Fourth of July's ugly truth exposed: The Declaration of Independence is sexist, racist, prejudiced

  
Via:  badfish-hd-h-u  •  2 weeks ago  •  30 comments

Fourth of July's ugly truth exposed: The Declaration of Independence is sexist, racist, prejudiced

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


It is painful to write about the shortcomings of the Declaration of Independence. The historic document was officially approved by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 — a mere two days after the Lee Resolution formally declared the American colonies to be independent of the British Empire. Because the American colonists ultimately prevailed in their revolution against King George III, the document has been immortalized as one of the opening salvos in the ongoing fight for human freedom that continues to this very day. Without this seminal text, every social justice movement that has followed would never have come to pass.

Yet despite its overwhelmingly positive impact on history, the Declaration of Independence was also a product of its time — and bears some of the shortcomings of its era, including sexism, racism and prejudice against Native Americans. Here is a look at the events leading up to the creation of that document, as well as involved in its actual signing, which one must inspect for a more rounded look at this period in history:

1. It did not condemn slavery.

In the original list of grievances against King George III, future President Thomas Jefferson— who co-authored the document along with future President John Adams, as well as Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston and Richard Sherman — wrote that "he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither."

These words were cruelly ironic coming from Jefferson, who was an unrepentant racist and a slave owner — more on that in a moment. Nevertheless, even he acknowledged that slavery was an "abominable crime" and ultimately wished to see it purged from the new country. However, since southern support for the American Revolution was critical to its success, Jefferson ultimately scrapped that passage in order to keep the colonies united against their common enemy.

Yet the story is not quite as simple as Jefferson succumbing to political expedience; he had selfish and bigoted motives for supporting slavery that, in the end, outweighed his moral and logical reasons for opposing it. In 1782, only six years after drafting the Declaration of Independence, he offered these thoughts on the differences between whites and African-Americans:


Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made ... will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race. To these objections, which are political, may be added others, which are physical and moral. The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. ... They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold, than the whites. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid: and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

These views are not surprising coming from a man who, over the course of his life, enslaved more than 600 people.

2. It did not protect the rights of women.

Less than four months before the Declaration of Independence was ratified, Abigail Adams — the wife of future President John Adams and thus a future first lady — urged her husband to "Remember the Ladies" when contemplating the legal premises that should guide the nascent republic. Her argument deserves to be reprinted in full:


I long to hear that you have declared an independancy and by the way 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 favourable 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 perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity. Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.

Adams' response was, to say the least, tone deaf and unsympathetic. From patronizingly saying, "I cannot but laugh" at his wife's suggestion — to sounding like a proto-MRA in arguing that "we have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would completely subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat" — Adams' response would fit right in with the modern alt-right. (To be clear, Adams lived in 1776 and was a genuine hero with courage and principle, qualities which would never be found in a member of the alt-right.)



As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient -- that schools and Colledges were grown turbulent -- that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfull than all the rest were grown discontented. -- This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out.
Depend upon it, We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems. Altho they are in full Force, you know they are little more than Theory. We dare not exert our Power in its full Latitude. We are obliged to go fair, and softly, and in Practice you know We are the subjects. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat, I hope General Washington, and all our brave Heroes would fight. I am sure every good Politician would plot, as long as he would against Despotism, Empire, Monarchy, Aristocracy, Oligarchy, or Ochlocracy. -- A fine Story indeed. I begin to think the Ministry as deep as they are wicked. After stirring up Tories, Landjobbers, Trimmers, Bigots, Canadians, Indians, Negroes, Hanoverians, Hessians, Russians, Irish Roman Catholicks, Scotch Renegadoes, at last they have stimulated the to demand new Priviledges and threaten to rebell.

Needless to say, while some scholars have argued that the use of the term "men" instead of a gender neutral equivalent like "people" in phrases like "all men are created equal" was incidental, comments like those made by Adams suggest a more unfortunate explanation.

3. To the disadvantage of Native Americans, Jefferson replaced the phrase "property" with happiness when saying that human beings' basic rights include "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

In theory, it is a good thing for someone to say that our inalienable rights amount to more than the acquisition of material goods, such as land and currency. And to be fair, Jefferson was almost certainly inspired by the philosopher John Locke, who wrote the following in 1690:


The necessity of pursuing happiness [is] the foundation of liberty. As therefore the highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness; so the care of ourselves, that we mistake not imaginary for real happiness, is the necessary foundation of our liberty. The stronger ties we have to an unalterable pursuit of happiness in general, which is our greatest good, and which, as such, our desires always follow, the more are we free from any necessary determination of our will to any particular action, and from a necessary compliance with our desire, set upon any particular, and then appearing preferable good, till we have duly examined whether it has a tendency to, or be inconsistent with, our real happiness: and therefore, till we are as much informed upon this inquiry as the weight of the matter, and the nature of the case demands, we are, by the necessity of preferring and pursuing true happiness as our greatest good, obliged to suspend the satisfaction of our desires in particular cases.

