Thursday, July 02, 2009

Independence Day

As we move towards the July 4 weekend, let us not forget the people for whom July 4 was not Independence Day, but, rather, subjugation and slavery day: Blacks and Native Americans. While it wasn't put into writing until 1787 when the Constitution was adopted (which made it clear that 'Slaves' and 'Indians' were not full human beings in the eyes of the founding fathers), it was abundantly clear on July 4, 1776, that the independence being fought for was not for them -- it was for white European males.

So it was, and so it continued for the next 190 years or so...

-- Badtux the History Penguin

1 comment:

  1. The committee who wrote the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin) were each and everyone of them against slavery and had a vision of freedom for slaves. The Declaration is a document that should be cherished by all and it surprises me that you'd take this opportunity to denigrate these charters of freedom.

    Jefferson was hypocritical, but he did fully envision a slave free America. By 1776 Americans saw slavery as an institution thrust on them by the British. The Declaration was the first step in securing rights for all.

    As to the Constitution, you apparently didn't realize that the both the 3/5 compromise and the 1808 clause are pro-Black. The 3/5 compromise intentionally weakened the representation of states who did not enfranchise all of their citizens. It was not a statement of the value of a black person. In fact, the compromise was proposed by James Wilson, a liberal anti-slavery northerner. The compromise sent a message to southerners that should they grant freedom to all, their representation would be increased. In fact, it would have been better for slaves if they had counted for zero. But you also have to realize that taxes were apportioned the same way as representation, so as a Northerner, you wanted slaves to count for more for the purposes of taxation, but less for the purposes of representation. What you have is a compromise.

    The 1808 clause is more revealing. This clause made the importation of slaves illegal after 1808. Clearly you can see the intent was to diminish slavery, not increase it. In fact, even the South envisioned slave free society in 1789. It was the invention of the cotton gin the brought back the viability of slavery a few years later.

    So, you are incorrect that the Constitution makes any kind of value judgment on certain human beings. This fourth of July I hope all Americans will read the Constitution and understand how it has been a great blessing to the world. See my blog here


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