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¿Cuáles fueron las opiniones de los padres fundadores sobre los nativos americanos?

¿Cuáles fueron las opiniones de los padres fundadores sobre los nativos americanos?



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¿Cuáles fueron las opiniones de los padres fundadores sobre los nativos americanos?

¿Los padres fundadores tuvieron una falta de respeto por los nativos, o se les tuvo en cuenta positivamente en la promulgación de la constitución? ¿Hay alguna anécdota escrita personalmente de ellos que muestre una opinión particular?


Creo que podemos abordar un problema con bastante facilidad, relativo

¿Tuvieron los padres fundadores una falta de respeto por los nativos

Una respuesta muy simple sería mirar cómo se manejaban las relaciones con las tribus nativas americanas: tratados.

de aquí:

Al referirse a la concesión constitucional de poderes para celebrar tratados al director ejecutivo, con el "asesoramiento y consentimiento" del Senado,Washington declaró que una práctica similar también debería aplicarse a los acuerdos con los nativos americanos.. El Senado accedió a los deseos del presidente y aceptó los tratados como base para conducir las relaciones con la India.

En respuesta, el Congreso procedió a aprobar un tratado con siete tribus del norte (Shawnee, Miami, Ottawa, Chippewa, Iroquois, Sauk y Fox).

Otro sitio aquí discutiendo algunas de estas negociaciones de tratados:

Alexander McGillivray y otros 26 jefes de Creek firmaron un tratado con el presidente George Washington en Nueva York. Si bien Washington no amaba a los indios, invitó a la delegación de Creek a cenas, desfiles y ceremonias diplomáticas. que igualaron, y algunos dicen que excedieron, los acordados a cualquier misión diplomática europea.

Así que la opinión de los padres fundadores sobre el trato o el respeto por los nativos americanos está escrita, sí, como ley. Decidieron tratarlos con el respeto debido a cualquier nación, llevando a cabo tratados de la misma manera que los tratados con las potencias europeas de la época.


Actitudes de los padres fundadores sobre los nativos americanos

Actitudes de los padres fundadores hacia los nativos americanos:

Desde el comienzo de la historia de los Estados Unidos, los padres fundadores creen que se encuentran en una etapa más alta de las "cuatro etapas de la historia" de Adam Smith que los indígenas estadounidenses. George Washington prefiere los tratados a la fuerza, y escribe que cuando se le expulsa de su tierra, el "salvaje", como el lobo, siempre busca regresar.


Johnson contra McIntosh determinó que el título de propiedad de los indígenas americanos podía extinguirse "por compra o por conquista".

28 de febrero de 1823 | En una disputa por la tierra, la Corte Suprema determina que los títulos comprados a las tribus no reemplazan a los títulos otorgados por el gobierno federal, porque los ocupantes indígenas perdieron su "derecho de ocupación".

La opinión del presidente del Tribunal Supremo John Marshall llama a los indios americanos "salvajes feroces", afirmando: "El descubrimiento es la base del título, en las naciones europeas, y esto pasa por alto todos los derechos de propiedad de los nativos".


Incluso ahora, esta "Doctrina del Descubrimiento" continúa infiltrándose en las políticas y la mentalidad de hoy.


El presidente del Tribunal Supremo, John Marshall, compuso varias opiniones tempranas e influyentes sobre la relación entre los indios americanos y los Estados Unidos.


La opinión mayoritaria del presidente del Tribunal Supremo John Marshall afirma que la tribu no es una nación independiente, sino una "nación doméstica dependiente" con una relación con los Estados Unidos "como la de un pupilo con su tutor". Esta mentalidad de guardián de guardia se ha trasladado a las relaciones entre los indígenas estadounidenses y los estadounidenses de hoy en día.


El Congreso aprueba la Ley de Asignación General, que autoriza al presidente a dividir las tierras tribales y repartirlas entre los indígenas estadounidenses. En el proceso, las tribus son despojadas de 90 millones de acres.


Mientras tanto, los niños indígenas estadounidenses se ven obligados a asimilarse en internados obligatorios. (Y también comenzarían los programas de adopción de indios)


El coronel Richard Pratt, fundador del primer internado indio fuera de la reserva, pronuncia un discurso en 1892 en el que adora "matar al indio que hay en él y salvar al hombre".


(Vídeos: Programa de Gestión Tribal de la UAF)


En este video, la académica y defensora de los indígenas estadounidenses Ada Deer califica las terminaciones como un "desastre cultural, económico y político" para los indígenas estadounidenses.
El Congreso cancela el estatus tribal de más de 100 tribus en la década de 1950. Cuando las tribus pierden su estatus, sus tierras quedan sujetas a impuestos y los miembros pierden acceso a programas y servicios federales. El gobierno debilita aún más a las tribus al reubicar a los indígenas estadounidenses de las reservas a las ciudades y ampliar la jurisdicción estatal sobre las reservas.


Leer más de Nick

Plymouth Rock no es Filadelfia, la cuna de la constitución de Estados Unidos. El paso transatlántico del Mayflower no está impregnado de la misma gloria nacional que el cruce del Delaware o el asalto a las playas de Normandía, a pesar de las afirmaciones de las atracciones turísticas locales de que fue el viaje lo que hizo una nación. No existe el equivalente de Mayflower en Broadway de Hamilton, el homenaje del hip-hop al padre del sistema financiero de Estados Unidos. En todo caso, la piedad y las tendencias teocráticas de los peregrinos se prestan más a una parodia al estilo del Libro de Mormón.

Los estadounidenses no convergen en Plymouth Rock con el mismo sentido de peregrinaje que, por ejemplo, Gettysburg o incluso Graceland. Como estudiante de historia en la cercana Boston a principios de los noventa, ni siquiera me molesté en hacer el corto viaje yo mismo. A finales del siglo XIX, había un plan para erigir una estatua para conmemorar a los Padres Peregrinos que rivalizaría con el Coloso de Rodas y la Estatua de la Libertad enana de Nueva York. Pero esta octava maravilla del mundo nunca se hizo realidad, y en su lugar se construyó un monumento más diminuto. En cuanto al pabellón que encierra el trozo de roca que marca el punto de desembarque, es para los estándares estadounidenses un marcador modesto: un dosel sostenido por 12 columnas jónicas que fácilmente podría confundirse con un quiosco de música municipal.

El pacto de Mayflower es un documento histórico significativo, la "cuna sacudida por las olas de nuestras libertades", como lo expresó de manera evocadora un historiador. Firmado por los Peregrinos y los llamados Extraños, los artesanos, comerciantes y sirvientes contratados traídos con ellos para establecer una colonia exitosa, acordó aprobar "leyes justas e iguales para el bien de la Colonia". El primer experimento en el autogobierno del Nuevo Mundo, algunos académicos incluso lo ven como una especie de Carta Magna estadounidense, un modelo para la Declaración de Independencia y la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, los estudiosos del Centro Constitucional de Filadelfia sugieren que se había olvidado en gran medida cuando los Padres Fundadores se reunieron en el Independence Hall. Los peregrinos tampoco creyeron en lo que Robert Hughes llamó una vez `` la jerarquía de los virtuosos '' en la poesía más secular de la Declaración de Independencia de que todos los hombres son creados iguales y dotados por su creador de ciertos derechos inalienables. Además, el pacto de Mayflower comenzó con una declaración de lealtad a King James.

Después de que Washington triunfó en Yorktown contra los británicos, y esta nación incipiente comenzó a afirmarse en el mundo, los primeros redactores de la historia estadounidense prefirieron comenzar sus historias con Cristóbal Colón, a pesar de que el explorador italiano nunca puso un pie en América del Norte. Un nuevo país que acababa de expulsar a los británicos no quería ser definido por su ingles. Minimizar el Mayflower se convirtió en un acto temprano de descolonización.

