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  •  Correction #1 (0+ / 0-)

    It is not accurate that the Constitution is pro-slavery - let alone explicitly so.

    The Constitution does not - and was unable to - address the issue of slavery which was left to be resolved at another time.  (As it eventually was).

    There is no explicit support for the institution of slavery in the Constitution.

    There is at most a postponement of the issue to be dealt with by the newly established government.

    The one area commonly cited with regard to references to slavery is the 3/5ths language for apportionment of representation and taxes.  

    But this merely reflects an existing institution - not its endorsement - and it was based on then existing law for determining said apportionment.

    •  Sorry...1787 Constitution WAS pro-slavery (0+ / 0-)

      I am on my may out the door with the kids so don't have time to respond fully...BUT there is a mountain of scholarship by historians making the rather clear case that the 1787 Const. was a pro-slavery document.  There are numerous clauses where slavery was directly defended or protected

      ...threat against domestic insurrection

      ...3/5th clause ... which gave the South a huge boon in terms of proportional representation in Congress.  

      The question in Philadelphia in 1787 was not to have slavery or not have slavery but HOW should the new nation have slavery.  How ought slavery be incorporated into the new nation?  

      I think the historical record is pretty clear on that score.

      •  As a Constitutional Scholar (0+ / 0-)

        I can tell you that in no way was the Constitution explicitly pro-slavery.

        As for the threat against domestic insurrection - that has no direct bearing on the issue of slavery.

        As for the 3/5ths clause - as I stated - it was based on existing law to determine the difficult question of how to apportion TAXATION.

        It had nothing to do with the issue of slavery - other than the historical fact that at the time slavery existed and thus, in part, (Because "all other persons" does not only include slaves), provided a means to come up with a sloppy compromise on this issue.

        The committees of the Convention never considered this as related to slavery - NOT ONCE.  And it was simply decided to adapt an existing law proportioning the taxes - so as to solve that question.

        And no - the question in Philadelphia WAS NEVER "how to incorporate slavery" into the new nation.

        I challenge you to actually READ the debates in the Convention and find ONE SHRED OF DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE that could support this.

        The historical record is NOT clear on this at all - it actually is what I am basing my statements on.  What you are referring to are common myths and misperceptions that have been promulgated and spread in the 20th century.

        •  To aid your study (0+ / 0-)

          Here is a link to the records of the Convention in Philadelphia.

          If you actually read through them all - you will not find ONE SINGLE INSTANCE of the discussion of slavery being in any way considered as significant in the design of the Constitution.

          •  you misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

            just because they took it as a standing issue, does not mean that it was not significant.

            i seem to recall many arguments in the convention, the famous quote about allowing slaves to be counted towards apportionment would be akin to non slave holders getting to count their tables, chairs, and mules...

            •  No - I think you misunderstand (0+ / 0-)

              The issue of slavery was never directly taken up on the discussions of the Constitution - and more importantly - had nothing to do with the foundational draft, establishing its logic, by James Madison.

              As for recalling "many arguments" - how about quoting them.

              As for the "famous quote" about allowing slaves to be counted towards apportionment - how about citing this quote rather than assuming it was made.

              And no - it is not akin to that - not in that context.

              Furthermore you FALSELY assume the 3/5ths language is about "slaves."  

              It is not.  Because it is about "free persons" vs. OTHERS.  You falsely assume that the others are "slaves" - when in reality there were far more than just slaves in that category.  A non-free person was not a slave by necessity.  A "free person" was a legal concept independent of - and historically prior to - the institution of slavery.

              The language comes from a 1783 law that was proposed to apportion taxation under the Articles of Confederation.  It was generally considered to be the best solution to a problem that seemed otherwise without a solution - in terms of establishing a means to determine proportionate taxation by state.  

              If it could have been done by landed property - it would have - but there was no exact measure of the holdings, let alone value, of the property of the states.

              •  confederate money (0+ / 0-)


                "It is not.  Because it is about "free persons" vs. OTHERS. "

                who are these Others? Come on, be serious.

                •  Be serious? (0+ / 0-)

                  What do you mean - who are these "others"?

                  Do you not realize that far more than slaves were among the class of "non free" persons.

                  What do you believe was the legal status of an "indentured servant"?

                  •  of course i do (0+ / 0-)

                    but one does not preclude the other ("uncivilized" native American tribes counted too), and which was a larger category of people, and who were uniquely in bondage in a hereditary state in perpetuity, and the resolution of this pressing national matter would require a civil war?

                    interesting factoid: it was expressly illegal for free blacks to have white indentured servants as this upset "the commonsense" notions of race and hierarchy in 18th and 19th c. America.

