Levin: Stephanopoulos Is Foolish in Lecturing Bachmann - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Levin: Stephanopoulos Is Foolish in Lecturing Bachmann


You’d think liberals would learn.

Of course not.

George Stephanopoulos made the mistake of going after Michele Bachmann on history — and promptly proceeded to get his history foolishly wrong. Said George:

For example earlier 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.

Actually, George, it is true.

And before we get to Levin’s views, allow me.

In 1785, James Madison (as noted by his biographer, Ralph Ketcham in James Madison) took to the floor of the Virginia Assembly, where he was a delegate, and

spoke…favoring a bill Jefferson had proposed for the gradual abolition of slavery (it was rejected), and helped defeat a bill designed to outlaw the manumission of individual slaves. Of this effort a French observer wrote that Madison, “a young man (who)….astonishes…by his eloquence, his wisdom, and his genius, has had the humanity and courage (for such a proposition requires no small share of courage) to propose a general emancipation of the slaves.”

Madison was not alone in taking action on the subject. There was another Founding Father, along with Madison a co-author of The Federalist Papers. That would be Alexander Hamilton.

In Alexander Hamilton: A Life, biographer Willard Sterne Randall notes that this Founding Father helped “to found…the Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves in New York.” Randall on goes to say that:

….never forgetting the slave markets of his St. Croix childhood, Hamilton became a prime mover in the early abolitionist group. He pressured the (New York) state legislature and helped to raise money to buy and free slaves. The society’s founders…elected Hamilton chairman to draw up recommendations for “a line of conduct” for any “members who still possessed slaves.” He also established a registry for manumitted slaves, listing their names and ages, “to detect attempts to deprive such manumitted persons of their liberty.” 

There’s more with Hamilton, who also demanded (writing and signing a 1786 petition on the subject) the legislature ban the importation of slaves, calling slavery ” a commerce so repugnant to humanity.”

There is a difference between opposing something and being unable to change the practice in the day — and doing nothing. But it is just flatly false to say, as Stephanopoulos says, that the Founding Fathers did not work to end slavery. The historical record, if one looks, is crystal clear. Madison did. Hamilton did. Jefferson did. They did not succeed, they were personally flawed, some owning slaves themselves. (Wasn’t it George who wrote a book on a flawed president he knew called All Too Human?) But these Founding Fathers started the United States of America down the right historical path, personally “working” to end slavery. 

There was a reason for the Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution. That reason: there were delegates to the Constitutional Convention (and they would be called Founding Fathers ) who supported abolition — as well as those who opposed it. Hence — the compromise. Which was not about declaring a black man three-fifths of a person as, for example, Al Gore and many liberals erroneously say. (Where was George then?) It was about reducing the power of slavery as an institution in the new United States Congress. If, as slave owners insisted, slaves were property — then the obvious: they should not be counted as whole persons, which would increase the proportional power of the slave states in the House of Representatives, where representation was based on population size. The slave owners wanted it both ways — to treat slaves as property but count them as persons, effectively increasing the slave owning power in Congress. The abolitionist delegates said no — hence the compromise.

So Levin is quite correct here — adding another Founding Father to this list: George Mason of Virginia.

Mark Levin caught you out, George, and his details are here.

But Michele Bachmann was right. There were Founding Fathers who worked to end slavery.

Is challenging Michele Bachmann on fundamental history and getting it wrong embarrassing for somebody in the liberal media who criticizes others on the subject? Yes. Will George be concerned enough to retract and correct the record?

Uh-huh. Sure.

Which is short hand for just why millions of Americans roll their eyes at liberals. And watch Fox.

And listen to Levin.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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