Democrats, Slavery, and the American Record

In both 2008 and 2012 black voters seemed to overwhelmingly favor Obama, and today, at least according to an August 8th headline at The Atlantic, Black Pastors Are Breaking the Law to Get Hillary Clinton Elected.

That article doesn't mention the fact that the Clintons are caricature Republicans: old, white, southern, and very rich - or that Obama's eight year war on the middle classes has left black Americans significantly worse off financially, socially, and psychologically than they were in 2007.

That contradiction underlies much of what is going on as black rights organizations do less and less for blacks and more and for Democrats.  The Black Lives Matter manifesto, for example, demands both reparations for slavery and solidarity with Palestinian terrorists, but quite fails to note that Muslims routinely participate in, and profi from, the modern slave trade.

A context free quotation attributed to a commentary on American education by Duke Pesta on the smalldeadanimals site suggests both the extent and the provenance of the public gullibility Democrats rely on to keep their voters from realizing just how newspeaky most of the public discourse on the social consequences of slavery has become:

I started giving quizzes to my juniors and seniors. I gave them a ten-question American history test... just to see where they are. The vast majority of my students - I'm talking nine out of ten, in every single class, for seven consecutive years - they have no idea that slavery existed anywhere in the world before the United States. Moses, Pharaoh, they know none of it. They're 100% convinced that slavery is a uniquely American invention... How do you give an adequate view of history and culture to kids when that's what they think of their own country - that America invented slavery? That's all they know.

What American students should know is quite the opposite of what Democrats want them to believe: slavery was brought to the Southern colonies by the English, not by Americans; the Constitution, the Declaration, applicable amendments, and the country's major civil rights legislation were all written and passed mainly by abolitionists and equal rights proponents; and no other country extant over the same period can show a greater commitment to moral leadership on the right side of world history on this issue than the United States.

What Pesta's students and people like those putative black pastors should also know is that the only reason racism persists as a serious force in the United States is that Democrats have, since the party's founding in the 1790s, been willing to ignore or subvert the Constitution and subordinate law in their efforts to perpetuate racial distinctions and rich white privilege.

First, there was no United States, and therefore no American responsibility for national law, prior to either April 19, 1775 or June 21, 1788 depending on how you view the significance of getting the paperwork done. Before 1776, English, not American, law ruled the colonies and the history of slavery in America from 1607 to the 1780s is therefore English history, not American history.

In the eighteenth and early 19th centuries slavery was endemic worldwide, and largely non racist in those parts of the British empire that did not have majority aboriginal populations - basically, the English aristocracy were equal opportunity exploiters whose social focus was on class, not racial, distinctions. Thus England sold nearly 600,000 Irish, Scots, English paupers, and Catholics into slavery during the 17th and 18th centuries; excluded its empire (then including all the American colonies) from its 1772 emancipation proclamation; excluded its richest slavers from the 1807 anti-slave trade bill; and, even in its 1833 abolition act not only specifically continued slavery in parts of the empire where it was most valuable to the English aristocracy, but included legislated asset protection for affected slave owners allowing them to turn the legally freed into indentured apprentices whose contracts were regularly bought and sold until well after Appomattox.

The English practice of selling off their undesirables as slaves or indentured servants helped precipitate the American rebellion - which started the nation off with a clean slate, an abolitionist focus, and a deep desire to end the crown's autocratic disregard for human rights -- and, 35 years later triggered the war of 1812 as the United States refused to accept the continuing English view that any man carrying English indenture or sired by an Englishman (as Obama’s birth certificate says) is the property of the English crown.

In 1774, for example, Benjamin Franklin, although now widely maligned in the press for inheriting slaves, was technically liable to be hung on capture by the English garrison for his role in the seditious Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery -- an organization which helped Pennsylvania pass the first full emancipation act in any English speaking colony (in 1780). More significantly, Franklin became the society's president in 1787 and was working on drafts of what became the first effective action taken anywhere in the English speaking world to end the slave trade (the 1794 Act to Prohibit the Carrying on of the Slave Trade which unequivocally outlawing the support, off-loading, or resupply of slave traders anywhere in the United States) when he died in 1790.

Second, slavery in America prior to union was mainly a financial, not a racist or political, matter. The conflation of racism, slavery, and politics did not become deeply established until well into the 19th century when derogatory terms like "lubber" and "somer" for the uneducated and unwilling among whites largely disappeared from the language while those uniquely applicable to people of African origin became increasingly popular through repetition as a verbal signal of allegiance to pro-slavery political opinion.

Thus Virginia, circa 1775, had black holders of white slaves and legal disputes about slave ownership or indentured obligations that were as spirited, and largely color blind, as those taking place in professional sports today.  But, by the time the Confederate Constitution was adopted in 1861 the people signing it saw nothing odd about identifying slavery only with Negros.

