June 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm #31979
Robert, I am pretty sure they were whigs. George Washington is the star of the revolutionary war. He rejected kingship when offered. I think he was intent on a democracy and a sovereign nation. Sure he had slaves but did he need them or put the ownership of them above the country itself? I don’t think so. He would have seen the act as sedition and treason.
And Jefferson also was all about this country…declaration of independence, continental congress, vp…president. And i think deep down he knew he was wrong about slavery and i have some vague memory of him prognosticating or hoping for a gradual emancipation.June 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm #31980
Yeah, that is right Reg, he did free his slaves. So that one is a no brainer.June 30, 2020 at 8:10 pm #31981
Even if you think slavery is the dispositive issue Jefferson may have been moved by the change in zeitgeist by 1861. Couple his deep seated misgivings with the anti slavery speakers, publications and stirrings…maybe Jefferson does the right thing.June 30, 2020 at 8:46 pm #31982
No doubt all of the founding fathers from North and South loved the young nation, but would it even hold together without the huge economic boost provided by slavery? That was the dilemma they faced and so they just kicked the can down the road. Even Franklin owned slaves as a young man. The founding fathers from the South would have never signed up for a country without slavery. There would have been a split back in the 1770’s.June 30, 2020 at 8:56 pm #31983
Even so Robert you can’t utilize the founder’s frame of reference at inception of union. There is a famous quote that escapes me…author and text…but it is something like..the only thing worse than a revolutionary government is a reform government. (maybe it was Lincoln Steffens) So the revolutionary fighters who fight against oppression become the oppressors.
And yeah slavery was critical to the economy of the south. They even used it to threaten England by withdrawing the sale of cotton if Britain would not support south. But in each instance economic interests are not static. The world was changing. I forgot what year Britain banned slavery but it was before USA. The times were changing in terms of mores and slavery is not the sine qua non of a working economy.June 30, 2020 at 9:08 pm #31984
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
@jakelafort I have some vague memory of him prognosticating or hoping for a gradual emancipation.
Yes, I remember thinking that too at some point.
I may not have the context completely correct with this quote by Jefferson when he wrote:
“These have sucked in the principles of liberty as it were with their mother’s milk, and it is to them I look with anxiety to turn the fate of this question”.
He was referring to the upcoming generation (of Virginians) and leaving the task of abolition to them (I doubt if Jefferson would ever have given the slave York a hunting musket to shoot buffalo).June 30, 2020 at 9:52 pm #31985
…. founder’s frame of reference at inception of union..
I agree, however it was a lot more convenient for those founders based in the increasingly industrialized North. Cheap immigrant labor from across the lake didn’t hurt either. I used to give them the benefit of doubt but these days I am gonna be harder on them, they had the chance. They knew the Brits did the right thing. And they let the Southern founders get away with that 3/5 of a person bullshit. Overrepresentation thanks to slaves. Reminds me a bit of the electoral college now. Too bad they didn’t have twitter, then we would know what they really thought.June 30, 2020 at 10:12 pm #31986
Put the Confederate statues in museums!
It’s your friendly theist… who happens to also be the descendant of American Slaves/i.e. African American. First of all, I laughed out loud when I read “Slavery is the country’s original sin.” and the comment, “Amazing how deep rooted biblical nonsense is rooted even amongst atheists. Just yesterday I slipped out a ‘thank god‘.” But I digress.
I do have a question. From an atheist and humanist perspective, is the idea of enslaving other human beings for ones profit and pleasure “wrong” because it hurts the collective social and potentially biological evolutionary development of our species? This question may be a little bit of leading the witness, but I do hope you can forgive me because I simply may not fully understand the ethics of being against slavery as an atheist.
Don’t get me wrong – I love this discussion and I love it that my fellow white american countrymen are also seeing what my family has talked about my entire 57 years on this planet (black families ALWAYS talk about these things… it’s our little secret).
Personally, I think that many of the Confederate statues should be in a museum and put in an honest and accurate context. However, the founders should not be removed – they started this country, albeit, they didn’t go far enough IMHO because they didn’t create a path to abolish slavery. I also think that tearing them down by mobs is not helping the cause – but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, why – from an atheist perspective – why was the Confederacy “wrong” with regard to the enslavement of black Africans? I’m not asking about “right” and “wrong” from a personal values or personal ethics point of view – I know everyone here has morals, values and are ethical – the conversation shows that and we all probably agree. I’m asking more, why does it matter. A corollary would be, how do we socially, culturally and philosophically “enforce” the anti-slavery, anti-confederacy ethic? Of course, they were rebels and lost – but the 13 colonies were rebels too, about 90 years earlier, but they won. Is the difference really based on who wins?