Los políticos de hoy en día se han apropiado de parte del lenguaje mesiánico de la era de los colonos. A Ronald Reagan le gustaba hablar de "la ciudad de la colina", ventrílocuo el lenguaje utilizado por John Winthrop mientras viajaba hacia Nueva Inglaterra. Pero Winthrop era más puritano que peregrino, y zarpó a bordo del Arbella en lugar del Mayflower. Es una diferencia sutil pero importante. A diferencia de los peregrinos, los puritanos, que llegaron diez años después, no eran separatistas. Habían permanecido en la Iglesia de Inglaterra con la esperanza de desterrar sus costumbres católicas desde adentro. La colonia de la bahía de Massachusetts que fundaron al norte, el asentamiento que se convirtió en Boston, fue mucho más influyente en la configuración de Estados Unidos que la plantación de Plymouth.

Sin embargo, en conjunto, el legado de los peregrinos y los puritanos es fundamental. La ética del trabajo. El hecho de que los estadounidenses no tomen muchas vacaciones anuales. Nociones de autosuficiencia y actitudes hacia el bienestar del gobierno. Leyes que prohíben a los jóvenes beber en bares hasta los 21 años. Cierta mojigatería. La religiosidad. Los estadounidenses continúan esperando que sus presidentes sean hombres de fe. De hecho, ningún ocupante de la Casa Blanca se ha identificado abiertamente como ateo. También el afán de lucro era fuerte entre los colonos, y con él la creencia de que la prosperidad era una recompensa divina por seguir el camino de Dios, un precursor del evangelio de la prosperidad predicado por los evangelistas televisivos de hoy en día.

Todos estos rasgos nacionales tienen raíces que se pueden rastrear hasta los puritanos. El francés Alexis de Tocqueville incluso escribió en su obra fundamental, Democracy in America: "Creo que podemos ver todo el destino de América contenido en el primer puritano que desembarcó en estas costas".

Los Padres Peregrinos, o más exactamente, las Madres Peregrinas, también crearon un acervo genético del que continúan extrayendo decenas de millones de estadounidenses. Tantos ciudadanos estadounidenses afirman tener antepasados ​​que llegaron en el Mayflower que se le perdonará por pensar que este barco de tres velas era del tamaño de un portaaviones.

Por todo eso, casi la única vez que los Padres Peregrinos ocupan un lugar preponderante en la imaginación nacional es el Día de Acción de Gracias, esa fiesta de pavo y calabaza antes de Navidad en la que toda América se detiene calóricamente. Esta fiesta nacional se deriva de la celebración que marcó la primera cosecha en 1621, cuando los colonos se sentaron con los nativos americanos Wampanaog. Ha sido empaquetado como un acto de coexistencia pacífica, un banquete agradable que sugiere que los indígenas americanos recibieron a los Padres Peregrinos con los brazos abiertos.

Sin embargo, la mayor parte de lo que se les enseña a los escolares estadounidenses sobre esa festividad no resiste un escrutinio minucioso. Es una mitología, no una historia. Están las inexactitudes intrascendentes. Se pensó, por ejemplo, que la carne de venado era la principal oferta. El menú moderno de pastel de pavo y calabaza fue inventado por una editora de revistas del siglo XIX, la Martha Stewart de su época, que había leído sobre esa primera fiesta y presionó a Abraham Lincoln para que convirtiera el Día de Acción de Gracias en una fiesta nacional.

Pero es la ficción más grande la que más daña. En un recuento fraudulento, el lugar de los nativos americanos en esa mesa ha sido comúnmente malversado e incomprendido. El Día de Acción de Gracias ha alentado la idea de que los indígenas estadounidenses saludaban con gusto a los colonos blancos, europeos ayudaron a enseñar a los recién llegados cómo sobrevivir en el Nuevo Mundo, vivieron juntos armoniosamente unidos para esta celebración y luego desaparecieron de la historia. Es una narrativa de validación colonial de la aceptación artificial de la comodidad blanca. Es una historia que acepta al pie de la letra un sello de la colonia diseñado por Massachusetts Bay Colony que mostraba a un indígena americano semidesnudo suplicando a los ingleses que "Vengan y ayúdenos". El Día de Acción de Gracias se ha convertido en consecuencia en un velo estadounidense, una capa de invisibilidad. bajo el cual las verdades incómodas de la historia se han ocultado durante siglos.

Aunque hubo una sensación de distensión en esos primeros años, en gran parte porque los Wampanoag estaban ansiosos por reclutar aliados contra una tribu rival, rápidamente se vino abajo. Los nativos americanos se convirtieron en víctimas de los colonos, presa de sus apropiaciones de tierras, la explotación de sus recursos naturales y las enfermedades mortales importadas de Europa de las que no tenían inmunidad. Todas estas tensiones estallaron en una serie de guerras entre los habitantes indígenas de Nueva Inglaterra y los colonizadores que les robaron sus tierras. Esta, entonces, es una historia más de conflicto que de colaboración, de derramamiento de sangre, no de hermandad. A veces se celebraban fiestas de Acción de Gracias para celebrar las victorias sobre los nativos americanos.

Como ha demostrado el historiador David Silverman en su libro, Esta tierra es su tierra, la idea de que los peregrinos fueron los padres de América fue adoptada por los habitantes de Nueva Inglaterra a finales del siglo XVIII, preocupados de que su influencia cultural no fuera tan fuerte como debería. sea ​​como la primera república tomó forma. A partir de entonces, la primacía de los peregrinos y los mitos del Día de Acción de Gracias se reutilizaron cada vez que la estirpe protestante blanca sintió que su hegemonía estaba amenazada. Esto fue especialmente cierto en el siglo XIX, cuando oleadas de inmigrantes europeos católicos y judíos desafiaron el dominio del protestantismo blanco. Los Padres Peregrinos, entonces, fueron cooptados para afirmar el predominio de la cultura WASP: blanca, anglosajona y protestante. Se utilizaron para establecer una jerarquía cultural.

Ese dominio persiste hasta el día de hoy. Un país colonizado por protestantes anglosajones sigue favoreciendo a los protestantes anglosajones. No fue hasta 1960 que Estados Unidos eligió a un presidente católico, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, un político de origen irlandés. Joe Biden busca convertirse en el segundo.

También existe una dimensión de clase en la cultura WASP que significa que los Padres Peregrinos difícilmente son considerados héroes populistas, los chicos del cartel del actual titular de la Casa Blanca y sus partidarios de Make America Great Again. La cultura WASP ha sido tradicionalmente un coto de la clase alta, reforzada a través del matrimonio, la herencia, el patrocinio y las escuelas y universidades de élite.

Los Padres Peregrinos fueron los creadores de un sistema de clases estadounidense que hizo que Donald Trump, a pesar de todas sus riquezas, se sintiera como un extraño. Aunque su madre nació en Escocia, Donald Trump es de origen alemán y creció en Queens, un distrito exterior pasado de moda de Nueva York. Eso lo convirtió en un "tipo de puente y túnel de cuotas" para los sangre azul WASP de Manhattan, que se burlaron de él como un magnate inmobiliario nuevo rico y se burlaron de él como un vulgar candidato presidencial. Aquellos que desembarcaron en Plymouth Rock eran la élite original de la Costa Este, sus descendientes a menudo eran el blanco de las invectivas antielitistas de Donald Trump.

