As my previous article in this series demonstrated, the historical evidence clearly indicates that none of the Founders or the Constitution itself provides any support for homosexuality or the preposterous notion of same-sex “marriage.” The written works and deeds of such notable luminaries as Jefferson, Washington and Blackstone confirm this indisputable fact. And the anti-sodomy laws of every single one of the original 13 colonies also provide definitive additional proof against the far-fetched claims of the homosexual lobby. In this column, though, we will soundly refute the modern attempts to smear the Founders’ reputation by those who manipulatively paint with a broad historical brush, appealing to their alleged support for slavery and the passage of the Three-Fifths Compromise.
First of all, many of the Founding Fathers did not support slavery, and some went so far as to zealously fight against it. Many never even owned any slaves. For example, John Adams proclaimed, “[M]y opinion against it [slavery] has always been known … [N]ever in my life did I own a slave.” There were also certain Founders like Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush who established America’s very first anti-slavery organization, the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, in 1774.
Although his father, Peter Jay, was one of the largest slaveholders in the state of New York, John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States, became one of the most outspoken advocates for the abolition movement and was the president the New York State Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves. When William Livingston, a signer of the Constitution and Governor of New Jersey, heard about Jay’s New York society, he wrote to him, expressing his sincere desire,
I would most ardently wish to become a member of it [the society in New York] and … I can safely promise them that neither my tongue, nor my pen, nor purse shall be wanting to promote the abolition of what to me appears so inconsistent with humanity and Christianity … May the great and the equal Father of the human race, who has expressly declared His abhorrence of oppression, and that He is no respecter of persons, succeed a design so laudably calculated to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke.
Other prominent Founding Fathers were also members of abolition societies which fervently fought to end the evil institution of slavery. These include James Madison, James Monroe, Richard Bassett, Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, William Few, John Marshall, Richard Stockton and Zephaniah Swift — among many others. And based upon the tireless efforts of these Founders, several states began abolishing slavery very early in our nation’s history (Pennsylvania and Massachusetts — 1780; Connecticut and Rhode Island — 1784; Vermont — 1786; New Hampshire — 1792; New York — 1799; and New Jersey — 1804.)
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There were those who had owned slaves as British citizens, but eventually released them in the years following America’s break from Great Britain (George Washington, John Dickinson, Caesar Rodney, William Livingston, George Wythe, John Randolph of Roanoke, and others). And it was George Washington himself who declared, “I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery].”
Some have harshly criticized Thomas Jefferson for possessing slaves and never granting their freedom. However, Virginia’s notorious pro-slavery laws required that emancipators provide a livelihood and support for their freed slaves. Jefferson did not have the personal finances required to fulfill this burdensome financial obligation. Speaking to an abolitionist minister friend in Illinois, he regretfully protested, “[T]he laws do not permit us to turn the loose.” Throughout his public life, though, Jefferson remained an abolition advocate.
When he began his political career in the Virginia state legislature in 1769, Jefferson and senior statesman Richard Bland proposed legislation for the “emancipation of slaves.” Their effort was soundly defeated. Similarly, in 1778, Jefferson introduced and succeeded in passing legislation to ban the importation of slaves into Virginia from other countries. The next year, he also presented a bill that would “emancipate all slaves born after passing the act,” but the measure failed. Nevertheless, he continued to hold strongly to the principle that “[n]othing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.”
In 1770 and 1772, Jefferson argued in court for the freedom of two slaves. And in an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, King George III’s refusal to allow the colonies to abolish slavery was included among his list of grievances, but it was later removed to appease South Carolina and Georgia.
Jefferson also wrote a letter to Jacques Pierre de Warville, the founder of an anti-slavery society, articulating his personal convictions regarding the matter of slavery, “You know that nobody wishes more ardently to see an abolition not only of the trade, but of the condition of slavery, and certainly nobody will be more willing to encounter every sacrifice for that object.” He also wrote numerous similar correspondences to many other friends, colleagues, ministers and abolitionists.
