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Why did America’s Founders say … “all men are created equal?” (Part 1 of 2)

Why did America’s Founders say … “all men are created equal?” (Part 1 of 2)

As a civil rights activist my entire life, I have long supported the of removing the statues, symbols and names that honor the Confederacy and those infamous for racial intolerance – especially those engaged in the remnants of institutional and de facto racism that we find today.  This does not mean, however, that I favor vigilante destruction of these misplaced monuments, but instead that they be moved legally to more appropriate sites — such as museums – where they can be part of an accurate description of their place in history – infamy, if it be that.

It is important to remember that most of those Confederate symbols were NOT some post-Civil War olive branch.  They were not part of President Lincoln’s “charity to all and malice toward none” Reconstruction policy.  The more charitable post-War treatment of the leaders of the Confederacy came after Lincoln’s assassination, when southern Democrat Andrew Johnson assumed the presidency.  Johnson’s favoritism toward the leaders of the Confederacy enraged those in Congress known as the Radical Republicans – and the excessive leniency of Johnson only ended with the election of Republican President Grant.

But many of the honors – statues, flags and namings – came after Democrats took over the south by force-of-arms in the late 1800s – literally, a mini-civil war against Negroes and the Constitution waged by the Democratic Party and their paramilitary enforcers – such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Red Shirts, the White Citizens Councils and others — for another 100 years.

Other racist monuments arose in the early 1900s during the shameful racist administration of Democrat President Woodrow Wilson – a southern white supremacist with a glowing passion for the Confederacy and an open affection for the Ku Klux Klan.  It probably stems from his early years as a child in a Virginia slave-owning family.

And yet another round of Confederate honorings came in the 1960s when the leaders of the solid Democrat southland rose in defiance of integration – especially school desegregation. Under the Southern Manifesto, many of the most prominent and powerful Democrat leaders of the time showed their defiance by adding the Confederate battle flags to a number of southern state standards – where they remained until Republican Governors and Republican legislature began removing them.

But what about folks like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and all the other American icons that the left has put in the crosshairs of their radical campaign against the entire American culture?  The left accuses President Trump of engaging in a culture war.  In reality, it is Republicans, in general, and conservatives, specifically, who rise in defense of a culture based on personal freedom, limited government and equality – a culture upon which THE LEFT has declared war in favor of autocratic principles – including socialism.

Every American should be thankful for the wisdom and goodness of our Founders – and that includes even those who may not — at this moment – enjoy the full share of American Exceptionalism and have full access to the nation’s personal opportunity society.  Even those who are still oppressed in our one-party- authoritarian Democrat-controlled major cities have greater opportunity and freedom than most people of the world.  But much more needs to be done to level the playing field.  And thanks to the Founders, the pendulum of history has moved – and is still moving — in favor of the disadvantaged. For sure, the job of rooting out de facto racism WHERE IT EXISTS is an incomplete task.

We rightfully honor our Founders for the eminent good they did – despite their slave ownership at the time.  They crafted a nation that placed unprecedented vast power in the hands of the people – something that was not seen in the world in which they existed – a world of kings, potentates, czars, tsars and tribal leaders.  Virtually every nation – and every people —  on earth at the time were ruled over by authoritarians.  Our Founders were raised, bred and educated in that world – and yet they crafted for America a nation where “we the people” have maximum influence over matters of state – if we choose to protect it and exercise it.

No sooner than they enacted the Constitution to articulate – not guarantee – the inalienable rights of the people, they used their own enshrined amendment process to craft 10 new tweaks to the Constitution to more clearly define our inalienable rights – the Bill of Rights.

The ability to amend the Constitution was incredibly important regarding their thinking on slavery.  It was not an institution that most of the Founders accepted with comfort,  Even as slave owners, they longed for the day that some future generation would do what they could not, given the zeitgeist of the times – end slavery.  Washington wrote (emphasis added):

“The unfortunate condition of the persons, whose labour in part I employed, has been the only unavoidable subject of regret. To make the Adults among them as easy & as comfortable in their circumstances as their actual state of ignorance & improvidence would admit; & to lay a foundation to prepare the rising generation for a destiny different from that in which they were born; afforded some satisfaction to my mind, & could not I hoped be displeasing to the justice of the Creator.”