                    Nell Irving Painter has a great anecdote about some white Germans who were indentured to a family of free blacks and the way that the white community rallied to "liberate" them.

    •  why so much (0+ / 0-)

      skin in the game of denying that the Constitution was pro-slavery?

      1. if they wanted to abolish slavery at the moment of ratification the framers could have at the convention...and didn't.

      2. the 3/5ths clause gave over-representation to a whole section of the country where slavery was the driving force of their economy, slaves were one of, if not, the most valuable capital item in the country.

      3. why extend the date of the slave trade some twenty years after the end of the revolutionary war? the war would have been a natural stopping point for the slave trade and perhaps even emancipation? the answer: as has been thoroughly documented, the planter class needed to replenish their labor supply.

      4. any analysis of this issue is incomplete without actually taking into account the attitudes of white elites and the white planter class about non-whites, and in particular, Africans. As I said above, check out any of Jefferson's writings on the matter. There is also a ton of research that clearly demonstrates the Constitution is a reflection of herrenvolk politics.

      5. the slave codes were established in many states around the turn of the 18th century. if the framers were so radical and anti-slavery, why did they not extend constitutional protections offered to whites to all americans, thus over turning laws that explicitly denied blacks and some indigenous people their rights, liberty, and freedom?

      6. again, as i said above, why the default to the lazy argument that the Constitution isn't pro-slavery because the word "slaves" does not appear in it? that always struck me as facile and juvenile because any reasonable person knows who "all other persons are."

      7. beard's book is still foundational. yes, there was debate about it in the decades that followed, but the central thesis still stands--even allowing for wood's critique--that the framers created a document that is a reflection of their particular class interests.

      8. now I must ask, do you believe that the Civil War was fought over slavery? Please say no as that will reveal a good amount of context for your attempt to intervene here....and will also be good fun.

      •  Why - becuase it simply is untrue (0+ / 0-)

        As for your points:

        1) It was neither pro nor anti slavery. Slavery had nothing to do with it.

        2) The 3/5th's clause's effects do not define its intent.  Furthermore it did not "over-represent" the South.  There was no uniform means of establishing representation.  In fact that was the system of proportioning taxes PRIOR TO the Constitution - which is why it was used.  It had nothing to do with slavery.

        3) Why extend the date - in your question you already overlook the real issue - that was a recognition that the issue of slavery needed to be dealt with at some point ... but that the Constitution was not the appropriate time and place (because then there would have been no Constitution and no Nation - you would have had either 3 independent nations or 13 - which is what  was being proposed (and what those who advocated the Constitution were explicitly trying to avoid)).

        4. There is plenty - too much - shoddy research in this area.  There is not a lot of quality material on this.

        5) Again - you keep conflating a claim (that I don't make) - that the Constitution was intended to be ANTI-slavery - with the claim that I do - that the Constitution had NOTHING TO DO WITH slavery.

        Why did it not abolish slavery?  Because it supported it?  No.  That is a logical fallacy.  Why didn't you stop Scott Olsen from being shot in the face last week? Because you wanted him to be?  It did not abolish slavery - because it was not intended to - and had nothing to do with the issue at all.

        6) My "lazy" argument is built on two decades of detailed scholarship in the area.

        7) Beard's book is not foundational.  It is fundamentally flawed.  He claims for Madison's tenth federalist positsion that Madison did not take - and was fundamentally opposed to.

        8) As for the Civil War - that is a simple answer.  No.  But it has nothing to do with revealing my context for attempts to intervene here.

        I am a Constitutional scholar who has spent two decades on these very issues.  To understand the logic of the Constitution - and what has gone wrong in practice.

        •  as a "scholar" (0+ / 0-)

          you have lost all credibility with this claim:

          "8) As for the Civil War - that is a simple answer.  No.  But it has nothing to do with revealing my context for attempts to intervene here."

          Just read the statements of secession from the individual states, and of course the VP of the confederacy, where they explicitly state that white supremacy and the protection of slavery are the core issues they are leaving the Union.

          And also, the document is pro-slavery when it protects the slave trade, and allows a condition that should be against the very tyranny that the framers stood against (funny too, they used the language of "slaves" and "slavery" to define the justness of their struggle against the Crown).

          Again, why the skin in the game?

          So those folks, Rogers Smith in particular and his work Civic Ideals are just wrong? What of the book Mind of a Master Class, just wrong?

          As a scholar please tell me how you are intervening in the literature, and against what consensus?

          We can argue nuance and details, but there are no serious folks who I am aware of in this day and age who do not see the Constitution as a compromise document that protected slavery and was written by folks who understood a proper democracy to be one that was racialized.