Below are a number of quotes collected by David Barton. They definitively prove that anti-slavery sentiments were held by a great number of our nation’s Founders:
“But to the eye of reason, what can be more clear than that all men have an equal right to happiness? Nature made no other distinction than that of higher or lower degrees of power of mind and body … Were the talents and virtues which Heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges? … No! In the judgment of heaven there is no other superiority among men than a superiority of wisdom and virtue.” — Samuel Adams, Signer of the Declaration, “Father of the American Revolution”
“[W]hy keep alive the question of slavery? It is admitted by all to be a great evil.” — Charles Carroll, Signer of the Declaration
“As Congress is now to legislate for our extensive territory lately acquired, I pray to Heaven that they may build up the system of the government on the broad, strong, and sound principles of freedom. Curse not the inhabitants of those regions, and of the United States in general, with a permission to introduce bondage [slavery].” — John Dickinson, Signer of the Constitution and Governor of Pennsylvania
“I am glad to hear that the disposition against keeping negroes grows more general in North America. Several pieces have been lately printed here against the practice, and I hope in time it will be taken into consideration and suppressed by the legislature.” — Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration and Signer of the Constitution
“That mankind are all formed by the same Almighty Being, alike objects of his care, and equally designed for the enjoyment of happiness, the Christian religion teaches us to believe, and the political creed of Americans fully coincides with the position … [We] earnestly entreat your serious attention to the subject of slavery – that you will be pleased to countenance the restoration of liberty to those unhappy men who alone in this land of freedom are degraded into perpetual bondage and who … are groaning in servile subjection. — Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration and Signer of the Constitution
“That men should pray and fight for their own freedom and yet keep others in slavery is certainly acting a very inconsistent, as well as unjust and perhaps impious, part.” — John Jay, President of Continental Congress and first Chief Justice U. S. Supreme Court
“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other … And with what execration [curse] should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other … And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.” Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States
“Christianity, by introducing into Europe the truest principles of humanity, universal benevolence, and brotherly love, had happily abolished civil slavery. Let us who profess the same religion practice its precepts … by agreeing to this duty.” Richard Henry Lee, President of Continental Congress and Signer of the Declaration
“I have seen it observed by a great writer that Christianity, by introducing into Europe the truest principles of humanity, universal benevolence, and brotherly love, had happily abolished civil slavery. Let us, who profess the same religion practice its precepts, and by agreeing to this duty convince the world that we know and practice our truest interests, and that we pay a proper regard to the dictates of justice and humanity!” Richard Henry Lee, Signer of the Declaration and Framer of the Bill of Rights
“I hope we shall at last, and if it so please God I hope it may be during my life time, see this cursed thing [slavery] taken out … For my part, whether in a public station or a private capacity, I shall always be prompt to contribute my assistance towards effecting so desirable an event.” — William Livingston, Signer of the Constitution and Governor of New Jersey.
“[I]t ought to be considered that national crimes can only be and frequently are punished in this world by national punishments; and that the continuance of the slave-trade, and thus giving it a national sanction and encouragement, ought to be considered as justly exposing us to the displeasure and vengeance of Him who is equally Lord of all and who views with equal eye the poor African slave and his American master.” — Luther Martin, Delegate at Constitution Convention
“As much as I value a union of all the States, I would not admit the Southern States into the Union unless they agree to the discontinuance of this disgraceful trade [slavery].” — George Mason, Delegate at Constitutional Convention
“Honored will that State be in the annals of history which shall first abolish this violation of the rights of mankind.” — Joseph Reed, Revolutionary Officer and Governor of Pennsylvania
“Domestic slavery is repugnant to the principles of Christianity … It is rebellion against the authority of a common Father. It is a practical denial of the extent and efficacy of the death of a common Savior. It is an usurpation of the prerogative of the great Sovereign of the universe who has solemnly claimed an exclusive property in the souls of men.” — Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration
“The commerce in African slaves has breathed its last in Pennsylvania. I shall send you a copy of our late law respecting that trade as soon as it is published. I am encouraged by the success that has finally attended the exertions of the friends of universal freedom and justice.” — Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration, Founder of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, President of the National Abolition Movement
“Justice and humanity require it [the end of slavery] – Christianity commands it. Let every benevolent … pray for the glorious period when the last slave who fights for freedom shall be restored to the possession of that inestimable right.” — Noah Webster, Responsible for Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution
“Slavery, or an absolute and unlimited power in the master over the life and fortune of the slave, is unauthorized by the common law … The reasons which we sometimes see assigned for the origin and the continuance of slavery appear, when examined to the bottom, to be built upon a false foundation. In the enjoyment of their persons and of their property, the common law protects all.” — James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice
“[I]t is certainly unlawful to make inroads upon others … and take away their liberty by no better means than superior power.” — John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration
As for the Three-Fifths Compromise, it is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution, and reads as follows:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
The compromise was proposed by James Wilson (PA) and Roger Sherman (CT), two northern anti-slavery delegates to the Constitutional Convention. The clause was not intended to indicate the innate worth of any individual, but to address federal representation. Since slaves accounted for a large percentage of the population in the southern states, the Three-Fifths Compromise effectively limited the pro-slavery South’s influence in Congress and also functioned as an incentive for emancipation. The clause specifically pertained to “other [non-free] persons;” therefore, it did not actually contain a racial component – it doesn’t explicitly refer to blacks. Instead, if the South wanted greater representation, then all they had to do was free their slaves, but if they refused to do so, then they would be punished by diminished leverage in Congress. In fact, Free Blacks in the North and South were counted exactly the same as any other American citizen for the purposes of congressional representation. This explains why the venerable Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave and social reformer known for his exceptional oratory skills, considered the Three-Fifths Compromise an important anti-slavery provision of the Constitution.
Also, it should be noted that it was predominantly Bible-believing Christians who led the abolition movement that culminated in the emancipation of all slaves on January 1, 1863 with the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.
Ultimately, the claim that the Founders supported slavery is, in many cases, patently false and an example of outright misinformation, and in other instances, an oversimplification of the historical record in an attempt to undermine the authority of the Constitution. As we have seen, however, this homosexual ruse does not hold water, and there is no reason to doubt the value, significance and reliability of our nation’s foundational document. The legal justification for same-sex “marriage” simply does not exist. Except in the delusional minds of the depraved.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.