June 29, 2011

About Bachmann's "Founding Father's fought Slavery" statement

Marc Comtois

Apparently we're at the point in Campaign 2012 where we play the game of dissecting political statements for "gotcha moments." The pols have to be ready for the questions, so they should work to make sure they mitigate damage by reading up beforehand. That being said, of all the things to talk to a Presidential candidate about, why focus on interpretations of who exactly was a Founding Father? But, since it was broached....

The question, from ABC's George Stephanopoulos, and Bachmann's answer:

Stephanopoulos: [E]arlier this year you said that the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery. Now with respect Congresswoman, that’s just not true. Many of them including Jefferson and Washington were actually slave holders and slavery didn’t end until the Civil War....

Bachmann: Well if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that’s absolutely true. He was a very young boy when he was with his father serving essentially as his father’s secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery….

Stephanopoulos: He wasn’t one of the Founding Fathers – he was a president, he was a Secretary of State, he was a member of Congress, you’re right he did work to end slavery decades later. But so you are standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?

Bachmann: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved.

First of all, because "some" Founders had slaves doesn't mean that "some" didn't fight against slavery. This isn't an "either or" kinda thing. Besides, someone else offered an opinion on this (H/t)
Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the "thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated....

In 1784, three years before the Constitution - the United States then owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other, the Congress of the Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting slavery in that Territory; and four of the "thirty-nine" who afterward framed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on that question. Of these, Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the prohibition...[t]he other of the four - James M'Henry - voted against the prohibition, showing that, for some cause, he thought it improper to vote for it.

In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the only territory owned by the United States, the same question of prohibiting slavery in the territory again came before the Congress of the Confederation; and two more of the "thirty-nine" who afterward signed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They were William Blount and William Few; and they both voted for the prohibition...This time the prohibition became a law, being part of what is now well known as the Ordinance of '87....

In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the Ordinance of '87, including the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for this act was reported by one of the "thirty-nine," Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. It went through all its stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both branches without yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos. Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Paterson, George Clymer, Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James Madison.

Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Lincoln.

Is this a stretch? Perhaps, but no more, really, than the gymnastics that Stephanopoulos went through just to get to this point.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

This is what happens when very popular, possibly threatening-to-the-status-quo, candidates step into the ring without a plan. If Congresswoman Bachmann had a plan, she could answer every point by speaking to her plan. If the question has no relevance, all she'd have to do is say "George, I'm not going to let you or anyone in the media set the tone or agenda of my campaign... but here is my plan to fix the problems we're facing in America".

She's very nice. A good congresswoman, no doubt. But she has no plan!

Posted by: George at June 29, 2011 6:56 PM

She's a fine person, but she isn't ready for the job. In all of her answers she sounded like she was remembering a script, not speaking directly to the point from her own knowledge. For a contrast with someone who is much more ready for the big office, look at Chris Christie. He speaks directly, in plain English, because he knows what he is talking about. And that is the kind of person who should be elected President. The current occupant of the White House has proven that point quite conclusively, albeit as a negative example.

Posted by: BobN at June 29, 2011 7:28 PM

Modern politicians should simply steer clear of slavery, its past is too murky. Consider Jefferson, he owned slaves and wrote about "anatomic differences" that made them inferior in "Notes on Virginia". But all totaled up, I think he could be found on the side of erradicating slavery.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at June 29, 2011 8:03 PM

I prefer "framers of the Constitution." Founding Fathers has almost religious overtones to it, like Abraham and Moses. The Constitution isn't a holy document, it's a legal instrument.

Not a fan of Bachmann, but the semantics gotcha game is boring and inane. I guess it's what your average Joe American slob cares about nowadays regarding the reality TV celebrities known as politicians. The issues are just an abstraction.

Posted by: Dan at June 29, 2011 8:44 PM

Is it my imagination or is this a sexist thing with the media? I don't remember male candidates being grilled with gotcha history questions over that past two elections. First it was Palin and now Bachmann. I'm not a fan of either but it looks like sharks circling what they perceive to be easy targets in the water...women candidates.

