition, in that congress of Founders, you can read it in its depraved specificity, noting that the Constitution, itself, provided them with an excuse not to act for the next eighteen years.  Future congresses would resort to other provisions and the building body of slave-enabling law that was compiled by the judiciary at the same time.   Notice what Congress was forbidden by the Constitution from doing.

That Congress have no authority to interfere in the internal regulations of particular States, relative to the instruction of slaves in the principles of morality and religion*, to their comfortable clothing, accommodations and substance; to the regulation of their marriages, and the prevention of the violation of rights therefore, or to the separation of children from their parents; to a comfortable provision in cases of sickness, age, or infirmity; or to the seizure, transportation, or sale of free negroes; but have the fullest confidence in the wisdom and humanity of the Legislatures of the several States, that they will revise their laws, from time to time, when necessary, and promote the objects mentioned in the memorials, and every other measure that may tend to the happiness of slaves.

Considering that all of those things were things that States among the several States most certainly didn't regulate for the "happiness of slaves" which was the very reason they were brought up by abolitionists, the mealy-mouthed, lying hypocrisy of that House committee couldn't have been more obvious.  And their giving the object of our present day idolatry, the stinking, hypocritical Constitution as the reason for doing no more than lying about what was going on.

A few years back, I asked my very, very old mother and several of the other very old people I knew who were well read and who had always followed current events if they ever heard people going on and on about the "founders" and the Constitution when they were young.  All of them said they didn't remember it until about the time of the backlash against the civil rights agitation in the 1950s and 60s and on.  That was what I suspected, the cult of the Founders and the Constitution is part and parcel of the neo-Confederate reaction to equal rights.  Though, it should be noted, that most of the Northern States were also slave state during the First Congress and many of them would remain so.  I believe the "Mr. Foster" who issued that report was Abiel Foster, of New Hampshire, a member of the First Congress and, indeed, to the Continental Congress.   Though I can't find more documentation of that Special Committee on such short notice.  I would love to know what the gods of that idolatry might have said about it or the provision in the Constitution at the time it was adopted.

*  You can contrast the current de-religionized myth to what the early Black anti-Slavery agitator, David Walker said, mentioning the hypocritical Jefferson by name.   It is clear that slave holders didn't want slaves being exposed to the scriptures because the idea of slaves being freed is central to the entire thing.  They certainly didn't want them to learn to read so they could read such radical commandments of justice for themselves.

Update:  Oh, no.  No, no, no, no, no.  I don't mean that we should come out and attack the friggin' Founders and the corrupt anti-democratic Constitution by name.  We have to get rid of those by a more gradual process that shows people how they got suckered into deifying those in the first place. But the first step in that is for people who claim to be liberals and on the left to stop pushing that crap, themselves.  Even the ones who do it in Founders drag on stage.

I'd urge people to take up what Ishmael Reed and those he cited raised as a tacit challenge, to truthfully do with real abolitionists, Black people, people like Harriet Tubman (read what it said about her in the article I linked to from Reed), David Walker, Ida  Wells, who are real heroines and heroes what was done untruthfully for Hamilton.   Let's see if the friggin' New York Times would promote such a show into a $700 friggin' dollars a friggin' ticket show if it told the truth.  Openly challenge them to do it or to be considered the racist institution it is.  The NYT needs to be knocked off a plinth, too.

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