          •  Have I? (0+ / 0-)

            The Civil War issue does not impact my evaluations of the Revolutionary War.

            But as for the Civil War - it was a war fought over principles of sovereignty and governance.  It was also a war brought on by economic factors.  Incorporated within all of that - as one part - but not the major part - was the existence of slavery.

            But that does not make the Civil War a war over slavery.

            In fact slavery does not become directly associated with the war until Lincoln makes it so to garner support - in a Nation that generally DID NOT SUPPORT - for the war.

            Because in the BACKGROUND CONTEXT there was a struggle over slavery going on prior to the Civil War.

            But it was NOT going on in government.  That issue was - probably the core reason why it ended up with a Civil War - kept off the table by the party-dynamics and party interests of the day.

            In fact it is that aspect that we should perhaps be learning from history about - because it directly applies to today's issues.

            As for "no serious folks" - I don't know any serious and credible "folks" that view the Constitution as explicitly about slavery IN ANY way - let alone as a compromise document.

            And I certainly know of nothing that can support the last phrase about a "racialized democracy" being a general principle generally recognized.

            •  slavery was central to the civil war (0+ / 0-)

              we can fight over it as part of a bundle of issues, but the driving narrative was over wealth, sectionalism, and race.

              you can wrap that up in language about party failures and representation. but the driving issue, the state's rights rhetoric, and the very words of the parties involved on the slaveocracy's side clearly demonstrate that race and white supremacy were driving elements in the confederacy's seceding.

              it would make sense, no? human property was the number one capital good in the country. of course, the south would fight and die to protect it, the psychic wages of white racism and whiteness aside.

              •  Slavery was inseparable with the times (0+ / 0-)

                but it was not the cause (in both senses of the word) of teh war.  It neither caused the war - nor was it the cause that those who fought the war went to war to fight for.

                •  read (0+ / 0-)

                  what the folks "who are part of the times" actually said about slavery. give them the agency of their own words.

                  that is another lazy, straw man argument too that I love, "they were a product of their times" who supported a foul, destructive, evil system that killed millions of people for the enrichment of one class of people over another.

                  it is lazy because it ignores that people "of those times" saw slavery for what it was and advocated for its elimination.

                  the perpetuation of slavery was a choice by white elites for material, psychic, economic, and political reasons.

        •  also (0+ / 0-)

          "4. There is plenty - too much - shoddy research in this area.  There is not a lot of quality material on this."

          please, what shoddy research? that is a straw men, for when the research doesn't validate our priors, we diminish it!

          again, what did Jefferson in his own words write in Notes on the State of Virginia?

          •  You ask me? (0+ / 0-)

            You raised the claims to "plenty of research" - shouldn't you be providing it.

            I have started with the FOUNDATION of it - because nearly all the rest builds on its flawed premises - by citing Charles Beard's Economic Interpretation of the Constitution.

            As for what did Jefferson say in his own words in the Notes on the State of Virginia - let me ask you two questions:

            1) What did Jefferson say on the issue at the Constitutional Convention - if you want to claim that Jefferson's words elsewhere somehow prove something about that document?

            2) What did Jefferson say on the issue in the Declaration of Independence?

            •  i did (0+ / 0-)

              look above.

              Mills is wrong? Smith is wrong? Hahn is wrong? Roediger is wrong...his newest book on race and American history is very good btw, you should check it out. John Hope Franklin, one of the country's greatest historians who also wrote on this issue is just wrong?

              So we have historians, political scientists, philosophers, and legal studies types saying, "hmmmm there is something up here, a "democratic" document is produced in a moment when democracy and citizenship were racialized, gendered, and class based? Magic! maybe those understandings are somehow represented in the type of political document they crafted?"

              So profound. Why deny this?

              You go hard on Beard, but you miss the counter-argument that has been made by many folks smarter than you or I, that he may have been off in his narrow argument about causality because of his materialist orientation, but he was not wrong in the basic idea that the ideas about freedom and citizenship and democracy expressed by the framers and the elite class were a reflection of their material positions in society.

              You are constructing a straw man in Beard in order to try to rebut a very basic premise: the Constitution is a practical document, however imperfect that was radical for its time but that reflected the interests of the people who made it.

              This should not be so unsettling for a "scholar".

              Are you part of the fetishize the "founders" club? They were just men, smart, but just people, not gods.

              •  The idea that democracy was racialized (0+ / 0-)

                is - in my view - scholarly nonsense.  But then again - probably 3/5ths or more of scholarly literature these days is nonsense.

                We will have to leave it at that.

                •  so folks who are more (0+ / 0-)

                  highly regarded than you, are tenured, have won book awards, and really know this literature are playing with "nonsense?" Disagree based on research, empirical findings, theoretical rigor, and hard work, don't reject claims just because you don't like them.

                  but at this point you are really showing your butt!

