I’ve always believed that America was founded on the basis that we had the right, and obligation, to seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of happyness. But as I look into the world today, this is not what I’m witnessing. It seems like there’s a group of people who claim the need of special treatment because their ancestors were slaves. Let me be clear, I don’t think this is a race issue, it’s a perspective issue.
Here’s the thing. These same people claim that both the Founding Fathers and God Almighty Himself supported slavery. But, how true is this argument? Um, not very, at least not from my research.
Let’s take the laws of slavery according to God. If you honestly examine these laws, you will find a common denominator. The slave has sold him or herself to pay off a debt. Also, a close family member could ‘redeem’ the slave. This description is more like that of indentured servitude. One person could, quite literally, hire himself out to make money. Sounds kind of like the job market today, doesn’t it?
But, you see the idea of selling another into servitude had a very different result. There were three crimes that guaranteed the death penalty under God’s Law. Premeditated murder, rape, and–as God puts it–stealing a man and selling him. Now what could that last one mean? Well, we have kidnapping for ransom today, but when America had slaves, how did they get here? That makes slave-trading under God’s law illegal, doesn’t it?
As you look through our Monuments in Washington D.C., you’ll notice Biblical passages on them. This is simple to see because atheism in the eighteenth century was even rarer than it is today. The first book printed in America was a Bible, so how did the Founders miss the fact that slavery was wrong?
The truth of the matter is, they didn’t. America couldn’t survive a war against slavery being fought at the same time as The Revolution. So they added a couple of clauses to The Constitution to deal with the issue. The infamous 3/5 clause was meant to keep the slave-holding States out of the majority when it came time to abolish the practice. In my opinion, the 3/5 clause included children, most women, and any other person who didn’t own any property. The Founders attempts to abolish the practice didn’t work out too well. We didn’t listen to section 9 of Article 1. According to that section, we were to ban the importation of slaves in, ready for it, 1808. Our failure to do so lead to the Civil War.
So now we know that the Founders didn’t intend to keep slavery as a part of America. It wasn’t meant for our inheritance. We can move on to our next set of questions. How did slavery get started in America? And why did the Founders have slaves, themselves?
Let’s start with the first question. When America was first colonized, we had a system of indentured servitude. Now that doesn’t mean that all servants came of their own free will, it just means that they could become free after a time. Indentured servitude meant that you had a chance of make a life of your own as soon as your contract was up. Of course if you tried to steal the time you owed to your boss it could cost you your ability to work for someone else. It would be like agreeing to work for, say, Coca Cola, then reneging on your word. At that time, you could be told that you can now only work for Coca Cola. It would guarantee you financial security, and your boss would be guaranteed a constant employee.
This worked until Anthony Johnson, a black man, had a disagreement with one of his white neighbors over a black indentured servant’s contract. Johnson won more than the contract; he won the ownership of the indentured servant, starting our problems with slavery. It wasn’t like the prior times of an indentured servant being stuck with a boss, this poor guy didn’t even have the benefit of having a paycheck.
Now to our next question: why did the Founders have slaves? To put it simply, most of them were in debt, quite possibly from funding the Revolution. During times of debt, freeing your slaves was seen as bad form. In fact, the slaves would probably be confiscated and sold to pay off the debt if their owners had tried. All they could do at the time, would be to try to climb out of debt, and then free their slaves. Our nation cost our Founding Fathers everything. Their slaves got their freedom after the Founders died, if they were lucky.
I’m not sure how we got to where whole classes of people in America can claim that the American Dream is just for the 1% or that The Constitution doesn’t go far enough. This isn’t the fruit of our Founding Fathers. Like them, I don’t want your patronage just because I look different than you do. I’ve worked and practiced too long and hard for such a cheap feeling of inclusiveness. I want your patronage because I’m good at what I do.
Thank you for your time. And consider Pres. Washington’s prayer to the Almighty before you leave.
And now, Almighty Father, if it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee.
Bless us with Thy wisdom in our counsels, success in battle, and let all our victories be tempered with humanity. Endow, also, our enemies with enlightened minds, that they become sensible of their injustice, and willing to restore our liberty and peace.
Grant the petition of Thy servant, for the sake of Him whom Thou hast called Thy beloved Son; nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done. Amen.
If you have time, you might want to consider more of Pres. Washington’s and Jefferson’s prayers. They are quite enlightening.