That said, there is another interpretation of why "happiness" was replaced with "property" — one that has less to do with Enlightenment philosophy and more with ensuring that specific marginalized groups could not assert their rights. As historian Peter Garnsey wrote in his book "Thinking about Property: From Antiquity to the Age of Revolution," Jefferson's excision of the word "property" might have been partially driven by a desire to avoid legitimizing the institution of slavery — which would have certainly been a good reason — but he might have also been motivated by a less seemly sentiment.


But there were also the 'Indians' (Native Americans). American leaders could not stop settlers from taking over Indian land, nor did they want to. Jefferson writing in 1801 as President to the Governor of Virginia spoke of his dream that white farmers would 'cover the whole northern if not the southern continent, with a people speaking the same language, governed in similar forms, and by similar laws; nor can we contemplate with satisfaction either blot or mixture on that surface.' Jefferson himself together with associates had been acquiring Indian from the 1760s. As for Indians who did not cede their land peacefully, they could be forced to do so in a 'just war.' Warfare was in progress on the frontiers of Virginia just when Jefferson was preparing his draft for the Declaration of Independence — fomented, he charged, by the British. At the same time Jefferson and many other leading politicians did not claim that the Indians, though primitive peoples, had no natural rights, including the 'right of soil.' However, if there was a natural right to property, virtually all property held by descendants of European settlers would have been under suspicion. Jefferson was as inconsistent over the Indians as he was over slavery.

Considering that one of the Declaration's complaints against King George III was that he "has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions," this anti-Native American theory is depressingly plausible

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†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
1  seeder  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh    2 weeks ago

Who saw this article coming?

512

 
 
 
Don Overton
1.1  Don Overton  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1    2 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
1.2  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1    2 weeks ago

You sure do give "snowflakes" a lot of power. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
1.3  Thrawn 31  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @1    2 weeks ago

Easy, Trump supporters are fragile enough.

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
2  FLYNAVY1    2 weeks ago

Kiss my ass.... in the time that it was written, it was the most progressive document of it's time. 

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
2.1  seeder  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2    2 weeks ago

I couldn't agree more but these delusions are very common among the far left in this country.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @2.1    2 weeks ago

What exactly are these "delusions" ? 

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
2.1.2  FLYNAVY1  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @2.1    2 weeks ago

There are most definitely a bunch of delusional people out there, but limiting them to the far left is your mistake.

Just take this POS article down.  It's below even you.

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
2.1.3  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2.1.2    2 weeks ago
It's below even you.

Now that's the first thing you've written that I can't agree with.  I don't think there's any bottom for how low it can go. 

 
 
 
†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
2.1.4  seeder  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2.1.2    2 weeks ago

It's important to see how cra cra people are becoming

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
2.1.5  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @2.1    2 weeks ago
I couldn't agree more but these delusions are very common among the far left in this country.

Not nearly as common as the delusion of thinking that.  

 
 
 
Dulay
2.1.6  Dulay  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.1    2 weeks ago
What exactly are these "delusions" ?

I know that you didn't expect a cogent answer to your question. 

The purpose of the seed isn't to discuss it's content, it's posted just so the seeder can point and snicker. He has no intention of articulating WHY he is pointing and snickering, he merely wants to create a venue where he can do so.  

 
 
 
Dulay
2.1.7  Dulay  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2.1.2    2 weeks ago

It served his purpose...

 
 
 
Dulay
2.1.8  Dulay  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @2.1    one week ago
I couldn't agree more but these delusions are very common among the far left in this country.

Still waiting for that list of delusions BF.

BTFW, how about supporting your claim that the delusions you've refused to cite are 'very common among the far left'. 

Tick, tick, tick. 

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
2.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2    2 weeks ago

That is where I am at. This is presentism at its worst. We are now supposed to shit on the founders because they weren't as "woke" as people living 250 years in the future?

Ok yes, they had views that we find abhorrent today, but this world isn't the one they lived in. At the time, many of their views were out of this world radical, ideas we treat as a luxury but could have gotten them killed. They changed the world with their revolt. And for the better.

They wanted to retry an experiment that hadn't been done in over 2000 years. So yes, many of them were racist, many of them were sexist, and (pick your fault) but at the end oft he day they put their lives on the line for a concept that they truly believed in. One that has served us well up to this point.   

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.2.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Thrawn 31 @2.2    one week ago

I sort of agree with you, but there are some problems. 

Washington and Jefferson , in particular, and others of the founding fathers and founding generation knew that slavery was wrong. If you read any biographical material about them you will come across this. They knew that it was wrong and wished that something could be done about it, someday. 

Just not when freeing slaves would effect their bottom line. 

