Senator Bernie Sanders came to Liberty University. Most of his speech was unexceptional and but one comment made me see red. I actually lost some if not most of my respect for the candidate with the same last name as mine. Sanders (the Senator not the blogger) said the US was founded on “racist principles”; that’s right.
Here is the article at Real Clear Politics and here is the quote:
And I would also say that as a nation, the truth is, that a nation in which many ways was created, and I’m sorry to have to say this, from way back, on racist principles, we have, a long way as a nation.
Now I concede Sanders (the Senator not the blogger) tried to be gracious about it BUT he is wrong. The Vermont senator is sorry or ought to be!
The very first document affecting this nation is the 1606 Charter of the Virginia Company. I can assure you nothing racist there unless someone is upset that there was a non-PC reason for the establishment of the Jamestown colony: The conversion of the Native people to Christianity. But this clause is there:
Alsoe wee doe, for us, our heires and successors, declare by theise presentes that all and everie the parsons being our subjects which shall dwell and inhabit within everie or anie of the saide severall Colonies and plantacions and everie of theire children which shall happen to be borne within the limitts and precincts of the said severall Colonies and plantacions shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunites within anie of our other dominions to all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding and borne within this our realme of Englande or anie other of our saide dominions. (Emphasis added by the blogger Sanders)
Nothing racist there; all “subjects which shall dwell and inhabit” have all the rights of Englishmen!
The first “constitution” in this future nation was the Mayflower Compact. Nothing racist there either but there is that pesky reference to God!
“Haueing vndertaken, for ye glorie of God, and aduancemente of ye christian ^faith and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia· doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God, and one of another, couenant, & combine our selues togeather into a ciuill body politick; for ye our better ordering, & preseruation & fur=therance of ye ends aforesaid; and by vertue hearof, to enacte, constitute, and frame shuch just & equall lawes, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete & conuenient for ye generall good of ye colonie…” (Emphasis added)
Gotta get rid of that reference to God’s glory – kids might think the nations was built on Judeo-Christian principles! And we can’t have that!
How about the Declaration of Independence? The slavery part was omitted at the request of the slaveholding colonies. But the rest of it has that nagging clause:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
Nothing racist in the Declaration of Independence. No principles like whites are superior or only white males can have rights or we are the master race! (There’s the pesky God thing again! One more thing to remove from the Federal Common Core curriculum!)
Let’s turn to the Constitution. Yes the Original Constitution did condone slavery (although it did not cite it by name) and regulated it. The 3/5 clause was and is insulting to all liberty-loving people but it was not racist per se:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
It does not say one group is superior to the other. Here is the no earlier than 1808 slave trade prohibition:
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.
Finally the clause that caused my beau ideal William Lloyd Garrison to burn a copy of the Constitution in 1854:
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
But these regulations of existing slavery are not the basic principles upon which the nation was founded. If you want racist principles, try this:
The General Government, as the common agent, passed laws to carry into effect these stipulations of the States. For many years these laws were executed. But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution. The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a law in conformity with her constitutional obligation; but the current of anti-slavery feeling has led her more recently to enact laws which render inoperative the remedies provided by her own law and by the laws of Congress. In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals; and the States of Ohio and Iowa have refused to surrender to justice fugitives charged with murder, and with inciting servile insurrection in the State of Virginia. Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.
These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.
That is from the Ordinance of Secession of South Carolina.
Senator Bernie Sanders has the burden of proof that this nation was built on racist principles. If he had said racism has been a part of the history of the US since early in colonial times, I would have to agree. But the principles upon which this nation was founded were the ones that the abolitionists and modern civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King used to call the nation to equal rights. It was not a new idea but rather a calling back – a repentance to basic principles. (If it was not a potential copyright violation for which permission must be cited I would cite the King “I Have a Dream” speech but I’ll never recognize that so-called right.)
Sanders owes the Liberty students and the nation a apology. I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.
Article written by: Elwood "Sandy" Sanders