The American Revolution didn't happen in isolation from western world socio-economic change -- changes that had, by 1776, already made renting men by the workweek cheaper and more effective for urban work than owning families. Thus Northern abolitionists had a willing audience, Western states in which ranching or mining dominated generally became abolitionist, and the end of most of the white slave trade after 1776 allowed almost all of those already in place in the North to work themselves into the culture as free men.

Basically slavery would never have existed in the United States if England's 1772 emancipation act had applied in the colonies. It didn't, so the new nation inherited an inequity most of the founders were determined to see end as quickly as possible.  The political component of modern American racism is almost entirely a fictional construct of the Democratic Party, as Kimberly Bloom Jackson demonstrated in these pages last May (The Secret Racist History of the Democratic Party).

If you listen to today's Democrats, slavery in the union was an artefact of Republicanism with vicious old white men interrupting their money counting only long enough to sort of absently mindedly rape a few black women or children every day - but that image is almost entirely fictional. In reality what happened after 1776 was that social and economic changes already underway accelerated during the revolution to make the use of slaves, which had already been in doubt before the revolution, generally unprofitable after it. In general, however, old, well established, families with deep social and financial resources tend neither to see, nor to welcome, change affecting their way of life and so what we now think of as the Democratic Party evolved to cater to the Southern landowners’ desire to resist social change - on which, this bit of history from (astonishingly!) PBS:

The Democratic Party was formed in 1792, when supporters of Thomas Jefferson began using the name Republicans, or Jeffersonian Republicans, to emphasize its anti-aristocratic policies. It adopted its present name during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. In the 1840s and '50s, the party was in conflict over extending slavery to the Western territories. Southern Democrats insisted on protecting slavery in all the territories while many Northern Democrats resisted.

The party split over the slavery issue in 1860 at its Presidential convention in Charleston, South Carolina. Northern Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas as their candidate, and Southern Democrats adopted a pro-slavery platform and nominated John C. Breckinridge in an election campaign that would be won by Abraham Lincoln and the newly formed Republican Party. After the Civil War, most white Southerners opposed Radical Reconstruction and the Republican Party's support of black civil and political rights.

The Democratic Party identified itself as the "white man's party" and demonized the Republican Party as being "Negro dominated," even though whites were in control. Determined to re-capture the South, Southern Democrats "redeemed" state after state -- sometimes peacefully, other times by fraud and violence. By 1877, when Reconstruction was officially over, the Democratic Party controlled every Southern state.

Little of this has changed: up to the Civil War the Democrats were the landowners’ hirees fighting to maintain slavery; for a hundred years after the Civil War they were the party of Jim Crow, the party seeking to reduce black social mobility through the weakening of black families; denial of access to education, denial of access to financial resources, denial of access to property rights, and denial of civil rights -- and all of these strategies were continued with different tactics after the 1960s through Johnson's War on Poverty, Carter's Department of Education, disinformation campaigns turning low information voters into reflexive Democrats, and the Obama's administration's overtly racist embrace of race-baiters.

In 1792 the word "Democratic" in the party name had the same value as it does in the name of any People's Democratic Republic today, and that hasn't changed either -- today's vocal condemnation of 18th century slavery, for example, did not stop the Obama administration giving American political support and American taxpayer money, to get the People's Democratic Republic of Mauritania (where slavery is legal and teaching evolution is illegal) the chairmanship of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. More generally, today's liberal Democrats demand that all Americans acquiesce to Muslim religious slavery and the subjugation of women; promote hate and bigotry at every opportunity; put a prominent Sharia law advocate on the speaker's podium at their national convention; and get most of their campaign funding from the very rich and the financial industry companies they control.

Thus the reality contradicting modern democratic meme is that Lincoln was a Republican bitterly opposed by Democrats; Jim Crow, like its modern counterpart the minimum wage movement, was a Democratic Party creation; the KKK was a Democratic Party spinoff; the Civil Rights Act was passed by Republicans in both the House and the Senate over prolonged Democrat opposition; and Johnson's Qar on Poverty was a war on education and the black family.

Similarly, the reality of slave guilt in the United States is that American history is the history of the abolitionist and social equality movements constrained by Democrats, first as conservatives seeking to perpetuate the entitled lifestyle of the richest southern landowners and more recently as the apostles of liberal socialism supported by the big banks, the Fortune 100, and something like 91 of America's 100 richest families.

Ordinary working Americans have good reason to be proud of their country's record with respect to slavery, but no reason to become complacent.  The lawless combination of those who want large pools of cheap labor with those who see the development of an uneducated insurgent population as useful for political ends has command of the media, the schools, and the commanding heights of our culture.

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