Bachmann, Lincoln Agree: Founders Opposed Slavery

George Stephanopolous probably thinks he’s a pretty smart guy.  At least he didn’t call Michelle Bachmann a flake.  But his attack on her facts about our founders just might backfire against his own credibility.

For most, it really is no secret that many of our founding fathers did oppose slavery.  Even the ones who owned slaves saw it as more of a necessary evil.  To borrow from Hillary Clinton, who said this about abortion, they believed it was “horrible and tragic, but should be safe and legal”.  They understood though, that if they tried to fight the revolutionary war and civil war at the same time, they would lose both.  Still, they did fight to end slavery, even if only laying the groundwork for it’s final elimination.

John McCormack, writing in the Weekly Standard, is now demonstrating that Abraham Lincoln believed the same thing as Michelle Bachmann about our founder’s work to end slavery.  He used that argument in his own speeches against slavery.

From the article:

“The Founders put slavery on the path to ultimate extinction, Abraham Lincoln said. But the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 threatened to bring about slavery’s resurgence by opening up new territories to slaveowning. In 1854, Lincoln made this argument in a series of speeches on behalf of candidates opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. “In these addresses Lincoln set forth the themes that he would carry into the presidency six years later,” writes Princeton’s James M. McPherson in the Battle Cry of Freedom. McPherson summarizes Lincoln’s argument:

The founding fathers, said Lincoln, had opposed slavery. They adopted a Declaration of Independence that pronounced all men created equal. They enacted the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banning slavery from the vast Northwest Territory. To be sure, many of the founders owned slaves. But they asserted their hostility to slavery in principle while tolerating it temporarily (as they hoped) in practice. That was why they did not mention the words “slave” or “slavery” in the Constitution, but referred only to “persons held to service.” “Thus, the thing is hid away, in the constitution,” said Lincoln, “just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a cancer, which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time.” The first step was to prevent the spread of this cancer, which the fathers took with the Northwest Ordinance, the prohibition of the African slave trade in 1807, and the Missouri Compromise restriction of 1820. The second was to begin a process of gradual emancipation, which the generation of the fathers had accomplished in the states north of Maryland.

Here’s what Lincoln said of the Founding Fathers in his 1854 Peoria speech:

The argument of “Necessity” was the only argument they ever admitted in favor of slavery; and so far, and so far only as it carried them, did they ever go. They found the institution existing among us, which they could not help; and they cast blame upon the British King for having permitted its introduction. BEFORE the constitution, they prohibited its introduction into the north-western Territory—-the only country we owned, then free from it. AT the framing and adoption of the constitution, they forbore to so much as mention the word “slave” or “slavery” in the whole instrument. In the provision for the recovery of fugitives, the slave is spoken of as a “PERSON HELD TO SERVICE OR LABOR.” In that prohibiting the abolition of the African slave trade for twenty years, that trade is spoken of as “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States NOW EXISTING, shall think proper to admit,” &c. These are the only provisions alluding to slavery. Thus, the thing is hid away, in the constitution, just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or a cancer, which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time. Less than this our fathers COULD not do; and NOW [MORE?] they WOULD not do. Necessity drove them so far, and farther, they would not go. But this is not all. The earliest Congress, under the constitution, took the same view of slavery. They hedged and hemmed it in to the narrowest limits of necessity.

In 1794, they prohibited an out-going slave-trade—-that is, the taking of slaves FROM the United States to sell.

In 1798, they prohibited the bringing of slaves from Africa, INTO the Mississippi Territory—-this territory then comprising what are now the States of Mississippi and Alabama. This was TEN YEARS before they had the authority to do the same thing as to the States existing at the adoption of the constitution.

In 1800 they prohibited AMERICAN CITIZENS from trading in slaves between foreign countries—-as, for instance, from Africa to Brazil.

In 1803 they passed a law in aid of one or two State laws, in restraint of the internal slave trade.

In 1807, in apparent hot haste, they passed the law, nearly a year in advance to take effect the first day of 1808—-the very first day the constitution would permit—-prohibiting the African slave trade by heavy pecuniary and corporal penalties.

In 1820, finding these provisions ineffectual, they declared the trade piracy, and annexed to it, the extreme penalty of death. While all this was passing in the general government, five or six of the original slave States had adopted systems of gradual emancipation; and by which the institution was rapidly becoming extinct within these limits.

Thus we see, the plain unmistakable spirit of that age, towards slavery, was hostility to the PRINCIPLE, and toleration, ONLY BY NECESSITY.

In Lincoln’s famous 1860 Cooper Union speech, he noted that of the 39 framers of the Constitution, 22 had voted on the question of banning slavery in the new territories. Twenty of the 22 voted to ban it, while another one of the Constitution’s framers—George Washington—signed into law legislation enforcing the Northwest Ordinance that banned slavery in the Northwest Territories. At Cooper Union, Lincoln also quoted Thomas Jefferson, who had argued in favor of Virginia emancipation: “It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly….””

 

Trump Has His Way With Obama

In Obama’s birth certificate speech, where he called on others to not be divisive and then called birthers a bunch of circus barkers, Obama claimed that he was releasing his birth certificate because that story was overshadowing the budget debate. But according to ABC’s Jake Tapper, a Pew Research study showed that the budget still outplayed the birther story in the media even over the past week.

So that leaves us with two very important questions. Why did Obama release his birth certificate yesterday, and of course the big one: why did Obama wait until yesterday to release his birth certificate?

Trump Did It (?)

Trump did not view the birth certificate release as a defeat. Instead, he took credit for it, claiming to be honored that he was able to do what others had not. While this may be Trump’s ego talking, he has a point. Trump gave this story legs and legitimacy that it had not enjoyed before. Trump even got the media to start scratching their heads and wonder why Obama wouldn’t simply release it.

Trump may not end up being a serious candidate for President, but he has a charisma that most deep intellectual GOP candidates lack. Romney, Gingrich, and Pawlenty may know that Obama is dead wrong in his policies, but they haven’t stood up like Chris Rock in Head of State and shouted “That ain’t right!” to a wildly cheering crowd who doesn’t really care if he knows what IS “right”.

The other question is why wait until yesterday? Let me offer this suggestion: the birthers provided Obama with a clear extreme to campaign against. Having that issue outstanding, and the ace up his sleeve, gave Obama the chance to paint the TEA Party and conservatives as lunatic fringe. Between that and the race card, this President and his supporters have already prepared their 2012 answers to the question of “why am I not better off than I was four years ago”. What the “last eight years” did for Obama in 2008, the title racist birther was going to do the same in 2012. Now the birther card is played. One less distraction, as the President himself called it, is laid to rest. We are getting dangerously closer to having to focus on issues in 2012.

Love or hate Trump, and whether this was for his ego’s sake or dumb luck, Donald Trump has done the GOP a huge favor by gambling on the birther issue. And perhaps Trump lost this gamble, but Obama has one less ace up his sleeve.

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