Los Padres Peregrinos también afirmaron el dominio de la raza blanca, a menudo con fuerza asesina. Durante estos primeros años, en un ciclo de asesinatos en represalia, hubo masacres en ambos lados. Pero el salvajismo de los colonos blancos fue grotesco. Intentaron aterrorizar a su enemigo mediante ataques a los no combatientes, prendiendo fuego a los wigwams y matando a espada a los que escapaban. Luego envolvieron esta matanza en el lenguaje de la redención, de cómo habían hecho el trabajo del Señor al enviar a estas almas impías al infierno.

Los habitantes originales de esta tierra llegaron a ser tratados como invasores merodeadores. Cuando en 1675, un grupo de indígenas estadounidenses se unieron para luchar contra los colonos, el cadáver de su líder Metacom, a quien los ingleses apodaron King Phillip, fue tratado como un trofeo. Fue decapitado y su cabeza se exhibió en una pica en Plymouth Plantation.

Así como tradicionalmente se ha minimizado su brutalidad, se ha ignorado el abrazo de los puritanos a la esclavitud. Los colonos no solo importaban esclavos africanos, sino que exportaban nativos americanos. En la década de 1660, la mitad de los barcos en el puerto de Boston estaban involucrados en el comercio de esclavos. Al menos cientos de indígenas estadounidenses fueron esclavizados.

La división racial ha sido durante mucho tiempo el escenario predeterminado de la vida estadounidense, y esos primeros colonos blancos marcaron la línea de color en la sangre de los nativos americanos. Sin embargo, hasta el día de hoy, los Padres Peregrinos continúan siendo retratados principalmente como las propias víctimas de la persecución, los solicitantes de asilo originales que huyeron de la intolerancia religiosa de su tierra natal.

El recuento del viaje de Mayflower como una historia de origen también ha promovido y sostenido la creencia de que la historia estadounidense comienza en el momento del asentamiento europeo. Esto no es tanto un blanqueamiento de la historia de los nativos americanos sino su completa eliminación. Es un encuadre de la historia basado en la creencia contemporánea de que los colonos llegaron a tierras baldías en lugar de territorios que habían estado ocupados durante miles de años. Esta crónica de los conquistadores ignora deliberadamente al menos 12.000 años de historia de los nativos americanos, una narrativa complicada y a menudo sangrienta.

Cuando empiezas a reconsiderar la historia desde la perspectiva de los vencidos, se abren algunas posibilidades historiográficas innovadoras. En su exitosa historia de los Estados Unidos, These Truths, la académica de Harvard Jill Lepore argumenta, por ejemplo, que la revolución en Estados Unidos no comenzó con los colonos ingleses que eventualmente se rebelaron contra el rey, sino con la gente sobre la que gobernaron. En este replanteo, los patriotas estadounidenses que se enfrentaron a los británicos se presentan como los herederos revolucionarios de los nativos americanos que se enfrentaron a los ingleses.

Al menos durante las conmemoraciones de este año se reconocerá la historia del pueblo Wampanoag. Esto no era así hace 50 años, durante el 350 aniversario. Aunque se invitó a un líder nativo americano a hablar en una cena en Plymouth, Massachusetts, no se le permitió entregar su texto preparado. Había descrito la llegada del Mayflower como el principio del fin para su pueblo, una dura verdad considerada demasiado desagradable para los ancianos de la ciudad que asistían a un banquete de autocomplacencia.

Dar más protagonismo al Wampanoag en estas conmemoraciones se considerará como una medida correctiva que se debió hacer mucho tiempo, convirtiendo la celebración de un viaje en más una búsqueda de comprensión. Pero no se equivoquen: las guerras de la historia estadounidense continuarán librándose y los Padres Peregrinos serán representantes en esa batalla.


2 Toro Sentado

Toro Sentado era un santo Lakota Sioux. Una leyenda debido a su coraje, Toro Sentado derrotó al general Custer en las Black Hills de Dakota del Sur. Cuando Custer descubrió oro en Black Hills, intentó forzar a los Lakota a que se alojaran en reservaciones lejos de su tierra natal. El comisionado de Asuntos Indígenas en ese momento decretó que cualquier Lakota que no se mudara a la reserva antes del 31 de enero de 1876 sería considerado hostil. Toro Sentado no se movía. El ejército de Custer se encontró con el jefe Lakota en la Batalla de Little Bighorn, donde fueron superados en número y luego destruidos.


Francis Hopkinson ayudó a diseñar la bandera estadounidense

Todo el mundo sabe quién creó la bandera estadounidense, ¿verdad? ¡Era Betsy Ross, y lo cosió a mano! Pero tal vez no. El reclamo de Ross a la fama no se estableció hasta más de 100 años después, cuando su nieto afirmó que ella lo creó sin ninguna prueba sólida. Si bien hay muchas pruebas de que cosió muchas banderas para los primeros Estados Unidos, los historiadores son en gran medida escépticos de que en realidad diseñado eso, según Colonial Williamsburg.

Lo que es más probable es que el diseño de la bandera fue un esfuerzo de colaboración, y hay evidencia de esto, según HowStuffWorks. Francis Hopkinson, representante en el Congreso Continental de Nueva Jersey y firmante de la Declaración de Independencia, parece haber intervenido. Se sabe que diseñó otras cosas, como el sello de Nueva Jersey, el sello del Tesoro y el Gran Sello de los Estados Unidos.

La evidencia de esto es una carta que Hopkinson escribió a la Junta del Almirantazgo pidiendo una compensación por diseñar la bandera. Específicamente, pidió un montón de vino. Sin embargo, la solicitud fue denegada porque la bandera fue un esfuerzo de colaboración y Hopkinson no fue el único contribuyente. Si bien no sabemos el alcance de su trabajo o quién más ayudó con el diseño, parece que Hopkinson estuvo al menos involucrado hasta cierto punto (y realmente le gustaba el vino).


Pero algunos, como Benjamin Franklin, felicitaron a los nativos americanos

En la década de 1780, Benjamin Franklin escribió "Comentarios sobre los salvajes de América del Norte". A pesar de llamarlos "salvajes", felicitó a los nativos americanos, tomando nota de las "reglas de cortesía de los indios" y de cómo esos modales contribuían a una diplomacia eficaz. Estas descripciones presentaban no un grupo de salvajes sedientos de sangre, sino grupos respetables cuyas costumbres y tradiciones podrían servir al floreciente gobierno estadounidense.

Franklin hizo este punto exacto cuando señaló con ironía: "Los llamamos salvajes porque sus modales difieren de los nuestros, que creemos que la perfección de la civilidad es que ellos piensan lo mismo de los suyos".


¿Cuáles fueron las opiniones de los padres fundadores sobre los nativos americanos? - Historia

En honor al Día de los Presidentes y al cumpleaños de George Washington esta semana, revisaré en una serie de blogs diarios las vidas y legados de esos patriotas estadounidenses conocidos colectivamente como los Padres Fundadores.

Primero, ¿quiénes eran estos tipos?

"Padres Fundadores" se refiere a los estadistas más prominentes de la generación revolucionaria de Estados Unidos, responsables de la exitosa guerra por la independencia colonial de Gran Bretaña, las ideas liberales celebradas en la Declaración de Independencia y la forma republicana de gobierno definida en la Constitución de los Estados Unidos. Si bien no hay criterios acordados para la inclusión, la membresía en este grupo selecto generalmente requiere contribuciones conspicuas en una o ambas fundaciones estadounidenses: durante la rebelión contra Gran Bretaña, cuando se ganó la independencia, o durante la Convención Constitucional, cuando se logró la nacionalidad. .

