September 18, 2019
As the Founding Fathers composed and debated the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, they understood slavery was a disease forced upon the colonies by England’s King George III. Many Founders wanted to address and abolish slavery from the start, as demonstrated by Thomas Jefferson’s scathing condemnation of the king in the Declaration. (see The Forgotten Midnight Ride) The colonists tried multiple times to end slavery in their areas, yet were always overruled by their British leadership or the king himself.
Once the colonies began composing their own state constitutions, following their declared independence, many in the North willingly abolished the unwanted institution. (see Free And Equal) Likewise, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 helped establish a free North. (see Charting A New Course) Unfortunately, the country was not unified on this issue, forcing Congress and presidents to take various actions over the years, including the Fugitive Slave Laws, to hold the country together.
To honor states’ rights, the Founders including Article IV, Section 2 in the Constitution to address slaveowners’ concerns of escaped slaves reaching the recently declared free states and territories, who wanted confirmation that they would be able to get their runaway slaves back. (see Constitution Day) Without condoning slavery or making it a Constitutional right, the document declared:
“Hitler did not have to destroy democracy; he merely took advantage of the decay of democracy and at the critical moment obtained the support of many to whom, though they detested Hitler, he yet seemed the only man strong enough to get things done.”
- The Road to Serfdom
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“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
- Soren Kierkegaard