The Hated Framers of the Constitution
It happened again this past week. A person took great pains to explain to me (and anybody who would listen) that the Constitution is flawed because, as they put it:
“Time for a brief American History lesson: Our government was set up by privileged landowners. Many of them were also slave owners. When they said “all men are created equal” they were not thinking about anyone other than people like themselves.”
It’s sad to think that so many Americans today have both fallen for this line of revisionist history AND continue to repeat it to anyone who will listen. Moreover, what does it say about the systems we have in place to educate our Citizens about the Constitution? Not just the schools, but even after that? Our Framers intended for the adult population to be active and involved in study and in insuring that the Government adhered to the Constitution.
Such thought patterns are somewhat curious. Consider the ad pictured to the left. The implication is that the Framers were NOT liberals – in the classic sense of that word, not the modern political theory – AND worse that they were not revolutionary. If only the Framers hadn’t been a bunch of old, white, slave holding misogynists, then maybe they would have gotten it right in 1787. But alas, because they didn’t do what people with two hundred years of historical hindsight think that they would have done in their place, the whole thing is invalid and should be ignored.
Of course, that is presumptuous and completely in error, but hey, why let the actual events of the summer of 1787 change your views? Especially if the truth doesn’t fit your own personal agenda or political aims?
The truth is that half, if not more, of the Congressional delegate were not only NOT slave holders, but were opposed to the institution of slavery. Some of the most impassioned statements against the institution are found in the words of the Constitutional Convention speeches and debates. That being the actual case, what happened?
In short, a compromise. But a compromise that was forward looking and showed that even in the summer of 1787, the Delegates understood that Slavery WOULD end eventually, hopefully without bloodshed.
And that more than anything was the true aim of the Convention.
To establish the idea that men could rule themselves, and to accomplish that without another war, which was not only what the rest of the world expected to happen, but what the delegates themselves believed would happen if a unified national government was not formed. In other words, the goal of the Summer of 1787 was NOT to solve every social ill of the day – it was establish a unified national government, which would allow the Nation to eventually solve those issue WITHOUT bloodshed.
And in doing so, the Framers reached light years beyond ANY OTHER NATION IN HISTORY when it came to its citizens participating in that national government and in establishing the ability of those same citizens to amend the rules in order to address each of those issue as the time arose for them to do so.
This is an unarguable and simple fact: in the Summer of 1787, the United States (and indeed, no other republic or democracy) was going to end slavery. No nation was going to allow universal suffrage. No nation on Earth was going to risk a government of, by and for the blessings of liberty. And no person alive today who says that they would have been able to do so at that moment in time is telling the truth.
And yet, the Framers, long denigrated and long despised by people who (a) weren’t there and (b) have obviously never bothered to read their words that they left for exactly the purpose of explaining why they did what they did, looked forward with a prescience unimagined today, and saw, AND THEY WROTE that a time would come when those very issues about which they are most vehemently hated and complained could be resolved – they prayed and hoped without bloodshed.
In setting up the Amendment process, the Framers made it clear that the people maintained the sovereignty and, as General George Washington (later President, not “His Royal Highness”) remarked, the changes could only be made to the Constitution by “authentic and explicit acts” of those American people. The history of those amendments makes it clear that in the moments of history when an ideas time has come, it is the American people who lead the way in making the changes. Yes, it’s work – but IT SHOULD BE. No change to a government or its rules should be made for “light or transitory causes.” In that effort, the American people make their will manifest to our government. And in accomplishing our will, it is made clear that it is our authentic and explicit action that leads to that change.
I’ve said it before, it’s pure revisionist history by people who prefer to not have to actually study anything in order to support a position. In fact, those who proclaim that the Constitution is flawed BECAUSE they do not like the men who wrote it (and in most cases they are dead wrong about them and have OBVIOUSLY never read and of the Convention journals) are no different than those who erase portions of history that they do not like simply because they want to have a certain viewpoint accepted.
In the end, the only defense we have against those who would smear, defame, and worst of all outright LIE about the Framers and their intentions is education. And that’s what we do, to the best of our efforts.
Posted on June 3, 2013, in 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, 19th Amendment, 24th Amendment, 26th Amendment, 3/5th's Clause, Amendments, Art 1 Sect 2, Constitution, Dave, Other Thoughts, War Time Amendments. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.