Civil Rights Class week 4

“Our system isn’t broken — it’s designed to do what it’s doing: produce measurable inequity.” [Gary Chambers, a candidate for the US Senate representing Louisiana, in his latest campaign video, “Scars and Bars,” in which he discusses the cruel and destructive legacy of the Confederacy and burns a Confederate flag]

https://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/curricula/documents-of-freedom

I am the American heartbreak—

The rock on which Freedom

Stumped it’s toe—

The great mistake

That Jamestown made

Long ago.

— Langston Hughes, “American Heartbreak: 1618

“Historical monuments are, among other things, an expression of power ~ an indication of who has the power to choose how history is remembered in public places,” Eric Foner.

The Convention made compromises about slavery. Southern states wanted slaves included in their population count, since it would mean more representation in the House of Representatives. Delegates agreed after a lengthy debate to let the Southern states count three-fifths, or three out of every five of the slaves. This is now known as the Three-Fifths Compromise. Delegates also agreed to outlaw the slave trade in 20 years.

Bill of Rights

  • 1st Amendment – Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition.
  • 2nd Amendment – Right for the people to keep and bear arms, as well as to maintain a militia.
  • 3rd Amendment – Protection from quartering of troops.
  • 4th Amendment – Protects against unwarranted searches and seizures of homes, properties, and bodies.
  • 5th Amendment – Due process, double jeopardy, self-incrimination, private property.
  • 6th Amendment – Trial by jury and other rights of the accused.
  • 7th Amendment – Civil trial by jury.
  • 8th Amendment – Prohibition of excessive bail, as well as cruel and unusual punishment.
  • 9th Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
  • 10thAmendment – Details of the powers of states and people.

sine qua non – essential thing (southern slavery)


Homework 1: Read the following article about the Constitution and slavery. Be sure that you understand the points it makes concerning whether the Constitution was a pro-slavery document.

Slavery and the Constitution reading notes:

Slaves imported into and held as property all of the American colonies for more than a century. 

Slavery persisted despite the Revolutionary War and ratification of the Constitution

Most of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution owned slaves

Number of slaves steadily grew through natural increase (birth) and slave imports from abroad.

Northern and southern sections of the new nation to the west fought over slavery,

Congress compromises on slavery until it could no longer be ignored.

Founders knew slavery

violated the “self-evident truth” of the Declaration

lied about the promise of equality in the Declaration of Independence

was immoral

had racial superiority theories sought to protect slavery and its expansion

1848, Senator John Calhoun argued that the natural rights language in the Declaration of Independence was “dangerous” and “erroneous,” and doubted that men were created equal.

Previously, Calhoun had asserted that, “The relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two [races], is, instead of an evil, a good—a positive good” (John C. Calhoun, “Slavery A Positive Good,” February 6, 1837).

Stephen Douglas, did not take a stance on whether slavery was good or bad and wanted to let the people decide whether or not to own slaves.  Douglas was challenging Abraham Lincoln in 1858 for a Senate seat from Illinois when he argued, “Our government can endure forever, divided into free and slave States as our fathers made it” (Stephen Douglas, Seventh Joint Debate at Alton, “Mr. Douglas’ Opening Speech,” October 15, 1858).

popular sovereignty – the idea that all authority ultimately resides in the people

In his “Corner Stone” speech of 1861, Alexander Stephens, the Vice-President of the Confederacy, argued that most of the Founding Fathers believed that slavery was a “violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically.”  However, it was an “evil they knew not well how to deal with.” They believed that it would “be evanescent and pass away” in time. Those ideas were fundamentally wrong, Stephens argued, because they “rested upon the assumption of the equality of the races” (Alexander Stephens, “Corner Stone Speech,” March 21, 1861).

John Adams wrote, “Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States…I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in …abhorrence.” (James Madison to Robert J. Evans, June 8, 1819)

The colonizers compromised with slavery because they sought to achieve their highest goal of a stronger Union of republican self-government. 

Some threatened to walk out if slavery was threatened. They kept the institution of slavery but built a path to slavery’s ultimate extinction.

