The United States’ Founding
The ultimate target for the Times’ propaganda is this nation’s founding. The Progressive Left visibly hates the documents and associated institutions that define our founding. I mean the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Electoral College and the Senate at the very least. And they mean to utterly destroy these ideas and institutions if they are able, through any means necessary.
Their argument is that since slavery existed at the time of our nation’s founding and therefore had to be dealt with as a present reality, the United States is a republic founded upon evil. Therefore our nation must be destroyed root and branch.
The economist and historian Thomas Sowell provides some perspective on the institution of slavery at the time of our nation’s founding.
Of all the tragic facts about the history of slavery, the most astonishing to an American today is that, although slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century. People of every race and color were enslaved – and enslaved others. White people were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after American blacks were freed.
Mr. Sowell then applies this perspective to the issue of slavery at our nation’s founding.
Everyone hated the idea of being a slave but few had any qualms about enslaving others. Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century – and then it was an issue only in Western civilization. Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other American leaders. You could research all of the 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there. But who is singled out for scathing criticism today? American leaders of the 18th century.
Deciding that slavery was wrong was much easier than deciding what to do with millions of people from another continent, of another race, and without any historical preparation for living as free citizens in a society like that of the United States, where they were 20 percent of the population.
It is clear from the private correspondence of Washington, Jefferson, and many others that their moral rejection of slavery was unambiguous, but the practical question of what to do now had them baffled. That would remain so for more than half a century.
In 1862, a ship carrying slaves from Africa to Cuba, in violation of a ban on the international slave trade, was captured on the high seas by the U.S. Navy. The crew was imprisoned and the captain was hanged in the United States – despite the fact that slavery itself was still legal at the time in Africa, Cuba, and in the United States. What does this tell us? That enslaving people was considered an abomination. But what to do with millions of people who were already enslaved was not equally clear.
That question was finally answered by a war in which one life was lost [620,000 Civil War casualties] for every six people freed [3.9 million]. Maybe that was the only answer. But don’t pretend today that it was an easy answer – or that those who grappled with the dilemma in the 18th century were some special villains when most leaders and most people around the world saw nothing wrong with slavery.
A Contemporary Thought Experiment
Let’s assume that in 2025, for whatever reason, it is decided that the United States must rewrite its Constitution from scratch. So a Constitutional Convention is called at which representatives from throughout the nation gather to perform this task. Let’s also assume that within this group is a minority that believes abortion to be an abomination that should be eradicated. What would they propose and what constraints would they face?
The most obvious constraint would be that there is perhaps a quarter of the adult population who believe that a fetus is not human and is the property of the mother. The mother therefore has the absolute right to dispose if the fetus in any manner that she deems fit, including abortion up to the moment of delivery. There is another half of the population who support abortion with limitations. Thus only a quarter of the population supports what could be called an abolitionist position on abortion.
Should the Constitutional Convention’s abolitionist representatives attempt to enshrine their belief in the new Constitution? Even if they wanted to how in the face of super-majority opposition could they possibly succeed? And, if they did somehow succeed how could the new Constitution possibly be ratified?
The above doesn’t include the likelihood of bloody civil unrest by the pro-abortion camp’s most radical supporters. Should a nation that is in already in dire straits rip itself apart over an issue that simply cannot currently achieve majority support?
What the abortion abolitionists might attempt is insertion of language that doesn’t directly attack the institution of abortion but that, as an ideal, undermines its justification. Perhaps something along the lines of:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.