Your thoughts?June 30, 2020 at 10:14 pm #31988
Yeah Robert that is why i originally quoted Twain…show me where a man gets his corn pone and i will show you where he gets his pinions. Bottom line is that rights are taken not given. Humans suck the world over. I don’t understand historians who get all teary-eyed and nostalgic. Maybe some primitive people ought to be excluded..not sure…i liked that article on the Himba tribe.June 30, 2020 at 10:20 pm #31990
Fullermingjr, I do not know what atheist perspective means with respect to slavery. There is a human perspective. It is so outstandingly a violation of decency that it hardly needs examination. And what is an atheist perspective? There is no such thing. You won’t find a monolith among atheists.June 30, 2020 at 10:28 pm #31991
@_Robert_, I agree – the founders ” kicked the can down the road”. I also agree that the Southern states may not have signed on and the split would have occurred in the 1770’s as opposed to in the 1860’s. The Union may have never formed. But do you think they could have at least negotiated a path toward abolishing slavery? This county – I think – would be much further along in so many ways – not just racially – if the collective brain-power of the other 15% to 17% of the population and the “melting pot” was truly a melting pot. (Slaves made up about 17% of the US population in 1780).June 30, 2020 at 10:42 pm #31992
jakelafort – fair enough, no monolith among atheists, and that’s true about theist, too – of the Christian Variety (which I happen to be)… but my question isn’t meant to oversimplify anything. Maybe you can speak for yourself. I’m trying to understand what make owning another person a “violation of decency that it hardly needs examination”. Sure, my gut (especially as a black man) screams when I think about it. In addition, look at my complexion – some slave master had a field-day with an enslaved field-hand. It’s a “great” legacy that even divides the black community (which is also not a monolith – but, as long as we are careful, such handles have some value).
My question is only looking for the basis beyond my gut for the definition of decency. Maybe there is none, and that’s good enough. We are simply here as a species and for some reason, we just shouldn’t keep killing and hurting each other (but we do). My question is not meant to frustrate. Look – in the midst of this pandemic and the murder of George Floyd and the tearing down of Confederate Symbols (the topic of this thread), I was wondering WHY, beyond my own or your own opinion. If “self-evident” didn’t guide the founders in the Declaration of Independence to at least create a path to end slavery, then WHY is slavery, etc a “violation of decency that it hardly needs examination” which implies it is, “self-evident”. Apparently, it is not self-evident since here we are, 155 years after the Civil war, still having these problems in our nation. I would like a STRONG position – other than my Christian faith – to argue the point, that’s all. Again, maybe all we have is our own, individual feelings and sense of the evils of chattel slavery.June 30, 2020 at 11:03 pm #31995
fullermingjr, from my perspective it is simple. It is the golden rule. We know it is wrong because we can envision ourselves or loved ones being slaves. Discard the religious imposition of morality (which is a reflection of the power structure and in turn unjust) and liberate one’s judgment. One is free to have empathy/compassion and to use reason to judge of right and wrong.
Being just slightly circumspect before treading on the well being of another will inure to the benefit of all. But when we utilize religion as a guide we are frozen in time and can not hope to ameliorate the horrific wrongs of the past. Thank Christ for the renaissance. See what i did there?June 30, 2020 at 11:20 pm #31996
I don’t think you can rely on the founding fathers for some grand guide of what is self-evident. Just because they found some things self-evident but over looked other things, doesn’t make them not self-evident. Turning another human being into an object is abhorrent in most moral systems. It is certainly so in: deontological, utilitarian and consequentialist ones. You don’t have to examine slavery very far to realize that these are totally incompatible with these systems. It gets a little hazier when you look into a few other moral systems, most certainly dogmatic ones. Considering the deontological, utilitarian and consequentialist moral systems are the dominant influences on Western morality, then jake is pretty much right. It’s self evident in contemporary western tradition.June 30, 2020 at 11:22 pm #31997
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