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Posted: 5/25/2001 9:05:11 AM EDT
You've probably heard this criticism of the USA's founding fathers: "They were slave owners and they permitted slavery in their new country, therefore their talk about liberty and rights was all meaningless". Dead white males, exploiting "people of color", blah, blah, blah. Certainly, it is true that slavery and its consequences have been a problem throughout American history. But have you ever wondered about the alternative? Suppose that Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and a few other key founders had said, "This new nation of ours is based on principles of liberty which are completely incompatible with slavery. Therefore, a ban on slavery is going to be a non-negotiable element of our constitution". What do you think the consequences would have been? It's an interesting mental exercise...
Link Posted: 5/25/2001 9:28:39 AM EDT
There are so many avenues to go with this one... My head is starting to hurt. For one thing I would think that racism would be a very minimal issue by now. The down side would be we might have someone in office like Jesse Jackson. Then the real down side would be that I wouldn't have any black rifles in my closet either...[:(]
Link Posted: 5/25/2001 12:02:47 PM EDT
The racial mix of the country today would certainly be different.
Link Posted: 5/25/2001 6:35:53 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/25/2001 6:55:31 PM EDT
Here's one scenario: The southern states, after some debate, tell Washington, Jefferson and company to take a hike. As a result... The "United" States of America is never born. The northern states form something similar, but the southern states go their own way. As a result... Both sides wind up weakened and the European powers try to manipulate them. As a result... During the Napoleonic wars, the South and Canada, allied with Britain, fight a war with the North, allied with France. As a result...? North America might have returned to British control.
Link Posted: 5/26/2001 12:28:41 AM EDT
Just like to point a few things out: 1. The dead white guys who founded this country did not invent slavery. It was the driving force of civilizations economy since recorded history. In all but the last few hundred years or so, every one of our ancestors at some point was enslaved by someone else. 2. Slavery was just beginning to be morally denounced in some places around the world at the time the U.S. was being founded. 3. For much of mankind's history most civilizations that employed slavery, actually used their own people as a source of slaves( or very close relations). 4. Slavery's been around a long time, fortunately mankind finally has evolved enough to understand that slavery is an evil concept, unfortunately it took thousands of years of mistreatment of man by ones fellow man. Amazingly this is a relatively new concept. Even more amazing is the fact that in a little over a hundred years it has been universally denounced. 5. Yes, the U.S.A. was not the first to denounce slavery, but it was not the last. I think our Founding Fathers did an incredible job considering what they started with and what they faced establishing this great nation of ours (try and start a country from scratch sometime, see how long it lasts). It has become fashionable recently to bash our heritage for what the Founding Fathers did'nt do instead of praising them for the incredible things they managed somehow to do. Sorry, but white people have'nt been the dominant civilzing force in the western world long enough to take all the blame for mankinds evil untowards mankind. I'm not denying we've done some shitty things(treatment of Native Americans/African Americans), but so has everybody else. God Bless the U.S.A, may it last a millenia. [%(] [pissed]
Link Posted: 5/27/2001 10:18:59 AM EDT
Notice how African Americans still want reparations for century old wrongs while African conutries, mainly Somalia, still practice slavery. I think it would have been very east to nip in the bud in 1783. They should have just changed slavery to 10 year terms. Not until the cotton gin was invented did slavery become a important economic tool for the nation.
Link Posted: 5/30/2001 9:58:11 AM EDT
I seem to recall from some of my history lessons that Jefferson did in fact try to outlaw slavery in his first drafts but for the sake of the "Union" had to conceed to States like Virginia (if memory serves) that needed slaves to run the tobacco plantations. They had the political clout to make the demand stick. As far as the likes Jesse Jackson being in the White House, I can't say that William Jefferson Clinton was a shining example of the best of the American political system. There is an interesting set of books on alternate history at your local bookstore. I can't recall the author's name but one of the books is "Guns of the South." The premise is what happens if a group of people from the future show up at the start of the Civil War with a boat load of M-16 type weapons, supply and train the Confederate Army. Another series is if an alien race [(:|)] comes to take over the Earth in 1941 just as WWII is getting started. Makes one think...
Link Posted: 5/31/2001 2:34:59 AM EDT
General John Logan, commander of 15th Illinois and the entire Army of the Tennessee during the Battle of Atlanta, and later canidate for Vice President under Blaine, firmly believed that the British blocked all of the founding father's attempts to write slavery out of our system during our formative years (1776-89). The reason, he argued, was that they understood that it could be used as a wedge issue to "balkanize" the colonies in the future. Thus, the seeds of radical abolitionism were British as was strong support for the Confederacy. While I understand that the war was "not about slavery," very radical pressure had come from the New England abolishonists which served to drown out any voices of reason. Subsequent to the Civil War, there was a move in congress to sue the British for war damages. While I'm a good ole' rebel, intellectually I have come to look at the Civil War as the third move the British made to maintain the colonies, supressing our revolution and the War of 1812 being the first two.
Link Posted: 5/31/2001 6:39:29 AM EDT
How would the British have been able to have such influence on American politics?
Link Posted: 5/31/2001 10:51:04 AM EDT
Money... People seem to forget how unbeleveably broke everyone in the colonies were by the end of the Revolution And we were doing the same thing, through most of the Revolution the English political philosopher Edmund Burke was a MP from Bristol- one of the few places in England where a person had to really run for office at the time- and he was making about 750-800 quid a year off of the states of New York and Massachusits.
Link Posted: 6/2/2001 6:56:10 AM EDT
Fair question, Matt. I don't have time to dig up out of print books, but I will try to summarize. Georgia, for example, did not give up its charter and become a British colony until 1752. Prior to that, slavery had been illegal in Georgia! After 1752, as a British colony, the British poured slaves into Georgia and it bacame a source of raw materials for the Empire. While manufacturing was a factor in Northern states, not so much in Georgia. (Part of the reason for the Revolution was the fight over who would be able to generate wealth through manufacturing. See Hamilton.) Anyway, in 1787, I think, at one of the conventions there was a motion not to allow slavery in any new state or territory and to abolish it across the board by 1800. It was defeated because the Southern states, with no roots in the wealth produced by manufacturing, voted it down. Also, some other folks mysteriously did not show up for the vote. Why would a southern state vote it down? We all know that only a very small percentage of voters in those states were slave holders. Only a relative handful of Southerners benefited from slavery. (Actually, it was a system which made it hard for a citizen-farmer to compete!) It had to do with what Admrlbrl said. Money. The oligarchy of the southern states, the people who were sending the representatives to the constitutional conventions were financially linked and beholdin' to the Brits, even as Americans. The British would still be their #1 customer for cotton, etc., even after the revolution. The British would still be economically dependent on the cheap raw materials produced by cheap slave labor. So they had an interest in prepetuating the system even after they had conceeded the revolution. Still, throughout all this, the British were the source of the Abolishinest movement and working hard to exploit the potential division between the manufacturing based north and the argarian based south. They did what they could to spark the fire, once started, did what they could to exploit it because they never really gave up. Prepetuating slavery in the nacient America benefited Britain in two ways: 1)They kept their source for cheap raw materials (by their nature, they were unable to envision things like the cotton gin and the McCormic reaper), and 2) Gave them a wedge issue for further destabilization. Hope this helps.
Originally Posted By Matt VDW: How would the British have been able to have such influence on American politics?
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