Regarding report: Tea Party Groups In Tennessee Demand Textbooks Overlook U.S. Founder’s Slave-Owning History
The subject of the questions and comments is the interview done by “Tea Party” folks in Nashville where I was quoted as saying, among other things, that we need to fix our education curriculum by getting rid of “made up things about our founders owning slaves…” or words essentially like that.
First off, the interview was first broadcast in January 2011. It continues to get revived as “news,” so it is really getting stale.
Second, the meaning of the words, which I explained a bit after that quote, is entirely misrepresented in the anxious-to-condemn media.
The favored misrepresentation is that the Tea Parties deny that the founders included slave owners. That is stupid, but opportune. Only villains would promote that premise. Only idiots would accept it.
So, here is the essence of the actual intent:
The world was organized, until our founders came along, by various forms of master-servant systems. The “American” system of slavery was just one of those systems.
The Founders of the United States were remarkable in that they saw that world and concluded that there was a better way, where every man was his own master. They called it Liberty, and it was a radical idea.
They founded this nation on that idea. They brought along as many as they could, but the institution of slavery was so much a part of their economy – as serfdom, slavery and its other forms had been since man first started community living – that they could not simply abolish it. Several wanted to try, but the consensus saw the collapse of the economy, still weak after our Revolution, would result. So they arranged in the Constitution for the importation of slaves to be protected for the 1st 20 years, after which Congress could – and did – abolish the slave trade. The idea was to allow the institution to wither naturally from that point on.
The “made up things” here are that:
Slavery was the happy hypocrisy of the founders: No, they detested it, and were conflicted on how to get rid of it.
Slavery was always cruel, or even generally so: No, the slaves were assets, and often friends, almost family. (I have proof, in fact, that at least one slave owner was lynched for abusing his slaves, by his fellow whites. Look in the Augusta Chronicle, some time, I think, in 1858.)
Slaves were forced to work, with no recompense: No, the slave owner was responsible for supplying every material thing needed by his slaves – housing, food, clothing, health care, etc.
Slavery existed in the United States for (the last idiot stated to me) 350 years: No, the slave trade was legal only 20 years after the Constitution, which is the only starting point we can be tied to. It did last some 50 years beyond that, with a diminishing total proportion of the U.S. labor force.
I could go on, but what’s the point…