A common argument conservatives often throw is that the Founding Fathers would approve of a behavior or political/societal practice. For example, they say the Founding Fathers would not approve of separation of religion and state, which I previously wrote about on a different post.
Aside from how dumb is such argument in any sense, the idea of justifying anything morally by saying someone 300 years ago would approve of it is pathetic.
Using the Founding Fathers argument, they should also believe in slavery or at least segregation. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Patrick Henry were all slave-owners.
Among American presidents, twelve of them owned slaves. Eight of them owned slaves while in office. George Washington is believed to own more than 1,500 slaves while in office. George Washington’s slaves were not freed even when he was passing Northwest Ordinance, which banned slave ownership in north of the Ohio river.
Jefferson fathered multiple slave children with the enslaved woman Sally Hemings, the likely half-sister of his late wife Martha Wayles Skelton.
Despite being a lifelong slave owner, Jefferson routinely condemned the institution of slavery, attempted to restrict its expansion, and advocated gradual emancipation. As President, he oversaw the abolition of the international slave trade.
Founding Fathers were not hypocrites, were they? I’m not sure what to call it but owning slaves while trying to free them seems a lot like hypocrisy to me.
Did Founding Fathers approve hypocrisy? Should we be hypocrites and justify it using the Founding Fathers argument? How is a moral practice justified because someone in 1801 was doing it?
James Polk became the Democratic nominee for president in 1844 partially because of his tolerance of slavery, in contrast to Van Buren. As president, he generally supported the rights of slave owners. His will provided for the freeing of his slaves after the death of his wife, though the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ended up freeing them long before her death in 1891.
The majority of the signers of the Declaration of Independence owned enslaved people. Many southerners who could be considered Founders were pro-slavery. Their children fought against northerners in the
James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution because of his pivotal role in the document’s drafting as well as its ratification. He is also a slave owner, believed to own more than 100 enslaved people.
Madison occasionally condemned the institution of slavery and opposed the international slave trade, but he also vehemently opposed any attempts to restrict its domestic expansion. Madison did not free his slaves during his lifetime or in his will.
When Madison was writing the Constitution, the Fathers did not give women right to vote. They didn’t consider all human beings equal. They did not believe a woman is suitable to work in politics.
I don’t blame them though. I think they should’ve done much much better but ethics were much different back then. It’s not ethical to restrict a woman or control here today, because we believe in a different ethical system from then, which is a good thing. We don’t get our ethics from 1800’s.
Slavery is just one example of many wrong things Founding Fathers or American presidents did, of course.
Let’s not even mention that those people were colonizers and they stole land and killed indigenous people of those lands brutally. Let’s not mention their behaviors toward each other, even white people, and other countries. We can even forget about the massacres and anything else.
If you get stuck in an island of cannibals, will eating a human be justified? If all your neighbors beat their wives or daughters, will you do it too? If all of your family members smoke crack, would you do drugs?
I don’t believe a sane person would do anything wrong or immoral just because others do it. Trying to justify a wrongdoing with “but he did it too” seems just stupid, doesn’t it? It’s childish.
Aside from that, why just get wrong things from the Founding Fathers? I previously have explained how Founding Fathers resisted the idea of involving religion in laws.
Thomas Jefferson was a deist. George Washington belonged to a church, but may or may not have been a believer, he was silent about it. Thomas Paine was a deist and an opponent of organized religion in general and Christianity in particular. Ben Franklin was a deist, but sympathetic towards Christians.
Will conservatives shut up about religion, Christianity, and the separation of Church and State because Founding Fathers did as well? I guess not. Maybe they got the hypocrisy from the slave-owning Fathers.