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home : opinions : letters May 29, 2016

2/23/2013 1:01:00 PM
Letter: That’s what I like about this country


Vicki Jo Anderson admonishes others, “Don’t rewrite history.” Has examined early documents and discussions. Quotes Patrick Henry from the 1788 Virginia state convention. Nowhere can she find “the debate was about slaves or slave uprisings.”

She overlooked this, apparently.

Patrick Henry, from Article 4, Section 4, Document 9, Debate in Virginia Ratifying Convention, 14 June, 1788: “If there should happen an insurrection of slaves, the country cannot be said to be invaded. They cannot, therefore, suppress it without the interposition of Congress...state legislatures ought to have power to call forth the efforts of the militia, when necessary…there is no power in the states to quell an insurrection of slaves.”

Expressing concern that Congress would conscript slaves as a pretext to free them: “In this state (Virginia) there are two-hundred-and-thirty-six thousand blacks, and there are many in several other states…May Congress not say, that every black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this in the last war?…May they not pronounce all slaves free, and will they not be warranted by that power?”

The man who proclaimed, “…give me Liberty..!” In fairness, he hated slavery, but thought it a necessary evil. An economic necessity.

The compromise reached was a Fugitive Slave Clause. Congress would be prohibited from abolishing African slave trade for twenty years. Slaves, counted as three-fifths of a free person for Congressional representation and taxation purposes. A Bill of Rights, which included the Second Amendment.

Virginia was the tenth state to ratify, and crucial to the vote. If it had walked out of the Convention, ratification would have failed (and a “Fort Sumter” might have occurred three-score-and-ten years earlier). Tobacco grower Thomas Jefferson owned 385 to 500 slaves; he freed only eight (all blood related), 200 being sold on the auction block to provide funds for his estate. Patrick Henry owned 79. George Mason, 300.

The 1790 Census showed a total U.S. population of 3,893,635, of which, 694,280 were slaves. They comprised almost half the population in Virginia, and North Carolina. Near Stono, South Carolina, September 1739, twenty slaves decapitated two storekeepers, displayed their heads on the front steps, sacked and burned homes, killing as they went, shouting “Liberty!” During the Revolutionary War, tens-of-thousands joined the British side; 3,000 from New York were resettled in Nova Scotia, recorded as Black Loyalists, and given land.

It is disingenuous to say that slavery and slaves go unmentioned in the Federalist Papers. As a political expedient, Hamilton and Madison scrupulously avoided the touchy subject.

The Founders were fallible, imperfect human beings; not demigods, bringing stone tablets down the mountain. Products of 18th Century rationalism -- convinced that reason trumps supernatural revelation -- they would have detested such idolatry. Ms. Anderson has given us a worshipful, sanitized narrative of events. The rough-and-tumble of the facts speak for themselves. She is guilty of that which she accuses others.

Revisionism. By glaring omission.

Truth doesn’t need a piece of parchment hanging on a nail. Doesn’t require a visa, affidavit or bona fides.

Quite often, it is seen traveling with its sibling, courage.

Ms. Anderson presumes to channel the Founders’ intent. Even Supreme Court justices can’t agree among themselves what the Second Amendment means.

That’s what I like about this country.

John Lockway


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

J. Lockway re "resident Voltaire:"

Huh? Voltaire spoke truth to power, and suffered imprisonment as a result. I simply corrected you, and suffered an irrelevant response. No comparison.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: John Lockway

To “Nutso Fasst”

Your statement puzzles me.

Citing the absence of slaves and slavery in the Federalist Papers as proof the Second Amendment did not address that issue is an example of a specious half-truth, used to bolster an unwarranted conclusion contrary to the facts. By your definition, Orwellian. For background on this, Google ‘meme’, including key words such as ‘psyop’, ‘DARPA’, and ‘disinformation’.

The DoD employed this tactic in Iraq, planting articles with fake bylines in local papers, with ‘Iraqi’ journalists singing the praises of the occupation. We got the hell out of Dodge, but Shia and Sunni are still fragging each other with relish, with no comment from the Pentagon (wish we had a $trillion money-back guarantee).

Telling a half-truth -- that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with slavery -- is ‘disingenuous’ (definition: ‘withholding information’). Utilized to cover up or invert a greater truth is Orwellian.


Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: John Lockway

To “In Truth and Courage... What Say You…”

Says I -- did I once try to take away your right to bear arms (or bare arms, for that matter)? Your words touch upon the crux of the problem. First, you defend yourself, then your family, followed by clan, tribe, community, state, and country. The Founders’ would have said the same thing -- in reverse order.

In a Federal system of government, that’s the context of ‘well-regulated.’

To “Nux Man”

Actually, the ancient Athenians own the patent on the idea of freedom. They talked about it quite a bit in the Agora -- accompanied, usually, by a retinue of house slaves (estimates are, one-quarter to one-third the total population of Periclean Athens).

