Friar Bijou wrote:
"Built on racism"? Really? That's an incredibly... simplistic, view of things. Painfully so. Again, if that were really the case, then why bother with all of the flowery language about equality, and rights, and whatnot? A thinking person might just think that there's a bit more to it than that.
When the country was founded, slavery was an integral part of it. To pretend otherwise is less than simplistic; it's stupid.
Yes, it is. Here's me totally ignoring that slavery was an integral part of it:
Our nation was not "literally built on racism". It was built on a set of principles that absolutely refuted the very concept of racism (all men are created equal?), but in which slavery existed as a matter of fact. That conflict was known at the time, and every day after that, and arguably lead directly to the eventual elimination of that slavery (via a pretty violent civil war). If our nation had actually been built on racism, we'd still have slavery and everyone would think it was great (well, except the slaves).
Oh wait! That's me, directly addressing the issue at hand and not ignoring it at all! Imagine that. I'm not "pretending otherwise". My entire point revolves directly around the contradiction of a nation in which those who founded it wanted to establish principles of liberty and equality, but lived in a society where those things currently did not exist, and how they got around that problem.
Do you really think the (slave owning) founders were all like "I'd sure like to set my ni@@ers free, but golly, I just can't"?
First off, what Samira said.
Secondly, you're presenting this in a simplistic manner. The whole problem was that they wanted a nation where "all men are created equal", but had slavery. The issue of slavery was absolutely brought up, but it was a non-starter for the Southern states. So yes, they were aware that many slaver owners were not going to be willing to just give up their slaves. So they did exactly what I mentioned above. They created a system based on an ideology that was innately in opposition to slavery and allowed history to take its course, hoping that someday that inherent contradiction would lead to the end of the practice.
And they were right.
The alternative would have resulted in the formation of two different nations, one in the south with slavery and one in the north without. It's an interesting bit of speculation as to what might have happened differently in history had they made that choice, but I suspect it would have been a bad choice in the long run. It's very likely, for example, the the much smaller USA might have lost the war of 1812 and been pulled back into the British empire. It's also likely (again ignoring other side variables), that the Louisiana purchase would have been sold to our hypothetical CSA (Confederate States of America for lack of a better label), which would have possibly resulted in everything West of the Mississippi being under control of a slave owning state (and thus inheriting that property). So even if the USA didn't lose in 1812, it would have found itself a relatively small hemmed in nation mostly in the Northeast, with the Ohio territory being as far "West" as it expanded, and dwarfed by a much larger CSA to the south.
Pure speculation, of course. My point is that the founders absolutely intended for slavery to be abolished (someday), they just knew it wasn't something they could do right then. Even if every Southern representative at the Continental Congress personally was in favor of abolishing it (which is probably not true), they could never have ratified a Constitution that did so within their respective states.
Insisting 2 and a half centuries later that this meant that the nation was "founded on racism" is an absurdly simplistic re-interpretation of history. It just doesn't match the facts. Again, if that was the case, they would have done away with a number of statements in the Constitution which contradicted the very concept of slavery in the first place, and thus prevented any future conflict over the issue from arising. They didn't. Thus, your assumption must be wrong. They at best "allowed" (tolerated) the institution, out of necessity. Edited, Jun 21st 2018 3:06pm by gbaji