Aunque la lista de miembros puede expandirse y contraerse en respuesta a presiones políticas y prejuicios ideológicos del momento, los siguientes 10, presentados alfabéticamente, representan la “galería de grandes” que ha resistido la prueba del tiempo: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Marshall, George Mason y George Washington. Existe un consenso casi unánime de que George Washington fue el Padre más fundador de todos.

El debate: ¿semidioses o demonios?

Dentro del mundo más amplio de la opinión popular en los Estados Unidos, los Padres Fundadores a menudo reciben un estatus casi mítico como semidioses que ocupan lugares privilegiados en las laderas de alguna versión estadounidense del Monte Olimpo. Sin embargo, dentro del mundo más estrecho de la academia, la opinión está más dividida. En general, los estudios de las últimas tres décadas se han centrado más en los estadounidenses comunes y "inarticulados" de finales del siglo XVIII, la periferia de la escena social que el centro. Y gran parte del trabajo académico centrado en los Fundadores ha enfatizado sus fracasos más que sus éxitos, principalmente su fracaso para acabar con la esclavitud o llegar a un acuerdo sensato con los nativos americanos.

El mismo término "Padres Fundadores" también ha sorprendido a algunos académicos por ser intrínsecamente sexista, excluyendo verbalmente a las mujeres de un papel destacado en la fundación. Mujeres tan influyentes como Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison y Mercy Otis Warren hicieron contribuciones significativas que merecen atención, a pesar de que la etiqueta de Padres Fundadores oculta su papel.

Como resultado, la etiqueta de los Padres Fundadores que se originó en el siglo XIX como una designación cuasirreligiosa y casi reverencial se ha convertido en un término más controvertido en el siglo XXI. Cualquier evaluación de la generación fundadora de Estados Unidos se ha convertido en una conversación sobre los valores fundamentales encarnados en las instituciones políticas de los Estados Unidos, que alternativamente se celebran como la fuente de la democracia y un legado liberal triunfante, o se demonizan como la fuente de la arrogancia estadounidense, el racismo, e imperialismo.

Por al menos dos razones, el debate sobre sus Fundadores ocupa un lugar especial en la historia de Estados Unidos a diferencia de la historia de cualquier estado-nación europeo. En primer lugar, Estados Unidos no se basó en una etnia, idioma o religión común que pudiera darse por sentado como la fuente principal de identidad nacional. En cambio, se basó en un conjunto de creencias y convicciones, lo que Thomas Jefferson describió como verdades evidentes, que fueron proclamadas en 1776 y luego incorporadas en la Declaración de Derechos de la Constitución. Convertirse en ciudadano estadounidense no es una cuestión de linaje o genealogía, sino de respaldar y abrazar los valores establecidos en la fundación, lo que otorga a los hombres que inventaron estos valores un significado especial. En segundo lugar, el sistema de jurisprudencia estadounidense vincula todas las decisiones constitucionales históricas con el lenguaje de la propia Constitución y, a menudo, con la "intención original" de los redactores. Una vez más, esta tradición jurídica otorga a los fundadores estadounidenses una relevancia permanente en las discusiones actuales sobre política exterior e interior que sería inconcebible en la mayoría de los países europeos.

Finalmente, en parte porque siempre parece haber mucho en juego cada vez que los Padres Fundadores entablan una conversación histórica, el debate sobre sus logros y su legado tiende a asumir una forma hiperbólica. Es como si un campo electromagnético rodeara la discusión, conduciendo el debate hacia valoraciones mutuamente excluyentes. De la misma manera que los adolescentes ven a sus padres, los Fundadores son representados como íconos heroicos o villanos despreciables, semidioses o demonios, los creadores de todo lo que está bien y todo lo que está mal en la sociedad estadounidense. En los últimos años, el Fundador cuya reputación ha sido arrojada de manera más dramática a través de este arco desmayado es Thomas Jefferson, al mismo tiempo el autor de la interpretación más lírica de la promesa estadounidense al mundo y la afirmación más explícita de la inferioridad biológica de los afroamericanos.

Desde finales de la década de 1990, una oleada de nuevos libros sobre los Padres Fundadores, varios de los cuales han disfrutado de un sorprendente éxito comercial y crítico, ha comenzado a liberarse del patrón hiperbólico y a generar una conversación adulta en lugar de adolescente en la que un sentido de ironía y paradoja reemplaza las viejas categorías moralistas. Esta beca reciente depende en gran medida de los proyectos editoriales masivos, en curso durante el último medio siglo, que han producido un nivel de documentación sobre los fundadores estadounidenses que es más completo y detallado que el relato de cualquier élite política en la historia registrada.

Si bien esta enorme avalancha de evidencia histórica es un buen augurio para una interpretación más matizada y sofisticada de la generación fundadora, es probable que el debate conserve una ventaja especial para la mayoría de los estadounidenses. Mientras Estados Unidos siga siendo un gobierno republicano establecido a fines del siglo XVIII, todos los estadounidenses están viviendo el legado de ese momento creativo y, por lo tanto, no pueden escapar de sus grandes y trágicas implicaciones. Y debido a que los Fundadores estadounidenses fueron hombres reales, no leyendas ficticias como Rómulo y Remo de Roma o el Rey Arturo de Inglaterra, no podrán soportar las cargas imposibles que los estadounidenses, reflexiva, quizás inevitablemente, necesitan imponerles.

Mañana & # 8217s Publicación: & # 8220Logros y fracasos & # 8221


El Dios de la naturaleza y los padres fundadores

Desde su púlpito en la Iglesia Episcopal de Cristo en Filadelfia, el Dr. James Abercrombie miró hacia una congregación que incluía al primer presidente de los Estados Unidos. Tenía buenas razones para sentir algo de nerviosismo ese domingo por la mañana en particular, porque estaba a punto de realizar un acto de atrevimiento eclesiástico. Estaba a punto de regañar a George Washington, en público, por su comportamiento religioso.

El Dr. Abercrombie no mencionó ningún nombre al lanzar un sermón sobre la grave responsabilidad de “los que están en las estaciones elevadas” de dar un buen ejemplo a la gente menor, pero solo los niños en sus bancas ese día podrían haber perdido el punto. Se centró en la celebración de la Cena del Señor y todos sabían que el presidente Washington se unía habitualmente a los que salían de la iglesia los domingos de comunión, justo antes de que se administrara la Santa Cena. El objetivo del rector era vergonzosamente caro.

Sin duda, el Dr. Abercrombie esperaba lograr el piadoso triunfo de persuadir al presidente de que tomara la sagrada comunión en su altar. Pero, aunque su mensaje no había pasado desapercibido a los oídos presidenciales, el resultado fue desconcertante. Washington nunca volvió a salir de la iglesia justo antes de la Cena del Señor; desde ese momento en adelante, no vino en absoluto los domingos de comunión.