Jefferson always lived above his means and his financial affairs were never in good enough order for him to free his slaves.  Washington was more prosperous but feared that he would face financial ruin if he gave up his slaves. They knew it was wrong but were personally inadequate to the challenge of doing the right thing on this subject. 

But when it came to breaking with England, which could have possibly cost them their lives for treason against the crown, they were pretty brave. They didnt hold back like they held back on slavery.  The same goes for the other slaveholding founding fathers.  They generally knew slavery was immoral, but their material comfort meant more to them than the principle of giving freedom to Negroes. 

They knew that taxation without representation was immoral, and in that case they acted on their moral belief. 

So these people came up short. What weight does that carry when we consider how to remember these men? 

I think it is more than nothing. 

Not enough to discredit what they did in founding the nation, but it is more than nothing. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

The article writer is correct.  However, we have to make allowances for what happened in past eras , as people alive in 1776 were not able to see into the future and generally comported themselves according to the mores, philosophies, and knowledge of the day. 

As time goes by though, reverence for the "founding fathers" will fade, and that will be fitting whenever it happens. It's alright to move on from unquestioned reverence for the founding fathers and understand that most of them were flawed by 21st century standards. 

 
 
 
XXJefferson#51
3.1  XXJefferson#51  replied to  JohnRussell @3    2 weeks ago

Reverence for the founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, 1776, the constitution, etc. will never ever fade despite the wishes among some on the secular progressive left that it would be so.  

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
3.1.1  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  XXJefferson#51 @3.1    2 weeks ago
Reverence for the founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, 1776, the constitution, etc. will never ever fade despite the wishes among some on the secular progressive left that it would be so.  

Does it ever bother, if it even occurs to you, that even 243 years ago, these men of the Enlightenment, however flawed, who founded this country would have been shocked by your sort of religious belief.  Not that it didn't exist but I suspect not one of them shared it.  

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
3.1.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  XXJefferson#51 @3.1    2 weeks ago

As a secular leftist, [Deleted]

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
3.1.3  Thrawn 31  replied to  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו @3.1.1    2 weeks ago

Nah, he will just tell you they are a bunch of fuckin commies.

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
3.1.4  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  Thrawn 31 @3.1.3    2 weeks ago

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

Wouldn't surprise me in the least. 

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
4  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו    2 weeks ago

Can't you even give it rest on holiday? 

 
 
 
Split Personality
4.1  Split Personality  replied to  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו @4    2 weeks ago

Nope,

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
5  Mark in Wyoming    2 weeks ago

I am going to have to disagree with the author of the seeded article even though they may have a MA in history.

A lot is going to depend on how you view the DoI, as a whole , or as parts . Personally I see it as 3 parts.

 First part is a statement of beliefs and principles that would be the shining diamond that was so progressive for its time 

second part is a list of grievances, the way those principles and beliefs have been abridged and put in jeopardy and by whom, basically in laymans terns it what was done wrong and by whom.

third part is the conclusion , what the signers intend to do to remedy the grievances mentioned, in this case declare that they were independent and would thus form their own government along their lines of principles and beliefs , the end result of that was the Articles of Confederation and ultimately the US Constitution.

If you read that first part , right up to the point where it mentions the king , it can , and likely has been used in other places in the world , by ANY group, IT is not sexist , racist , or prejudiced . it is basically a preamble form stating what they believe , Just as the US Constitution has a preamble, the founders where fond of that type of writing it seems .

Second part , written as a list of grievances against one who had governance over them, this part I would say , was written by the men of that time and was sexist ,racist and prejudiced though the above principles were not.  It is a list that if any other group wished to take the DoI for their own uses would have to change that list of grievances to fit their purposes.

Third part, what they intended to do , be independent and form their own government , which some of the signers of this document also signed what ended up being the US Constitution which to this day is still the governing document of the nation. At least they were smart enough to leave ways to correct,and change the governing document that is based on the beliefs in the first part of the DoI, The changes to the governing document came slow too slowly for some today, and not without struggle or strife and is still today under scrutiny as to how it is applied, and thankfully is still changeable to rectify past prejudices and thinkings, we are not chained , to our predecessors prejudices , but that does not also mean we do not have our own for our own age.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
6  1stwarrior    2 weeks ago

And, let's not forget his "love" for the Native Americans -

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Little bit racist, ya think?

 
 
 
Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו
6.1  Atheist יוחנן בן אברהם אבינו  replied to  1stwarrior @6    2 weeks ago

You're not just finding this out, I trust. 

 
 
 
Split Personality
6.2  Split Personality  replied to  1stwarrior @6    2 weeks ago

You know we agree on this, always.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
7  Thrawn 31    2 weeks ago
The Declaration Of Independence Is Sexist, Racist, Prejudiced

Well of course it was. It was written by rich white men in 18 century America. How could it not be all those things? Let's try to have a little bit of perspective here. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
8  Sean Treacy    2 weeks ago

Straight to the  Democratic 2020 Platform.

 
 
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