400 years, and it's the same philosophy
I've been and am on the road, and one book I bought to read (no, not in Kindle, alas) is Lawrence Goldstone's Dark Bargain, whose subtitle -- "Slavery, Profits, and the Struggle for the Constitution" -- saves me the trouble of explaining what the book is about. Here's a passage on apportionment, an issue that is still very much alive today:
But Gouvernor Morris could not let slavery pass that easily. He moved to insert the word "free" before the word inhabitants. He then proceeded to launch into a diatribe... that still stands as perhaps the most ferocious condemnation of slavery in the nation's history:
He [Morriss] would never concur in upholding domestic slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of Heaven on the states where it prevailed. ... Upon what principle is it that slaves shall be computed in the represenation? Are they men? Then make them citizens and let them vote. Are they property? Why then is no other property included? The houses in this city [Philadelphia] are worth more than all the wretched slaves which cover the rice fields of South Carolina. ... He would add that Domestic slavery is the most prominent feature in the aristocratic countenance of the proposed Constitution. The vassalage of the poor has ever been the favorite offspring of Aristocracy. And What is the proposed compensation to the Northern States for the sacrifice of every principle of right, of every impulse of humanity. They are to bind themselves to march their militia for the defence of the S. States; for their defence of the very slaves of whom they complain [in case of slave rebellion]. ....
Morris's motion came to a vote. How would the delegates handle this call to principle, this test of their integrity as champions of democracy and the rights of man?
They voted Morris down. Ten states, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, refused to insert "free" before inhabitants. Only New Jersey voted "aye." After that vote, any pretense of an appeal to higher morality was done.
Reminds me of FISA. And for Morris read Feingold, eh?
Anyhow, several thoughts.
1. Surprise, writing the Constitution was sausage making at its most brutal and ugly. IIRC, Xenophon and I went a few rounds on this question, and we did agree that in writing the Constitution -- looking on the bright side -- the Framers, besides taking account of their own interests, also showed an exquisite sense of the ways to limit the uses of power and avoid tyranny. Which would be why our toxic leaders, of both parties, have been so anxious to throw off the tiresome shackles of Constitutional government and the rule of law today (see, again, FISA).
2. Yes, slavery and racism are at the heart of how the country was founded, constituted, and the effects reverberate and ramify and pollute, systematically, personally, and politically, up to the present day.
3. It's not at all clear how electing a President with dark skin is going to wash the country clean from this history -- except, perhaps, by giving a lot of people the excuse to say "problem solved" (Matthew 27:24).
4. The tendentious and instrumental charges of racism hurled by the OFB at both Clintons, the Clinton campaign, Clinton supporters, and me and many others personally have little to do with the "problem from hell" that Morris indicted. They do, however, have the effect, accidental or not, of silencing any discussion of the subject that isn't focused on electing our presumptive nominee, or doesn't emanate from an Obama Movement operative.
Anyhow, I'm sure that there is far better and far more historically situated analysis of slavery to be found than this post, but I thought the extract I quoted was a parable it would be useful to share.