El ministro se tragó su decepción lo mejor que pudo. Al escribir, años más tarde, a alguien que le había preguntado sobre la religión de Washington, dijo que, según uno de los conocidos del presidente, no podía recordar con precisión a quién, el gran hombre prefería mantenerse alejado en lugar de convertirse en comulgante porque, "¿estaba él? para convertirse en uno entonces, sería imputado a una exhibición ostentosa de celo religioso ". Esta fue una explicación relativamente consoladora, pero hay indicios de que no logró convencer al propio Dr. Abercrombie. “Que Washington era un cristiano profesante”, agregó a su corresponsal, “es evidente por su asistencia regular a nuestra iglesia, pero señor, no puedo considerar a ningún hombre como un verdadero cristiano que ignore uniformemente una ordenanza tan solemnemente ordenada por el Autor divino. de nuestra santa religión ... "

¿Cuáles fueron las razones de Washington para negarse a participar en la Cena del Señor? Las respuestas exactas se pierden en la historia, ocultas detrás de la reticencia que mantuvo constantemente en lo que respecta a sus creencias privadas. Sin embargo, en términos de inferencia razonable, es posible ofrecer una explicación. Durante mucho tiempo estuvo expuesto a las ideas de la Ilustración europea, y su comportamiento sugiere que sus puntos de vista religiosos fueron moldeados considerablemente por ello. Era una atmósfera intelectual que no favorecía los ritos simbólicos, entre otras cosas. En su exposición a ella, Washington, por supuesto, estuvo lejos de ser el único entre los padres fundadores de la república estadounidense. Inevitablemente, todos sus contemporáneos educados fueron en cierta medida hijos de la Era de la Razón (como la llamó Tom Paine) y entre ellos varios de los líderes políticos reconocidos fueron sin duda sus hijos eminentes.

Sin embargo, no hubo una gran uniformidad de opinión entre los Padres Fundadores sobre cuestiones religiosas o filosóficas específicas. Ya sea que se consideren los firmantes de la Declaración de Independencia o los delegados a la Convención Constitucional de 1787, o ambos, es fácil encontrar una diversidad de sectas y credos. Pero el amplio espectro de denominaciones es en sí mismo un recordatorio de que una característica principal de la Ilustración fue el respeto por las opiniones disidentes. El famoso comentario atribuido a Voltaire, “Puede que no esté de acuerdo con lo que dices, pero defenderé hasta la muerte tu derecho a decirlo”, capta el espíritu de la época. Si bien la plena libertad de creencias no estaba protegida legalmente en ninguna de las colonias al comienzo de la Revolución, y la mayoría de ellas tenían una iglesia establecida apoyada por el gobierno, los grupos minoritarios y las personas inconformistas tuvieron de hecho un margen de maniobra considerable. Los católicos eran fuertes en los cuáqueros de Maryland, en Pensilvania. En Nueva Inglaterra, la evolución de la doctrina congregacional se había movido hacia la libertad de conciencia durante más de un siglo, por lo que había una especie de paradoja en el establecimiento legal de una iglesia tan casi democrática en su organización. The supremacy of the Anglicans in the South, moreover, was weakened by the fact that theirs was the official church of England in a period when independence from the mother country was about to become the paramount fact of current history. For, whatever their doctrinal differences in religion, all of the Founding Fathers were political revolutionaries, determined to enact a new formulation of the idea of government by consent of the governed.

Even Washington’s most ardent admirers have never claimed that he was, philosophically, a deep thinker. Thomas Jefferson, by contrast, was as philosophically inclined, and gifted with as keen an analytical mind, as any American of his time. His interest in religion and its proper relationship to government was intense, and it persisted throughout his long life. During his second term as President (1805–1809) he sought relief from the tremendous pressures of his office by composing, for his own satisfaction, a version of the New Testament which he called “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” It would have interested Washington, for among many other significant omissions it pointedly left out the story of the Last Supper. This was as good a clue as any to Jefferson’s idea in undertaking the work, which was, in his own sharp language, to rescue from “the speculations of crazy theologists” the moral teachings of Jesus, “abstracting what is really his from the rubbish in which it is buried.”

In his own terms, Jefferson claimed to be a Christian —but he assuredly was not one according to Dr. Abercrombic’s standards, or for that matter according to the doctrine of any organized Christian church, unless it was the fledgling Unitarian. He rejected, he wrote, “the immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity, original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of Hierarchy, etc.” He thought of Christ as a great reformer, author of “a system of the most sublime morality which has ever fallen from the lips of man”—but human rather than divine. To be a Christian, for Jefferson, was simply to follow the system of ethics taught by Christ, uncontaminatecl by what he considered the additions, adulterations, and distortions of those who came after. And Jefferson thought he had an easy touchstone for distinguishing Jesus’ original teachings from the dross. All that was needed was the “free exercise of reason”: with that, the genuine precepts of the Master would never be found to disagree.

To orthodox clergymen and theologians this was heresy it was, many of them angrily charged, a mere disguise for atheism. As a prominent political figure, Jefferson often suffered from his refusal to accept traditional Christianity, even though he tried to keep his religious views largely to himself. His skepticism toward anything alleged to be supernatural was misunderstood, and his high regard for Christian ethics was usually ignored. Shocking stories circulated long before he became a presidential candidate, and their currency grew with his fame. John Trumbull, the great painter of the Revolution, told one about a dinner party at Jefferson’s home in 1793, when the future President sat “smiling and nodding approbation” while Congressman William Giles of Virginia—a fellow skeptic—”proceeded so far … as to ridicule the character, conduct and doctrines of the divine founder of our religion.” This was unquestionably an exaggeration, but it suggests Jefferson’s reputation at the time. When he was presidential runner-up in 1796, a minister in Connecticut took note of the event in a prayer before his congregation: “O Lord! wilt Thou bestow upon the Vice President a double portion of Thy grace, for Thou knowest he needs it .” In the campaign of 1800 Jefferson’s “infidelity” was an easy target for Federalist orators and pamphleteers.

Yet there is little doubt that Jefferson held a profound belief in a Supreme Being. In a fashion typical of eighteenth-century intellectuals, he held it not on implicit faith, but as a reasoned conclusion based on evidence and deduction. “I hold (without appeal to revelation),” he once wrote to John Adams, “that when we take a view of the universe, in its parts, general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition.” Newton and his contemporaries in the seventeenth century had magnificently demonstrated that man lived in a universe of precise mathematical law and order it seemed scientifically evident to most thinkers in the following era that such a cosmic design could come only from the hand of a divine Creator.

It was a long way from the theology of traditional Christianity, this idea of an invisible but demonstrable God whose existence was proved only by His handiwork for “He” was now a nearly impersonal power, responsible for the origin and laws of the universe, but not interfering in its operation once the myriad wheels of the great machine had been set in motion. This was “Nature’s God,” as Jefferson phrased it in the Declaration of Independence and to him and many others the religion appropriate to Nature’s God must be natural, not supernatural, in its foundations. Deism, or “natural religion,” expressed their theological creed, not a Christianity based on revelation, mystery, and miracle.

Some men—notably a prominent group in France including Diderot, d’Alembert, Condorcet, and the Baron d’Holbach—went further, postulating an automatic universe, operating by inexorable natural laws, but utterly devoid of God or God’s purpose. Jefferson was inclined to resist this surge toward atheism, yet it is only justice to the true character of his mind to emphasize that his attitude was far from fanatical. He was never an absolutist, even on the question of God’s existence. His creed of intellectual freedom was much too firm for that, and at worst he saw no alarming threat in atheism. Before he went to France to be United States minister from 1784 to 1789, he had already considered the effects of full disbelief. “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty Gods, or no God,” he observed in his Notes on Virginia (1782). “It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” And writing to his young nephew, Peter Carr, from Paris in 1787, he urged him to make reason his guide: "… call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”

Jefferson’s vital disposition toward freedom of thought was strengthened by his five years in France. Not only was he there a first-hand observer of the moral and material degradation resulting, as he saw it, from the combination of religious persecution and tyrannical government. In that cosmopolitan air he also made familiar contact with many of the most brilliant figures of the age. The political, philosophical, and religious ideas of the Enlightenment now reached him not just in books, but in absorbing conversations across his own dinner table. Voltaire had written that atheists, deplorable as they might be, would still make better neighbors than religious fanatics. Jefferson came to know some of the leading French atheists as friends and acquaintances, and he found them anything but monsters. “Diderot, D’Alcmbert, D’Holbach, Gondorcet,” he wrote to a friend years later, “are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.”

