Judge Napolitao posted the following comment and video on facebook today.
"Did you know: The Declaration of Independence was almost never signed because the Southern states demanded the right to keep slavery institutionalized. The slaves were almost freed in 1776."
Here are more interesting facts:
Few people today realize that many of our Founding Fathers and Revolutionary heroes were women and black men.
· Wentworth Cheswell, a black man, rode with Paul Revere that famous night in 1775.
· State constitutions protecting voting rights for blacks included those of Delaware (1776), Maryland (1776), New Hampshire (1784), and New York (1777). (Constitution signer Rufus King declared that in New York, “a citizen of color was entitled to all the privileges of a citizen. . . . [and] entitled to vote.”) Pennsylvania also extended such rights in her 1776 constitution, as did Massachusetts in her 1780 constitution.
· Between 1775 and 1807, the state constitution Of New Jersey permitted all persons worth over fifty pounds to vote. Free blacks and single women were technically enfranchised under this provision. In 1870 the 15th Amendment was passed that gave former slaves the right to vote. It was education and the ability to read that advanced voting rights proving the importance of a good education.
· Joseph Hayne Rainey, a black man, served in the House Of Representatives from 1870–1879. In fact we had several black representatives, and revolutionary heroes.
Article I Section 2 refers to slaves as "three fifths of all other Persons".
At first glance one can easily make some false conclusions unless they know the history which I share with you here. During the creation of the Constitution, Article I (Section 2) was not about slavery. Check it out: it is all about State's representation in the House of Representatives. Slavery only entered the discussion as a result of an attempted power grab. Each State wanted to make sure they had ample voting powers.
The non-slavery States were in a very heated discussion with the slave holding States. The latter insisted on a representation strictly according to the number of inhabitants, whether they were slaves or free persons. It was the non-slave holding States that wanted representation according to the number of free persons only (slaves not to be counted at all).
As one can see, the former version would have given the slave holding States a big advantage, and encouraged more slavery. By simply importing more slaves, a State could have easily increased their representation, and power in the House Of Representatives. The disagreement was so volatile that it nearly ended the creation of the Constitution of these United States.
After much discussion, a compromise was reached which was that three fifths of the slaves were counted as part of the number of free persons, as the basis of the appointment of Representatives. Interesting note: They purposely did not use the word slaves for reasons to be explained below. But it was well understood that "other persons" referred to the slave population.
Note: The word slavery was never used in the original Constitution for a reason. The framers did not want the Constitution to enforce or endorse slavery. In fact; George Mason, said: [Slavery is a] slow Poison, which is daily contaminating the Minds & Morals of our People. Every Gentleman here is born a petty Tyrant…. And in such an infernal School are to be educated our future Legislators & Rulers.
Article I Section 9: "The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person."
"James Madison, who is known as the architect of the Constitution said, "Twenty years will produce all the mischief that can be apprehended from the liberty to import slaves. So long a term will be more dishonorable to the American character than to say nothing about it in the Constitution"
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, in his book "The Familiar Exposition Of The American Constitution", writes "This clause as is manifest from its language, was designed solely to reserve to the Southern states, for a limited period, the right to import slaves. It is to the honor of America, that she should have set the first example on interdicting and abolishing the slave trade, in modern times." (pg 185).
He further writes (on page 186): "And it ought be considered as a great point gained, in favor of humanity, that a period of twenty years should enable Congress to terminate, in America (as Congress in fact has terminated the African slave trade) a traffic, which has so long and so loudly upbraided the morals and justice of modern nations." It is interesting to note that his book was written well before the Civil War.
The source of this information is from Joseph story's book, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States: Containing a Brief Commentary On Every Clause, Explaining the True Nature, Reasons, ... and General Readers. with an Appendix, Conta Joseph Story was Justice of the U..S. Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845. He was a child of the American Revolution, born three years after the Declaration of Independence.
Note: Visiting a black college had a profound effect on Ben Franklin. Several years later he joined an abolition Society. Franklin came to believe that slavery should be ended, and eventually freed his own two slaves.
The video below explains even more, and tells you what Frederick Douglas, who was a scholarly black man, and himself once a slave, had to say about the Constitution and slavery.
American history is not perfect. We had Founding Fathers who practiced slavery. But why do we no longer hear about those who opposed it, and participated in the "Underground Railroad" to free the slaves?