Washington expressed his frustration with the institution of slavery on a number of occasions.  In communicating with a cousin, he said that he “longed every day … more and more to get clear of the ownership of slaves.”

Washington’s last will and testament emancipated a large number of slaves under his authority.  He was legally prevented from freeing those slaves he managed on his plantation, but to which he did not personally hold title.  They were divided among the grandchildren.  A portion of the slaves were left with his widow Martha – to be freed upon her passing.  She freed them rather quickly – fearing that one among them may take her life to gain freedom.

Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words in the very Declaration of Independence – that ALL men (as in mankind) are created equal with equal human rights – was an extraordinary statement of the times.  It was a shot across the bow of those who supported slavery and the inferiority of Negroes – enslaved or free.

Jefferson once described his frustration on the issue of slavery in his day by saying it is like holding “a wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go.”   But even as a slaveholder by pragmatic necessity, he – like Washington – had the heart of an abolitionist.

Jefferson often opined against slavery, believing it would lead to the destruction of the Republic – and it almost did.  John Adams and John Quincy Adams were outspoken abolitionists and never owned slaves.  Most of the Founders expressed either opposition or at least discomfort with slavery

The second genius of the Founders was their ability to foresee the need for we the people to lead this new union of states to be a “more perfect union.”  They gave the people the power to even change the very Constitution they so carefully crafted.  Men like Washington and Jefferson not only laid the foundation and the moral case for emancipation, they were — In that sense — abolitionists in heart and mind.

They were exceptional men of the day with extraordinary morality and vision.  It is only ginned-up ignorance that has aroused the rabble to attack their memory, their history and the honors bestowed on them by generations of appropriately appreciative Americans.  Their sin in the eyes of the left is not drawn from an objective analysis of their, words, actions or deeds, but merely the fact that they are White old men — and the public is susceptible to the left’s fraud because of a lack of education.

You have to remember that the Equality Phrase in the Declaration of Independence was endorsed by all the Founders.  From the day it was adopted, it has screamed out against prejudice and white supremacy – or supremacy of any kind based on identity politics.  It was the clarion call that led to the abolition of slavery, the end of southern segregation and oppression – and coincidentally gave women and 18-year-olds the vote — and is still crying out on behalf of those currently trapped in our de facto segregated cities – the last vestiges of the Democratic Party’s long history of Negro oppression.

If it is wrong to apply cancel politics to such notable Americans as Washington, Jefferson and others, are there those who should be re-routed to less honorable statues?  For sure.  And I will deal with that in Part 2 of this commentary.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Robert

    Now this author does seem to live in a dilusional world, not one I have experienced in my 80+ years on this palnet. The founders of this USA were wealthy white men of privilege, and wrote the Constitution to keep wealthy white men in power, now everyone know that everyone was excluded in that Constitution except men, whicha t the time it was written, if you ddi not own land you were not a man and you could not vote on anything, so knowing that most cities were built on private land so the land owner had the votes and the people in the cities had none, the exact reason for the Electoral College, then at those times the Senators and representatives were named by the appointed Governors not by free elections, if you you think that the Governmor would appoint those that did not align with him, you also live in a different World. It took several amendments to that Constitution to give any of the not rich any rights including women. Just like in the 1800s a woman raqn for Prsident but womwn could not vote, no different in the 1940s black people could worka t hotels but could not stay as a guest in one. There is much more that some seem to either not know or do not want others to know.

    • Larry Horist

      As a person in your 80+ years, you did not learn a lot … except perhaps the old cliche narratives of the far left. As I pointed out in the commentary, the Founders made possible all the evolutionary improvements from the onset,

      They enabled we the people — through our elected representatives — to make a more perfect union. It was a male run world in the 1770s. But they did not restrict America to that world. They could have. They could have created a monarchy. They could have made their Constitution unamendable … or amendable only by the national legislature.. Tjheir achievement was remarkable because they rejected the zeitgeist of the times and built in reforms found nowhere else in the world.

      You obviously have not read any history on the debate over the Electoral College. It is actually ingenious in that it resolves our national elections rathern than have close election drag on in the courts for months or years without an empowered President.