Hamilton’s and Madison’s anti-slavery sentiments and activities are well-documented. Re-read my words ‘as a political expedient.’ They were attempting to persuade slave-owning anti-Federalists. What do you think would have been the outcome if either of them had used the Federalist Papers to indulge in an abolitionist rant?

Better half a loaf than burning down the bakery, I always say.

To “Nutso Fasst”

High praise, indeed, coming from this blog’s resident Voltaire. I may not always agree with your conclusions, but hearing the clear voice of reason is always worth the price of admission.

Merci beaucoup.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

"It is disingenuous to say that slavery and slaves go unmentioned in the Federalist Papers."
It is Orwellian to say that truth is disingenuous.

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Peter Nelson

I agree, John. Freedom to think for oneself, freedom to do one's own research, freedom to seek education, freedom to speak, and the freedom to protect oneself are what America is about.

Naturally, all those freedoms result in disagreement. The founders gave us a system of self government which enables constant, civilized (theoretically) argument and (theoretically) compromise in order to "make a more perfect union".

We honor the founders by educating ourselves and speaking our truth to each other and to our elected representatives. The founders never expected that we would all agree on everything, but they did expect free argument among free citizens and their representatives.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: In Truth and Courage... What Say You...

John of Cornville, do we have a duty and right
to defend our selves, our families, our clan,
our tribe, our community, our state, our country?

Futher, do we have a right to own and bear arms.

As you know, today's gun control politicians
would like us to believe in their "politically
correct" (but untrue) expressions that we must
depent on their supplied "First Responders"
and our military to keep us safe and sound
in other words to defend us in all situations.

Our poloticians need to stop usiing the false
and miss-leading "First Responders" phrase.

Even though they may respond on site in 5 to
20 minutes (or longer)...they in fact are the
"Last Responders"...the first responder is the
victim or another person who respond to
the aid of the victim, or is the first person who
makes the 911 call,....,etc.

The phrase "First Responders" is being
abused for PC or public-relations reasons.
Just one person's observations.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: kudo's mr. lockway... .

that's the funny thing about history... it is always there to remind us that it does not vanish simply because we say so.

and yes- the reference to the stone tablets is apt..

the gun is the new golden calf it seems... for so many to worship at the altar of the almighty large capacity magazine is disconcerting...

and flies in the face of all that the good book tries to teach.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: nutso fasst

"Truth doesn’t need a piece of parchment hanging on a nail...Quite often, it is seen traveling with its sibling, courage."
I hope those who come here only for amusement take the time to express their appreciation for that gem.

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

Imagine that, white people of means in control of a new country writing laws to protect their own interests while making sure to limit those of a minority.

Why, that could never happen in such an the exceptional country as the US, would it?

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Nux Man

But then I find this:
James Madison, Federalist, No. 54 - "American citizens are instrumental in carrying on a traffic in enslaved Africans, equally in violation of of the laws of humanity and in defiance of those of their own country." Yet he owned slaves his whole life. He knew this was wrong and worked to shift the tide (in my opinion).
On Hamilton also having "scrupulously avoided the touchy subject" he was an officer in the NY Manumission Society and was criticized for suggesting no members be allowed to own slaves. He was raised on the Island of St. Croix and at 17 penned a letter about the travesty of slavery after a storm tore the island apart, it was the instrument that convinced wealthy sponsors to send him to NY for college - they hoped he'd return, but the revolution happened & he could not.
My point is that the 2nd Amendment is what it is, period. The Right To Own Guns. No other country on the planet has such authority going to it's populace - actually the reverse, and any attempt to twist & turn it into something else will only unleash the very discontent the political elite fear the most = insurrection.
The founders were not gods, they were people, but they had an idea called freedom, and they had the foresight to keep the power with the populace and not the politicians. Does anyone realize that these men, who owned slaves themselves, were working towards a nation that would allow these very same slaves to own their own land, businesses, AND guns? They knew, but they also knew that bigots are never moved by force, they're moved by coercion - slow methodical coercion.
The difference we see today is the morality of the various social coercions, or the lack of it actually. The founders had ethical ideals, this socialism we see today is devoid of any ethics.
Yes Mr. Lockway, maybe Ms. Anderson overlooked a thing or two, but then so did you, as I'm sure I have also, but I believe the true issue is the morality of our motives. Why does govt, want to curtail our gun ownership? To save children from maniacs? Or to disarm the most powerful population ever to exist on planet earth? Find the level of morality in their motives and you'll find the answer quick enough.
Pelosi opened this the other day when she said that a congressional pay freeze/cut would undermine the dignity of the office, to which hundreds of thousands of citizens asked, What Dignity?

Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013
Article comment by: Misses the point

Mr. Lockway's otherwise well written letter misses the point: slavery and and the constitutional right to bear arms are simply not directly related.

One can make the argument they are tangentially connected, and clearly that's the best this letter can do -- tangents.

Sorry Mr. Lockway. Without a good fundamental grasp of the underlying issues you wont' get very far.

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