This crucial question of the basis of human morality, bearing as it does on the relation between religion and government, intrigued Jefferson all his life. He early formed an opinion consistent with the natural religion of the Enlightenment, and from it he never swerved throughout the remainder of his eighty-three years. Its essence was natural morality. “Man was destined for society,” he wrote to his nephew in 1787. ”… He was endowed with a sense of right and wrong, merely relative to this. This sense is as much a part of his nature, as the sense of hearing, seeing, feeling it is the true foundation of morality.… The moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or arm.” And while Jefferson firmly believed that this moral sense was the gift of a divine Creator, he was equally certain that acknowledgment of its source was not necessary to its function. If young Peter Carr, having fully considered the evidence, were to become an atheist, still, Jefferson assured him, “you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you.”

Jefferson’s theory of natural morality was for him the cornerstone of the democratic faith which he did so much during his lifetime to make a living reality. The church doctrine of original sin was anathema to him. Human nature could be trusted: all normal men were endowed by their Creator not only with unalienable rights, but with unalienable instincts, including a natural moral sense. Except under bad social conditions—ignorance, poor education, poverty—the mass of men, he felt, would surely gravitate toward what was right on fundamental issues, if only they were allowed complete freedom of conscience. The principle of majority rule—a sacred principle to Jefferson—depended on the premise of a well-informed public, each member of which could choose among moral or political alternatives with absolute freedom from mental coercion.

This is the key to Jefferson’s lifelong insistence on complete separation of church and slate. While it was a matter of democratic principle with him to champion full freedom of voluntary association, so that any number of divergent sects could thrive without government interference, he had no sympathy for their dogmatic approach to questions of moral truth. An organized church, he thought, was unlikely to leave men’s minds completely free. Whatever the denomination, each claimed a special revelation of God’s will, imparted directly to its prophets or priests, or recorded in the Bible. (Franklin, whose views were much like Jefferson’s, said that religious sects reminded him of “a certain French lady who, in a dispute with her sister, said, ‘I don’t know how it happens, sister, but I meet with nobody but myself that’s always in the right!’ ”) Few were therefore willing to relinquish moral (and, by implication, political) choices to the untrammelled conscience of the individual citizen.

Jefferson had the good fortune to live long and to compose his own epitaph after much deliberation. It was a modest statement for a man who had been among the foremost in establishing the American nation. He wished his tombstone to cite him in three capacities only: “Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.” The order was chronological, but in a most important sense the three accomplishments were one and indivisible. The Declaration of Independence envisaged a free society ruled by consent of the governed. But informed decision and consent could be based only on good public education and good education, in turn, could be based only on complete freedom of the mind. In the history of the new republic the first fundamental challenge to freedom of the mind came in the area of religion.

It is a curious fact of American history that the man who was inseparably associated with Jefferson in his fight for religious freedom, and who was to become his closest friend for nearly half a century, grew up only thirty-odd miles from Monticello, yet never met him until late in 1776. James Madison of Montpelier, in Port Conway, Virginia, came to the capitol at Williamsburg in May of that year, an elected delegate to the state convention. By that time, Jefferson was off to his appointment with fame in Philadelphia, and so the two did not meet until the following autumn—and even then their contact was slight. But in the meantime something had happened at Williamsburg to form a bond between them no less strong for its resting temporarily unperceived.

The government of Virginia was in process of being overhauled in the spring of 1776, and although young Madison, a relatively unknown delegate, did not have a great deal to do with the new state constitution, he was a member of a committee appointed to draw up a bill of rights. The great George Mason of Gunston Hall was chief author of the articles in this bill, which was to become the prototype for similar manifestoes in other states as well as, eventually, for the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

It must have cheered Jefferson to see that prominent among the Virginia articles was one on religious freedom. Madison was instrumental in giving that article its final and significant form when the committee proposal went before the Virginia convention on June 12, 1776. Only five years out of college at Princeton, he was already an accomplished student of constitutional law, a man cast very much in Jefferson’s mold. As he saw it, Mason’s expression of the principle of religious freedom was deficient in two respects: it allowed for continuation of a state-supported church, and it spoke of “toleration in the exercise of religion” rather than absolute freedom of conscience. Recognizing that it was not quite time to push for disestablishment in Virginia, Madison let that go, but proposed a rewording that would move forward from the idea of mere toleration (which implied the right of the state either to grant or withhold religious freedom) to that of freedom of conscience as an unalienable natural right. The convention was not willing to go quite that far, but, in its permanent form, the article pronounced that “all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.” It was a quiet yet important triumph in the struggle for complete liberty of thought in America.

When he began to become well acquainted with Madison, in the summer of 1779, Jefferson was fresh from a half-successful effort to abolish state sanction of religion in Virginia. Government salaries for Anglican ministers had been suspended, but their church was still functioning as the official one in the state, and other impediments to religious liberty persisted. It was impossible to be legally married, for example, unless the ceremony was performed by an Anglican clergyman, and heresy against the Christian faith was still a crime. Jefferson’s comprehensive “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” would have swept aside all such restrictions, as well as forbidding government support of any church. But it ran into fierce opposition in the Virginia legislature when it was introduced in June, 1779, and failed to pass.

Nevertheless, the Bill for Religious Freedom must have exerted a strong attractive force between Jefferson and Madison. They were now often in close consultation, Jefferson as newly elected governor, Madison as a member of his executive council their personal friendship was also growing fast. Although Madison had been, from his college days, more skeptical and less orthodox than he has been painted by many biographers, his commitment to absolute freedom of thought as the undergirding of a free society was henceforth more intense. By the time Jefferson left for France, Madison was well prepared to carry on their campaign not only in Virginia, but in the first Congress, to which he would go as a representative in 1789.

In Virginia, Madison’s skill finally brought victory for Jefferson’s disestablishment bill, but not without a tough running battle against an opposition headed by the redoubtable Patrick Henry. By 1784 the state Anglican hierarchy was vociferously pressing for new tax funds to support the church, and Henry proposed an annual assessment for “the support of the Christian religion or of some Christian church,” without naming any particular sect. This attempted shift from the traditional, single-church form of establishment to the multiple, embracing several denominations, was part of a trend now apparent in more than one of the states of the new nation. It was a type of defensive strategy which would continue for nearly two centuries, as efforts to retain government sanction for religion moved to an ever broader and less sectarian base. In Virginia in 1784 the Presbyterians, hitherto enemies of establishment, now joined the phalanx demanding it in the broader form. They seemed as ready, Madison noted to his friend James Monroe, “to set up an establishment which is to take them in as they were to pull down that which shut them out.”

Meanwhile, Madison was by no means impotent on the other side of the issue. He anonymously wrote his now famous “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” (1785), which was circulated wide and far in Virginia as a petition to which thousands signed their names in protest against the renewed prospect of religious establishment. As copy after copy of the petition, crowded with signatures, streamed into the Virginia Assembly, it became very clear that the majority of the people were in no mood to forsake the religious freedom they had been promised by the 1776 Declaration of Rights. The surprised proponents of the assessment bill never even bothered to bring it to a vote.

Madison’s “Remonstrance” was a piece of shrewd political propaganda. It struck a chord more in harmony with the orthodox Christianity of those to whom it was addressed than his private views might have sustained, yet it echoed the rationalist strain of his religious discussions with Jefferson.