                  I am right, there is something deeper in this game for you.

                  Check out some of Goldberg's work. And come on, you have a country that has to explicitly write in black folks with the equal protection clause, then fight Jim and Jane Crow, and finally pass the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts and you say American democracy was/is not racialized.

                  You sound like a narrowly (and poorly trained) legal studies type, given that "scholarly bent" check out the book White by Law which looks at how immigration law and the notion of white group membership was litigated and changed over time. America has historically, in its law, defined citizenship as being limited and bounded by whiteness. Non whites in fact, were not even allowed to become naturalized citizens for most of this country's history up to the 20th century.

                  •  What do you know about me (0+ / 0-)

                    and my scholarly work?

                    What - of all things - does TENURE have to do with it!?  Do you know the politics of tenure?

                    What does a book award have to do with it?

                    I have not placed my work along side of those you refer to.

                    As for narrowly and poorly trained - My doctorate work is in Law from University College London and in Politics from the University of Florida.  I have an LL.M. in Legal History and Jurisprudence from University College London.  An M.A. in Legal History and Jurisprudence (with distinction) from University College London.  An M.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida.  B.A.s in Philosophy, History and Political Science from the University of Florida.  And a B.S. in Microbiology from Auburn University.  I have a Law Teacher's Certificate from University College London.  And I have taught both undergraduate and graduate level courses in law and political science/theory at University College London and the University of Florida.

                    You want to put your C.V. to the test?

                    •  yeah, i looked you up (0+ / 0-)

                      and yes, book awards have a good amount to do with it. they are an acknowledgement of one's work, their relationship to the discipline and respect by peers.

                      if i have to take your view that democracy in america is "not racialized" versus Roger Smith's it is an easy choice.

                      if i have to take your claim that the civil war was not primarily about white supremacy and slavery versus morgan  it is an easy choice.

                      in fairness i would take them over most, myself certainly included, any day. i am aware of this fact and difference, you appear not too.

                      your arguments here are dishonest and selective. we call that piss poor scholarship. this is why i keep asking you what skin do you have in this game, why deny the obvious? your claims can intimidate and bully neophytes and lay people, but for folks who know a little more than the average bear, they are easily exposed.

                      i do hope that you do not bring such selective insights into the seminar room, as that would be unfortunate for your students.

                      i didn't announce myself as a "scholar" you did. thus, you have to carry that burden.

                      trust me, i would put my vitae against yours any day. this isn't a pissing contest, until you made it one.

                      your claims are thin, moreover, please respond to the cites i listed above please, the georgia articles of secession, loewen and morgan, etc.

                      •  Well you can believe what you want (0+ / 0-)

                        as regards to my arguments being "dishonest" ... and all the rest.

                        I would have to disagree with many of your criticisms.

                        And I didn't make it a pissing contest.  You were the one demanding "qualifications" to make statements - and then made assumptions about my education.

                        I'd suggest you are taking this too personally - and spend most of your time on ad hominems.

                        But I think we have gone through this enough.

                        •  this is fun (0+ / 0-)

                          you have never answered any of my questions or interventions. i didn't make assumptions about your education, i wondered who trained you and how then could be making the claims that you were, given how poorly evidenced they are.

                          this is personal because it is about the truth. when you misrepresent something as important as the constitution to folks you are trusted with teaching, it is personal and important. when we minimize the role of racial inequality in this country's history and government and society it is personal.

                          much of the mess in this country now is caused by a failing educational system and a process wherein all opinions are elevated to fact, however specious. we have fools running for President who believe that America was founded as a Christian Nation because some hack historian told them so. This is very worrisome.

                          your arguments are dishonest and intentionally overlook any of the strong counter arguments or evidence to the contrary.

                          they are also poorly structured and reasoned--esp. in regards to the 3/5th clause and America as a racialized democracy.

                          If you are a scholar as you pretend to be--note, never announce yourself as a scholar of anything, that is tacky and invites attack because most folks who are the real deal don't go around announcing it--go do some more reading and track down some of the books I suggested.

                          I can give you an exam list if you like. It will be like doing your comps again.

                          •  As I said - this is going nowhere. (0+ / 0-)

                            Your arguments, actually, are unsound - and you simply ignore or read into my points what you want to be there.

                            Let's just agree to disagree on this.  I am not going to post any further on this tangent.

                          •  my arguments are fundamentally sound, easy one (0+ / 0-)

                            simple question, one more softball for you,

                            was Jim Crow an example of racialized democracy?

                            easy one, even easier than was slavery a primary cause of the Civil War...

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