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Arguing the Constitution Was Pro-Slavery is Just…Dumb

It’s a woke new world here in the West, which means the self-loathing and general contempt for our civilizational foundations, values, and ethics is all the rage.  Expect to see presidential candidates in the Democrat primary compete with who can run them down the quickest, though Senator Bernie Sanders seems to be in the early lead. 

Remember it was Sanders in a question and answer session at Liberty University a couple years ago who let the Constitution have it:

I would also say that as a nation, the truth is, that a nation in which many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back, on racist principles.

As a high school history teacher I can vouch for the fact that Bernie’s understanding of our Constitutional heritage has become the preferred interpretation of those who write school textbooks.  Which means, of course, that the notion of a “racist Constitution” is increasingly embraced by young people.  They have been indoctrinated into the insanity, which fits perfectly into the woke philosophy that now dominates their campus experience.

I admit that lamenting the inevitable collapse of any civilization that despises its own foundation actually takes a backseat for me in this situation.  I’m actually more annoyed by the stunning anti-intellectualism of such a proposition.  You have to know next to nothing about the Constitutional Convention, its debates, the Federalist Papers, and the ratification debate to hold to such a nonsensical view.  To be blunt, it’s just a staggeringly dumb proposition that the Constitution was written as a pro-slavery document.

Dr. Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College does an immense amount of scholarly debunking of this woke re-write of American history in a piece published recently at National Review.  It’s a lengthy, and well-written exposition that provides a treasure-trove of actual quotes, remarks, and explanations of the tenuous handling of the slavery topic at the Constitutional Convention.  And it’s revelatory of how the anti-slavery Founders won the war through judicious omissions and apparent compromises that actually spelled the impending doom for the heinous institution of slavery.  He writes,

Just how much distance the Framers wished to put between slavery and the new Constitution emerged even before the Convention adjourned. On July 13, 1787, the final Congress under the Articles of Confederation, sitting in New York, adopted the Northwest Ordinance as the instrument for organizing the territory ceded by Great Britain around the Great Lakes. The Ordinance’s sixth section provided that “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” The Ordinance did not at once liberate slaves living in the Northwest (especially the slaves belonging to old French colonial families along the Mississippi River), but it did turn the face of the future away from slavery.

As the Constitution moved toward ratification, one member of the Massachusetts ratifying convention recognized the same dynamic at work in the new federal instrument. “It would not do to abolish slavery . . . in a moment,” conceded Bostonian Thomas Dawes (whose cousin, William, had ridden with Paul Revere). Nevertheless, even if “slavery is not smitten with an apoplexy, yet it has received a mortal wound and will die of a consumption.” And the Pennsylvania abolitionist Benjamin Rush rejoiced that, by refusing to include slavery or “slaves in this constitution,” the Framers had saved the republic from “the very words” that “would contaminate the glorious fabric of American liberty and government.” The “cloud” of anti-slavery, “which a few years ago was no larger than a man’s hand, has descended in plentiful dews and at last cover’d every part of our land.”

This is just a taste of what Guelzo offers up.  For anyone ready to fight back against the intellectually deficient, emotional screeds of our country’s prophets of woke, this is an excellent start.  And for those who are simply desirous to know the truth of how America’s preeminent governing document was “deliberately written to avoid establishing a legal precedent for ownership of human beings,” it’s a first-rate primer.

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