Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

1789-1865: foundation of this country was slavery and racist

Racism: our schools should teach kids about it. Tues, July 13, 9 p.m., on “Mouthwash,” John Schmitz’s FB podcast, the topic: Critical Race Theory (“CRT”), i.e., a view that racism “is embedded in our society and legal systems to uphold supremacy of white persons.”

Three periods reflect ways our “legal systems uphold supremacy of white persons.” From 1789 to 1865, racism was built into the Constitution (“three fifths of all other persons” (Art. I, § 2); “Importation of such Persons” (Art. I, §9).

The Constitution mentions neither “slavery” nor “white people,” but the “judicial Power of the United States” is “vested in one supreme Court” (Art. III, §1) and the Court clearly embedded racism in our political system in Dred Scott v Sanford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856).

Chief Justice Taney wrote the opinion and stated the issue: “Can a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves” become a citizen of the United States “entitled to all the rights” of a citizen? SCOTUS said “no.” 60 U.S. at 403.

From 1789, Black people were “considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race...” 60 U.S. at 404-05; been “regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it.” 60 U.S. at 404-05.

Dred Scott was the law of this country. Chief Justice Taney rationalized slavery by race. Slavery was protected by The Constitution (Art. I, §9; Art. V) and to amend required super-majorities in both houses of Congress and the States. (Art. V.)

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, enacted by the Congress and signed into law by Pres Fillmore, penalized people who aided those who sought to escape slavery. The matter of slavery was economic and also very racial.

Texas’s secession statement noted non-slave-holding States’ hostility “to Southern States and [the] beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery”; and called “the doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color” debasing and a violation of Divine Law.

Mississippi noted slavery supplied the product (cotton) “peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions...: and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun... [A] blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.”

Without the Civil War it is highly unlikely slavery would have been abolished in this country. The votes were not there. And while the Southern States seceded to protect slavery, President Lincoln did not seek its abolition until later in the Civil War.

Ours is a governmental system in which enslavement of Black people by the “dominant” race was status quo and only abolished because slave States became indignant that slavery could not be expanded. Racism could hardly be more embedded.

If we do not teach our children about our history and the ways in which racism was embedded in our founding, they will not understand how we have racial divisions today or why the right to vote is so critical.

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Comment by pogden297 on July 11, 2021 at 9:51pm

So if the Civil War didn't happen, slavery would still exist today, in 2021?  Surely you don't mean that.

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