Thursday, April 02, 2009

Shadow of Power

I didn't like this book written by Steve Martini. Left-wing professor Terry Scarborough’s latest book suggests a strong link between slavery and the Constitution. Stirring media frenzy, sales skyrocket and the author hints that a sequel will reveal even more dark secrets through a letter written by Thomas Jefferson. But on the day of his scheduled press conference, he is found murdered in his hotel room. The waiter at the hotel is considered the likely suspect because of his neo-nazi beliefs and connections. The defense lawyer, Paul Madriani, delves into the history of slavery and tries to find an alternative suspect.

If you don’t know that ideas relating to slavery are mentioned in the Constitution, then you are uneducated and need to read it. This is claimed throughout the story and even has a fictional interview with Leno who claims to be surprised. I find it absurd that so many people would be this ignorant. If you read the appropriate sections and think it endorses slavery, then you need to learn some history. The Constitution was written in 1787 and in Article 1 Section 9, it says that starting in the year 1808 Congress would be allowed to abolish the importation of new slaves. On March 2, 1807, Jefferson signed a law prohibiting the importation of slaves effective January 1, 1808.

Jefferson owned many slaves, but wrestled with the issue. Since slaves were considered property at the time and Jefferson had huge amounts of debt, he had to keep them until he could get out of debt, and he was never able to. He made sure his slaves were taught work skills and educated. In 1769 he proposed a bill to release all of the slaves in Virginia, but was unsuccessful. Through his will, he freed Sally Hemings (his wife’s half-sister) and their children, who were only 1/8th African. DNA evidence says her children were fathered by somebody in the Jefferson family, but Tom hasn’t been proven as the father. In the Declaration of Independence in 1776 Jefferson wrote “that all men are created equal.”

The founders understood that compromise was essential to create a stable government and they were educated enough to know which systems failed and which ideas had the potential for success. Slavery was an unfortunate and temporary compromise that had to be made in order to hold the Union together. The 3/5 person clause, was not intended to be an insult. Taxes and votes are based on population. The alternatives were for the slaves to not be counted at all or to be counted as a full person. Since they were people, it would have been terrible not to consider them at all. If they were fully counted, then it would have given the Southern states more power in the federal Congress and slavery probably would have persisted even longer.

Taking the slavery terms out of the Constitution would not be appropriate. The Constitution has had very few changes since the original document. It is a very important foundation which has allowed our country to be so successful, economically and politically. Leaving things in the Constitution allows us to remember our history and be reminded of what is successful and what mistakes were made and how far we have come. It was a progressive idea at the time to put ideas into our Constitution that would eventually abolish slavery. If you wanted to take out certain phrases, why wouldn’t you also remove the 13th Amendment, since it mentions slavery? The next step would be to completely destroy the Constitution and start over. Doing so would very likely destroy many of our freedoms and we would soon become just like any other failed government.

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