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The American Heritage of a Few deciding for the Others

July 31, 2016

Not long after [white man] Thomas Jefferson wrote the “Declaration of Independence,” a free black [man] wrote Jefferson asking if the “all men are created equal”phrase applied to blacks [that is, to black men, to black women, and to black children]. Jefferson replied that slavery [of black children, of black women, and of black men] embarrassed him but … The [white men] Quakers spoke out against slavery during the colonial period but … [The white men] Anglicans worked among the [black men and women and children] slaves and attempted to Christianize them [as if they were white men]. [The white men of] Mainline Protestantism tried early on, but… In 1784, the [white men] Methodists voted to expel [white men] members who bought and sold [black men, women, and children] slaves but… [White men] Methodists found such statements unenforceable and they withdrew them. [White men of] Kentucky’s Elkhorn Baptist Association tried to draft a resolution against [African person] slavery in 1791 but… In 1818, [white man] George Bourne, a fiery anti-slavery preacher, insisted on [African person] slavery’s cessation. Bourne’s Presbytery [of whites] felt his attitudes degraded the minister’s office and they [the white men] removed him. Bourne appealed to the General Assembly [of white men]. Pro-slavery men [white men] loaded the [all white, all male] Assembly and saw Bourne expelled…. In 1844, the Georgia Baptist Convention appointed [white man] James Reeves, a [black man, black woman, black children] slave owner, as missionary to the [non-white, non-Christian] Cherokee Indians. When his petition for approval came to the General Convention [of white men] it was rejected. In 1845, southern [white men] Baptists withdrew to form the [white man] Southern Baptist Convention in Augusta, Georgia…. When [white man] John C. Calhoun gave an address in [the white man] Congress in support of the Compromise of 1850, he said American religious [white men] bonds were broken and he pleaded that the [white man] nation’s political bonds remain united. The fact that [white man] churches could not get along indicated no one else [of the white men] could either. Church division [among white men] over slavery [of black children, black women, and black men] predicted the Civil War.

In 1776, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, who was one of the men writing the Constitution, to ask him “in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

But even though John Adams loved his wife very much and asked her for advice all the time,….

Like the women, Jews also saw in the idea of the rights of man the possibility of getting equal rights for themselves. Haym (Chaim) Solomon, in 1784, asserted that, “I am a Jew; it is my own nation; I do not despair that we shall obtain every other privilege that we aspire to enjoy along with our fellow-citizens.” Some of the Constitution writers, like Thomas Jefferson, agreed with Solomon that “”neither Pagan nor Mohammedan nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.” (This is Jefferson quoting John Locke). Washington also assured the Jews in 1790 that, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship… for happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protecture, should demean themselves as good citizens.” The Jews did get some protections: the Bill of Rights says that the government can not make any law about religion, and from the beginning non-Christians could vote in the United States. But…

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