Posted by: Max Diesel at June 29, 2011 10:00 PM

It's not sexist as much as it is a free fire zone for the media against conservative women.
I don't much care for Bachmann,but she is no dope.
Sheila Jackson Lee,a leftist Congresswoman from Houston,whode district includes NASA headquarters,seemed to think we had landed men on Mars and planted a flag.
The press didn't go nuts mocking her.
Locally,it's tortorous to hear Grace Diaz stumble through a statement in English.Everyone makes believe she is fluent.
She's as far left as you can get and she's a "person of color",so it's hands off.
That attitude doesn't really move things forward,as the "progressive"quacking ducks would have us believe.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 30, 2011 3:17 AM

Look, there is a central-unifying factor that drives the leftists who dominate the media to try to destroy conservative women like Gov. Palin and Rep. Bachman: abortion.

A sitting Governor who learns she is carrying a Down Syndrome baby (her fifth child, by the way) values that child's life over her own convenience and comfort? She must be destroyed!

A pro-life Congresswoman who has raised five of her own kids -- all now adults, one a doctor -- and had 23 foster kids? Spare no effort in ridiculing and diminishing her! (Remember, conservatives don't care about the kids!)

The Dem. party is so beholden to the gods of NARAL that they cannot abide anyone whose life and example threatens their orthodoxy in the way that these two women do.

Posted by: brassband at June 30, 2011 5:48 AM

"She's a fine person, but she isn't ready for the job."

Neither was the current president, but that didn't stop people from electing him.

"much more ready for the big office, look at Chris Christie."

I agree. I think the next Republican president will be either Christie, Daniels or Ryan. Unfortunately, it might take until 2016 for that to happen. Christie says he doesn't want the job right now.

"I don't remember male candidates being grilled with gotcha history questions over that past two elections."

Not just that, but when has anyone done that to Hillary? Of course they're not going to do that. They'd have no access to Bill anymore. Plus, that would just be sexist to go after her like that. "Hillary, who was the 23rd president of the United States? Oh you don't know? You must be dumb. What are you cooking for dinner tonight?"

Posted by: Patrick at June 30, 2011 9:11 AM

Actually, I'm seriously considering Pawlenty. His last few speeches have been real bullseyes, and he has the kind of quiet, confident competence that Coolidge had. Reagans are rare, but Pawlenty seems solid, and he could easily beat President Zero next year.

Posted by: BobN at June 30, 2011 9:44 AM

If Pawlenty is anything like Coolidge, I'm all for him. Probably my favorite president, and not just because he was from Mass. A great conservative.

Posted by: Patrick at June 30, 2011 10:47 AM

The tea party along with Rep. Bachman would love to rewrite history about the founding fathers. They would have us believe they were all fully evolved beings and that all our problems now can be attributed to our straying from the original sacred document of our country's founding.
Bachman's questioning by Fox's Chris Wallace was not an ambush but the opportunity to dismiss future examination of her comments that could be construed as flaky. It brings to mind a similar staged production during the Samuel Alito confirmation hearings when a Republican Senator asked a question about Alito's membership in a restricted social club that sent the supposed adult wife crying and running from the hearing room. That little display was conducted so that Alito would be spared legitimate questions from the Democratic Senators about his membership. In the same way Bachman can assert that she has already answered questions about her goofy statements.

Posted by: Phil at June 30, 2011 8:55 PM

I knew I could come here for a defense of Michele.

However, all of this is just mental gymnastics. The GOP candidate will be the one who is most like the current President. That would be a liberal who values health care for all, reproductive choice, etc.

Only one current candidate has those views - and that is who the establishment has already chosen. Enjoy your fun in the meantime, but get ready to vote for guy who might as well be a Democrat.

Posted by: Gordon at June 30, 2011 9:29 PM

I guess Phil is one of those people who believes the Constitution is a "living document".
It goes along with the leftist style of recognizing laws like they were in a cafeteria.
There is an amendment process-otherwise the Constitution is the basis of our laws.
Maybe Phil would be more at home with a bunch of Soviet type "committees".
Thankfully Alito is there to balance the Ginsburg/Breyer/Kagan crew.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 30, 2011 11:57 PM

Gordon --

So the GOP nominee will be "pro-choice?"

Can you identify the last Republican nominee who was "pro-choice?"

Posted by: brassband at July 1, 2011 6:40 AM

Phil-are you the same "Phil"who calls in to tak radio and screams hatred at the hosts like Travis Rowley and Matt Allen?
Travis and Matt can defend themselves-they sure don't need me-but I thought only right wing troglodytes listened to talk radio.

Posted by: joe bernstein at July 1, 2011 5:13 PM

The original Constitution, the one the the Founding Fathers worked on was a slave document through and through, check it out.

Posted by: CSMontgomery at November 30, 2011 7:01 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.