In fifteen paragraphs, many of them harking back to the popular article on religion in the 1776 Declaration of Rights, he argued against government support of the church. Every man’s religion, he wrote, must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right … because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds, cannot follow the dictates of other men.… We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society, and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.… Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? … Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess, and to observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny an equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us.…

It is noteworthy, since it bears on the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution, that to Madison and the thousands of Virginians who signed his petition, “establishment of religion” meant any government sponsorship of any or all religions, and not just the European pattern of an exclusive, official state church. (The “Remonstrance” refers repeatedly to Henry’s general assessment bill as “the proposed establishment.”) They wanted a solid “wall of separation between church and state,” to use a phrase Jefferson invented later. Acting on the theory that a good time to dispatch an enemy was when he was on the run, Madison and his friends in the legislature now took Jefferson’s Bill for Religious Liberty off the shelf where it had seasoned since 1779, and this time saw it voted in by a substantial majority. In principle it was a twin to Madison’s “Remonstrance,” but even more trenchant in its rhetoric and forthright in its defense of absolute freedom of thought and expression —a forerunner, as well as, in a sense, an interpretation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

A last-minute effort by the opposition to confine the benefits of the law to Christians instead of protecting even (as Jefferson noted) “the Infidel of every denomination,” failed. Early in 1786, Madison was able to send his friend the news that through their collaboration the most sweeping guarantee of freedom of conscience in the history of the western world had become a statute of Virginia. He felt that its provisions, he wrote Jefferson, “have in this country extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind.” Fervently sharing this sentiment, Jefferson saw to it that the new statute was translated into French and Italian, widely published, and “inserted in the new Encyclopedie.” He reported “infinite approbation in Europe.”

The example of Virginia—by far the largest of the thirteen states in population, and home of a cluster of distinguished men headed by the revered Washington—could hardly be ignored in the rest of America. The winds of revolution already had blown away much restrictive custom and legislation by 1786. Most of the other states had recently passed bills of rights honoring religious freedom, even though, with the exception of Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York, they still had church establishment in at least the multiple form, embracing several sects. It was to be a number of years before any of them matched Virginia, yet it was natural that her action greatly strengthened the general current toward increased freedom of thought and an accompanying separation of church and state.

But it was to be almost by accident that the question of religious freedom first arose at the national level. The Constitutional Convention, gathering at Philadelphia in the spring of 1787, ignored it for many weeks—not because it was felt to be unimportant, but because it was considered the business of the states rather than of the central government. But as a hot August steamed into a hot September, it became obvious that the federal machinery designed by men like Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Roger Sherman was far more powerful than the old Articles of Confederation. What about the rights of the people under such a government? They ought to be, asserted George Mason, “the pole star of political conduct.” The state governments were, in 1787, the guardians of those rights but the new Constitution greatly reduced the power of the states. With Mason at the center, a small nucleus of delegates began to agitate for specific guarantees, to be built into the Constitution itself. Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, urged a ban on religious tests for federal officeholders, and the Convention—thinking, no doubt, of their own wide spread of religious opinion—quickly adopted it (Article VI).

Still, the movement for a full bill of rights, similar to those prevailing in a majority of the states, found little support. Mason was deeply disturbed, and announced that he would “sooner chop off his right hand than put it to the Constitution as it now stands.” But Roger Sherman expressed the more general feeling when he said that “the State Declarations of Rights are not repealed by this Constitution and being in force are sufficient.” The tired delegates brought the Convention to a close on September 17, 1787, and the Constitution was submitted to the states without a bill of rights. Mason did not chop off his hand, but he did quit the Convention without signing.

As the contest over ratification swung back and forth in the various state legislatures during 1787–88, the federalists were forced to admit that a compromise was in order. From New England to Georgia there was intense pressure for a national bill of rights as a condition of ratification. Some federalists at first viewed this as nothing but camouflage for an attempt to frustrate ratification altogether. Alexander Hamilton was angry and contemptuous. It was the plan of the antifederalists, he declared, “to frighten the people with ideal bugbears, in order to mould them to their own purposes. The unceasing cry of these designing croakers is, My friends, your liberty is invaded!” Washington, choosing somewhat milder language, was inclined to agree.

There doubtless was some basis for this opinion yet it became more and more difficult to hold it unequivocally. Pamphlets and newspaper articles sprouted on both sides of the question, but the antifederalist clamor for a bill of rights clearly had a grass-roots origin. The issue of religious freedom, while not at this time an agitated question, drew some attention. As a committee of Baptist leaders in Virginia saw it, the new Constitution did not make “sufficient provision for the secure enjoyment of religious liberty” and an imaginative antifederalist writer in Massachusetts complained that although there was no guarantee of freedom of conscience for the people, the ban on religious tests might result in the election of a Mohammedan President.

Concern over individual liberty, of course, was by no means the exclusive property of antifederalists. Indeed, there were many on the other side (including Madison and Jefferson, both of whom must be counted as federalists at this early stage) who were as deeply devoted to liberty as anyone in the antifederalist ranks. Madison had been somewhat wary of a federal bill of rights for fear that specifying what the central government might not infringe would imply that it could suppress other rights, not enumerated. But reconsideration plus advice from Jefferson changed his mind and numerous other important federalists finally conceded the expedience if not the need of such a bill. The upshot was that as the state conventions one by one ratified the Constitution, most of them did so with a strong recommendation for the addition of protective amendments. Madison found himself, in March of 1789, setting out from Virginia as a representative to the First Congress, pledged to introduce a large batch of amendments. Among them were, in substance, the ten that now make up the Bill of Rights.

With long congressional debates developing over such urgent matters as new revenue laws, and such intriguing ones as whether the Chief Executive should be called “His Highness” or just “the President,” it was June before Madison was able to get any action on the proposed amendments. Even then there was some reluctance to discuss a national bill of rights in preference to questions of greater sectional interest, and he was obliged to lecture his House colleagues on what their constituents expected of them—particularly “those safeguards which they have been long accustomed to have interposed between them and the magistrate who exercises the sovereign power.” He then presented his list of amendments and gave a long speech defending them. One prophetic point he made was in the form of a quotation from Jefferson saying that the federal courts would “consider themselves in a peculiar manner the guardians of those rights” stipulated in such amendments to the Constitution.

The congressional history of Madison’s amendment on religion throws some interesting illumination on the question of just what it meant in its final form, when after much rewording it became part of the First Amendment. He first introduced it as, “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, abridged.” Against the background of the Jefferson-Madison view of religion in its relation to democratic government, the emphasis here is unmistakable. It goes straight to what they conceived to be the heart of the matter: absolute freedom of thought for the individual citizen without government pressure toward any system of belief whatever. It seems likely that, had Madison’s original wording been adopted, official sanction for even the vague theism suggested by the motto first engraved on United States coins in 1864 (“In God We Trust”), or by the interpolation in 1954 of “under God” in the national oath of allegiance, would have been considered unconstitutional. (Both resulted from acts of Congress.) Certainly his wording would have buttressed the recent Supreme Court decision against the devotional use of prayers or Bible reading in public schools. Whether it would have thrown light on other controversial church-state issues—for example the payment of chaplains for service in the armed forces--is more problematical.

There is no doubt, however, where Madison and Jefferson stood when it came to practical applications. They were meticulous. In 1789 Madison opposed (unsuccessfully) the appointment of official chaplains for Congress because “these are to be paid out of the national taxes” and Jefferson, as President, refused to follow the practice of Washington and Adams in proclaiming certain days for religious observance (“I do not believe,” he explained, “it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines.… Fasting and prayer are religious exercises the enjoining them an act of discipline …”). To Madison and Jefferson and their followers the word “establish” meant what it had in Virginia: any government support, by taxation or otherwise, of any religious program.