      Governors were never given the sole authority to appoint U.S. Senators and Representatives. Geez! Representatives were elected by we the people from the onset … and Senators were elected by the state legislatures.

      Extending voting rights to non-land owners, women, Blacks and evern 18-year-old were are measures taken to create that “more perfect union.” The Founders — negotiating with the conflicting forces at the time — knew that they coiuld not achieve all that has been achieved since — but they gave us the mechanism to make those improvements.

      In terms of racial injustice — from slavery to today — you can thank the Democratic Party for defy the Constitution, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments, numerous civil rights laws and court edicts for the prolonged oppression of Black America. The all powerful southern Democrats were not operating under the Constitution and the amendments to that Constitution — but in defiance of it. Even after the Civil war, there was not a legal, constitutional election in the solid Democrat south for 100 years. And the de facto segregations and racism that marred our cities since the days of the Black’s great migration north is still found in those longtime Democrat-run cities.

      I would encourage you to take a little time to do some objective research. The mind is a terrible thing to waste — even an 80+ year-old-one.

  2. Mike

    Larry-The last portion of your article attempts to give a somewhat revisionist review of the founding fathers, but it bears no relationship to the first five paragraphs where you skewer Democrats, falsely arguing that they are the party of intolerance, while Republicans are the good guys. I have told you before that you are ignoring the facts that those southern democrats who advocated for the confederacy are not part of today’s democrat party, but have now become republicans, but still you attempt to mislead your most gullible readers. Why is that? So there tis, another example of Larry horist attempting to sow division for political purpose….

  3. Tit Tat

    What a pair of idiots you two are. Robert can’t distinguish between the heroic acts of visionary men and the underwhelming forces of political machines, even if what he says has any truth to it. The vision breaks through their own time and paves the way to a better world despite anything that stands in the way. And this fool Mike has so much CNN blown up his rear that he can’t see that the liberal left is burning town the democratic cities where they’ve been abused. Somehow the mind games the media cabal has played on him makes it impossible for him to believe his own eyes. So sad.

  4. Larry Horist

    You are simply wrong. Democrats retained the most of the hardcore racist voters in the south. They still do in places like Cleveland, Mississippi and Cumming, George where Black voter oppression was still taking place during the Obama Administration. In fact, those racists governors and senators were being re-elected by Democrats well into the 1970s and 80s … with former KKK member Robert Byrd serving until 2010. It was the Republicans who took down statues and battle flags long before the current controversy. And most importantly, dthe Democrat machines still rule over the segregated and impoverished inner cities. You seem to ignore all that for a flimsy narrative. To this day, the Democratic Party is primarily responsible for institutional racism.

    • Mike

      Larry, Saying something does not make it true. The Democrat party became the party of civil rights in the mid-20th century, and southern racists abandoned the democrats for the Republican Party in droves. To say otherwise leads me to believe you really are ignorant or choose to have your nose grow as long as trump. Do you think any of “those very fine people” who marched for WASP supremacy in Charlottesville voted for Hillary? But, my point was totally missed-the first segment of your article has nothing to do with the second. You just put that section in to make some of your readers feel good, when it is obvious to anyone with a high school education that the political parties have changed over time, and what was true 100, or 150 years ago about a party is not necessarily true today. Stop trying to blame what happened in the past on a political party, it is the people that are to blame, and their heirs have shifted their allegiance…

      • Larry Horist

        Once again you are ignoring FACTS for your personal narrative. you probably believe that CNN and MSNBC are impartial purveyors of the news. If Democrats become the Party of civil rights in the mid-1900s, why did it require the overwhelming support of civil rights to pass ALL the civil rights legislation…. 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1965, etc? And over Democrat votes and filibusters? And why is the greatest oppression of Blacks in America in the still segregated cities and school systems in the major cities run by authoritarian one-party Democrat machines for longer than you and I have lived? If the GOP took over the the racist voters in the south under Nixon, why did Nixon loss the south so badly in 1968 … and why did all those racist Senators governors, legislatures and mayors keep getting elected in the 1970s, 1980s and on? I am afraid you are the sad victim of political propaganda.