Notes from the optional reading:

  • Slaves were imported into and held as property all of the American colonies for more 140 years
  • Slavery persisted despite the Revolutionary War and ratification of the Constitution
  • Most of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution owned slaves.
  • Slavery violated the “self-evident truth” of the Declaration and the promise of equality in the Declaration of Independence.
  • Founders believed that slavery was good for the inferior slave and the larger society.
  • The number of slaves steadily grew through natural increase (birth of enslaved babies0 and slave imports from abroad.
  • Congress continued to put off the controversy through a series of compromises
  • The African- Americans “had no rights which the. white man was bound to respect.” Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) decision.
  • No delegates to the Constitutional Convention defended the morality of slavery. The best argument that they could muster on behalf of slavery was protecting their own economic interest.

federalism~ a system of government in which entities such as states or provinces share power with a national government.

pluralist democracy~ the view that politics and decision-making are located mostly in the framework of government, but that many non-governmental groups use their resources to exert influence.

participatory democracy~a model of democracy in which citizens are provided power to make political decisions.

elite democracy~ The theory posits that a small minority, consisting of members of the economic elite and policy-planning networks, holds the most power—and that this power is independent of democratic elections.

Homework 2: Watch the video at the link below and answer these questions:

https://www.c-span.org/classroom/document/?8562

  1. Which state, according to Professor Lloyd, led the opposition to a ban on the slave trade?
  2. Why, according to Professor Lloyd, was the debate over the slave trade so important to both sides?
  3. In what way could the Slave Trade Compromise be considered a victory for the southern states? In what way could it be considered a victory for abolitionists?
  1. The South Carolinian rep said that the slave trade should not end but comprised with 1808.
  2. The debate of slavery was important to both sides because they understood that what ever happened to the “slave trade” would ultimately happen to slavery in the new country.
  3. The south got a delay to the end of the slave trade. The north got a set end to the slave trade.

Notes:

A compromise was negotiated wherein the slave trade would not be banned for twenty years, but could be taxed. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1 of the final Constitution read “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.” In March 1807, Congress passed an act to “prohibit the importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States…from any foreign kingdom, place, or country” that took effect January 1, 1808.

They created a committee with one person from each colony.

Madison wanted the slave trade to end immediately but proposed 1800 new millennium new birth of freedom.

The South Carolinian rep said 1808.

Notes from the weeks reading: (I missed class every day this week and I am not happy about that! My goal is to make at least 1 per week. Hanging out with the right students and the two professors is everything. )

Extensive Sale of Choice Slaves, New Orleans 1859, Girardey, C.E. Natchez Trace Collection, Broadside Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

The whitewashing of Black history has historically been used to justify the barbaric behavior that White people inflicted on Black people for centuries.

Slaves were imported into and held as property all of the American colonies for 246 years (1619 as the beginning until 1865 with the 13th Amendment)

The transatlantic slave trade was 1440-1888.

https://www.slavevoyages.org/voyage/database

Africans first arrived in America in the late 16th century not as slaves but as explorers together with Spanish and Portuguese explorers. One of the best known of these African “conquistadors” was Estevancio who traveled throughout the southeast from present day Florida to Texas.

Roughly 25% of all southerners owned slaves.

Middle Passage The middle leg of the triangular slave trade. Took 8-12 weeks to travel from West Africa to the Americas.

Slavery was an extremely diverse economic institution; one that extrapolated unpaid labor out of people in a variety of settings from small single crop farms and plantations to urban universities. This diversity is also reflected in their prices. Enslaved people understood they were treated as commodities.

Slavery persisted despite the Revolutionary War and ratification of the Constitution

Most of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution owned slaves.

Slavery violated the “self-evident truth” of the Declaration and the promise of equality in the Declaration of Independence.

Founders believed that slavery was good for the inferior slave and the larger society.

The number of slaves steadily grew through natural increase (birth of enslaved babies0 and slave imports from abroad.

Congress continued to put off the controversy through a series of compromises .

The African- Americans “had no rights which the. white man was bound to respect.” Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney in the Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) decision.

No delegates to the Constitutional Convention defended the morality of slavery. The best argument that they could muster on behalf of slavery was protecting their own economic interest.

Middle Passage The middle leg of the triangular slave trade. Took 8-12 weeks to travel from West Africa to the Americas.

African-Americans have been free in this country for less time than they were enslaved. Most Americans are two to three generations removed from slavery. However, former slaveholding families have built their legacies on the institution and generated wealth that African-Americans have not been privy to because enslaved labor was forced; segregation maintained wealth disparities; and overt and covert discrimination limited African-American recovery efforts.

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