Madison’s original amendment on religion, however, was soon altered. It was referred to a committee of which he was vice-chairman, and evidently caused much discussion—although no exact committee records, unfortunately, were kept. On August 15, 1789, the House as a whole took up the question, considering it in a shorter and less explicit form (“No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed”). Although this wording was less forthright, some members were apprehensive of its effect: Peter Silvester, of New York, said that he “feared it might be thought to have a tendency to abolish religion altogether.” The amendment was sent forward to the Senate as, “Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.” There can be little question that the phrase “or to prevent the free exercise thereof” indicated a desire that the prohibition against establishment should not be interpreted as hostile to religion. The conventional forms of Christianity were still overwhelmingly in use in America, despite significant inroads by deism.

As for Madison, his own sharp focus on utter freedom of thought and expression as the essence of what is now the First Amendment is shown by his introduction, at this time, of an additional amendment specifically forbidding any state to infringe the rights of conscience, freedom of speech, and a free press. This addition was, he thought, “the most valuable on the whole list.” Somewhat surprisingly (in view of the antifederalist feeling against domination of the states by the central government), it was sustained by the House, and went to the Senate together with the article on religion and fifteen other amendments.

The twenty-two members of the Senate, which in general was more conservative than the House of Representatives, combined some of the House amendments and dropped others, including Madison’s “most valuable” one. Nevertheless, they rejected several motions to amend the House statement on religion to make it prohibit government support of “any particular denomination of religion in preference to another.” This was important, for it implied that their intent was to impose a neutral policy on the government with respect to religion in general—not merely to prevent one sect from gaining government favor at the expense of others. Such an intent was suggested further in the rewording arrived at by the Senate on September 9: “Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” Here the emphasis of “establish” leans toward the idea of government infringement on “the rights of conscience”—even though that phrase was dropped from the House version. The potential application to such matters as public school prayers, for instance, seems obvious.

Yet it was not clear that the Senate’s version of the religion clause prohibited tax support, and perhaps for that reason the House refused to accept the revision. A joint committee, with Madison as chairman of the three House members and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut as his counterpart for the Senate, then considered the difficulty—again without leaving us minutes of their discussion—and came up with the wording that has become part of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Madison could not have been pleased to see the key phrase about “the rights of conscience” abandoned—for him that clarified the basic intent of the amendment—but he was convinced that in its final form the first article of the Bill of Rights could be reasonably interpreted as prohibiting federal support of religious activities in any form.

That, as has been noted, was the way he and Jefferson interpreted it during their terms as President, and for the rest of their lives. At the same time, both of them realized that while they had led a successful campaign for separation of church and state as an essential footing in the structure of democracy, their theoretical reasons for doing so were grasped by relatively few of their countrymen. They knew their ideal was still remote: a society so free that its only ideological commitment would be to freedom of the mind. Much of the support they had been able to rally for a barrier between church and state had other sources. True, it sprang in part from a native intellectual current against absolutism which has never failed to flow in America despite counteracting currents of great force. But in part it came from the mutual and competitive mistrust of the various religious sects toward one another. Always pragmatic, Jefferson and Madison saw the value of this, despite their own rejection of revealed religion. Variety of belief was a useful insurance against tyranny.

The history of the First Amendment since 1791, when the last of the necessary eleven states ratified the federal Bill of Rights, has been one of fluctuating interpretation. This has been most notable during the last fifty years, during which, for the most part, the Supreme Court has found that the Fourteenth Amendment enjoins the guarantees of the First upon the states, for the protection of every citizen. There has been some confusion and inconsistency: schoolchildren swear allegiance to one nation “under God,” yet cannot be led in official school prayers, however nondenominational. Over a period of years, however, the trend of Court decisions has been toward strict separation of church and state, in a manner that assuredly would please Jefferson and Madison if they were here to see it. Indeed, the Justices have shown a strong penchant for citing these champions of freedom in explaining and supporting recent Court decisions.

There is nothing sacred about the reasoning of any of our ancestors, on this or any other matter. But whether one agrees with Jefferson and Madison or not, with regard to how high and impassable the wall between church and state ought to stand in a free society, they deserve to be remembered and understood, as the two among the Founding Fathers who devoted more of their minds and lives to this great problem than anyone else. They were an intellectual avant-garde whose probing of the relationship between religion and democracy went beyond the more or less traditional attitudes of most Americans between 1776 and 1791. Yet they were the center of a high-pressure area in the climate of opinion of their time, and their conclusions were strongly reflected in the Constitution as it finally was adopted.

Their thinking, moreover, can be fairly understood only as emerging from the matrix of the Enlightenment, of which—with such men as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, James Monroe, and even George Washington and John Adams—they were indubitably the intellectual offspring. The impact of “natural religion” on the genesis of democratic liberty, through their influence, has too often been ignored.

Writing to Dr. Benjamin Rush in 1800, shortly before he became President, Jefferson alleged certain clerical “schemes” to breach the religion clause of the First Amendment. He would oppose them with all his power, he said, “for I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” It was “Nature’s God” that he was thinking of and for that vow above all others the altar was not to be found, he believed, within the limits of any dogmatic creed.


What were the American Founding Fathers views on Universal Suffrage?

After reading the constitution it struck me that nowhere in the text does it address voting. It only states that the electoral college of each state shall choose what candidate their state will support in that candidates bid for the presidency. It seems like a republic, rather than anything resembling a democracy, was what the founding fathers had in mind. Is this an accurate view? If so how did the current state of affairs come to fruition?

Generally the overwhelming majority was against universal white male sufferage with a few exceptions at the founding. Starting in 1807 movements began at the state level to bring wider white male sufferage to the population. By 1852 this had been essentially achieved in all states but South Carolina. Howver what I find interesting, and what most historians ignore is the founders opinions on these new state constitutions to which they often partook. I haven't examined most of the state conventions in depth but several of the North Eastern state foudning fathers expressed support for wider sufferage at their state constituonal conventions. The three big name founders who attended a state constituional convention were Madison,Marshall, and Monroe to the Virginia state constitution in 1829. Monroe was elected President of the convention, reflecting his continung high popularity among Americans. Intially both Madison and Monroe remained in favor of tying voting to a certain amount of property, Monroe fearing that without tying voting to property it "it would be like a ship tossing around in a storm". When western Virginians threatened to secedde if the Tidewater aristocracy didn't agree to more demands, Monroe opted to adopt a more progressive position on sufferage in an attempt to compromise.

Albert Gallatain also eventually endorsed white male sufferage, although some might not consider him a founder.

Apoligies for typos on phone.

Double edit: the founders did not want a democracy as they understood it, they wanted a Republic. Although within many of their lifetimes states would switch to having electors elected by popular vote rather then the state legislature. Of course the term founding father has a wide number of definitions, the broader the definition the more people you can find for broader sufferage( such as Thomas Paine)


Conclusión

I’ve read a huge number of books about the Founding Fathers and early America. While I know that I still have much to learn, I also know that Americans must defend the Founding Fathers. Remembering what they did, as President Trump’s 1776 Commission will help us do, is not enough. We must also defend them from the attacks launched against them.

The fact is, the left hates Western civilization and wants to eradicate the memory of the Founding Brothers. They tear down statues, demand paintings and murals be hidden, and besmirch the names of the great men who built this nation and made it what it is.

Conservatives have a duty to defend the Founding Fathers. It is only with their memory in mind that we can continue to preserve the nation that they built. But to be able to know what they did, we must first defend them so that the left can’t eradicate their memory. That is why I think it is important to defend them and why simply stating what they did is not enough.

By: Gen Z Conservative. Follow me on Parler, Gab, and Facebook

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