The Promise of Equality

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2 Responses

  1. I think people deeply misunderstand that phrase “all men are created equal”, which needs to be read against the politics of the time. It DID NOT mean our present conception of political democracy extended to virtually all adults. Instead, it’s much better translated into modern terms as “there’s no Divine Right Of Kings, the king is just an ordinary man like everyone else”. And the anti-slavery activists did note the rhetorical problem even then.

  2. Ryan says:

    ” . . . labeled them three-fifths persons.” I’m surprised this trope still pops up. I thought everyone understood that the southern slave-owners were the ones advocating that slaves be counted as whole persons for purpose of representation in Congress (in order to increase southern political power), and the anti-slavery North wanted them counted as nothing for that purpose. Would Mr. Alexander have voted to give slave states more power in Congress (and the electoral college) if he were present at the drafting of the Constitution, just so he could have a nifty sound bite as to how he voted to treat slaves as whole persons? I’m assuming not, so I find it bizarre that he would slur the abolitionists of the day by insinuating the opposite of what they believed.

    Just to sum up: Mr. Alexander (like everyone else, I presume) would have voted to treat slaves as non-persons (certainly not as whole persons) for purposes of representation in Congress, so belittling the treating of them as 3/5 of a person seems hypocritical and ridiculous.