Democrats and History

A famous American wrote (and spoke) these words in what basically amounts to a free speech case.

Any man has a right to publish his opinions on that subject [slavery] whenever he pleases. It is a subject of national concern, and may at all times be freely discussed. Mr. Gruber did quote the language of our great act of national independence, and insisted on the principles contained in that venerated instrument. He did rebuke those masters, who, in the exercise of power, are deaf to the calls of humanity; and he warned them of the evils they might bring upon themselves. He did speak with abhorrence of those reptiles, who live by trading in human flesh, and enrich themselves by tearing the husband from the wife—the infant from the bosom of the mother: and this I am instructed was the head and front of his offending. Shall I content myself with saying he had a right to say this? That there is no law to punish him? So far is he from being the object of punishment in any form of proceeding, that we are prepared to maintain the same principles, and to use, if necessary, the same language here in the temple of justice, and in the presence of those who are the ministers of the law. A hard necessity, indeed, compels us to endure the evil of slavery for a time. It was imposed upon us by another nation, while we were yet in a state of colonial vassalage. It cannot be easily, or suddenly removed. Yet while it continues it is a blot on our national character, and every real lover of freedom confidently hopes that it will be effectually, though it must be gradually, wiped away; and earnestly looks for the means, by which this necessary object may be best attained. And until it shall be accomplished: until the time shall come when we can point without a blush, to the language held in the Declaration of Independence, every friend of humanity will seek to lighten the galling chain of slavery, and better, to the utmost of his power, the wretched condition of the slave.

It sounds really good, doesn’t it? Many have assumed that it is Lincoln, but it was said when Lincoln was 9 years old. It was said in defense of a man, a Methodist minister, accuses of fomenting a slave revolt, in Baltimore. There was a statue of the man who wrote it also in Baltimore. It was removed the other night, by the government. So who this guy?

He is Roger Taney, the very man whose decision on Dred Scott did as much as any single man to propel the (not so) United States into the Civil War. In fact, that decision with very little extension would have reinstated slavery in the whole country, with very few options for its removal. “The Dred Scott decision held that “[…]”the negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect,”

Steven Hayward says this:

[…]which by implication legalized slavery throughout the entire U.S. and prohibited Congress henceforth from stopping its spread in the territories. All that was needed, as Lincoln pointed out, was one more case extending the principle Taney laid out to make slavery legal throughout the North.” How does a man get from one to the other?”

Funny how the Confederate battle flag, and now statues, didn’t start to come down until Republicans became ascendant in southern states. Democrats who had a monopoly grip on the South for decades had lots of time to take these steps, but didn’t. You’d almost think they were opportunists.

Indeed, one would, but it is sort of a side issue, nothing about that we didn’t already know.

Which leads to the next question: what the hell happened to Taney? That’s a long story, but can be summarized briefly by the proposition that Democrats ceased to believe that slavery was a national sin—indeed they came to believe it was a positive good. (See Calhoun, Alexander Stephens, George Fitzhugh, etc.), and the first version of identity politics was born. In other words, Democrats aren’t that much different today than they were in the 1850s.

That is, unfortunately true. Democrats, the party of slavery, and plantation owners, and their sycophants, since sometime before the Mexican War, which they supported to attempt to gain more slave states. Quite the legacy, isn’t it.

By the way, Rev. Gruber, the Methodist Minister, won.


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7 Responses to Democrats and History

  1. Indeed generally speaking the GOP, at least in Washington, D.C. could care less about the Confederate Flag, as certainly the Dem’s too. Which btw was called the Confederate States of America! History is history! And I am surely no “Confederate”, but I love the American South! The general culture, the Southern Bible Belt, and the food certainly! Btw too, I love Charleston, S.C., some of the oldest churches are there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Charleston is indeed a lovely city. I’ve only been there once, which I should remedy, because it was quite wonderful.


  2. the unit says:

    How did Taney know who introduced America to slavery? Wiki wasn’t available back then. What if he’d explained that “the devil made me do it”? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      Well, to be serious (I know you weren’t, very) slavery was here when we were British, and it wasn’t only blacks, either. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        Ain’t we all had the straw boss one time or ‘nother? 🙂


      • the unit says:

        I haven’t looked up the dates of these happenings. How would the British explain the paradoxical situation of slavery in her American colonies yet it was banned in England? Maybe it wasn’t at the time as I said I didn’t look all that up. Then I remembered the article of a few days ago you gave us containing a writing by Ben Domenech. Yep, the Brits could say it wasn’t them. As Ben said what we were then “It was a civilization carved by the rejected refuse of the old world, by the religious freaks, criminals, bastards, and orphans.” We behaved uncouthly. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          The Brits finally abolished completely in 1819 or thereabouts if I recall. It got delayed some by the Napoleonic wars, but was accepted (more or less, although rarely in the UK itself) until then. The Caribbean sugar producers were as opposed as our plantation owners, for similar reasons.

          Yeah, well, we still do, according to some Brits! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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