Last week, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois slammed President Trump for using the term, “chain migration.” Like any good Leftist, Durbin never misses the opportunity, no matter how shallow and silly, to exploit racial cracks in our society. He asserted that chain migration conjured images of the white man’s past enslavement of blacks.
I will take Durbin’s bait, but look at slavery from the viewpoint of our Founding generation.
Beginning in the 1640s, chattel slavery in English North America eased an agricultural labor shortage in the mid and southern colonies. While slavery was necessary to economic well-being, everyone recognized the evil, including the leading lights of our Revolution. The open display of abject slavery, of men in chains, explains in part the sensitivity of colonial Americans to their own condition. Unlike the subjects of kingdoms in mainland Europe, whose condition often resembled that of serfs, Englishmen proudly boasted of their hard-won liberty from the authoritarian Stuart monarchs of the 17th Century.
Englishmen in England never saw black slavery. With labor always in excess, no monarch dreamed of introducing it. But, to the American Englishman, slavery was endemic. Modern historians long believed the repetitive reference in colonial literature to impending bondage through nefarious plots hatched in England and put into motion by royal governors were gross exaggerations. Yes, there was tension over the right to colonial self-government v. the power of the King-in-Parliament, but most 20th century historians scoffed at the notion American colonists feared the mainland European serfdom sort of slavery under an absolute monarch.
Where liberty is to live on one’s own terms, slavery is to live at the mercy of another. Colonials knew the loss of attachment to a free constitution plunged Rome from the summit of her glory into the black gulf of infamy and slavery. Tyrannical governments reduce the people to a kind of slaves to the ministers of state.1
The writings of our Founding generation are loaded with references to slavery. For instance, to the extent that Americans were taxed without their consent, made for, said John Adams, “the most abject sort of slaves.” One newspaper in 1747 described slavery as “a force put upon human nature, by which a man is obliged to act, or not to act, according to the arbitrary will and pleasure of another.”2
In this sense, “slavery” wasn’t hyperbole; it was a political condition, a condition characteristic of the lives of contemporary Frenchmen, Danes, Swedes, Turks, Russians, and Poles. And it applied equally to the black plantation slaves in America, for their condition was only a more dramatic and abject condition of all who had lost the power of self-determination.3
There is no such thing as partial liberty; anyone bound to obey the will of another is a slave. As King George III increasingly exercised an arbitrary will that he daren’t use in England, the contradiction between the proclaimed principles of British freedom and the facts of colonial life and governance grew apparent.4 Where the miserable plantation slave deserved pity, those who silently stood by as a distant monarch slowly extinguished their liberty deserved nothing but contempt.5
The Fairfax Resolves of July 18th, 1774 are early evidence that George Washington, George Mason, and much of Virginia sought to avoid the contempt of history. They wished to remain subjects of the British Empire, but they insisted that “we will use every means which Heaven hath given us to prevent our becoming its slaves. That the claim . . . by the British Parliament for making all such laws as they think fit to govern the . . . Colonies, . . . is incompatible with the privileges of a free people and the natural rights of mankind, (and) will render our own Legislatures merely nominal and nugatory. (It) is calculated to reduce us from a state of freedom and happiness to slavery and misery.”
Consider the plight of Christian bakers forced by law to enter contracts, contracts to design and adorn their artistic creations per the instructions of those with whom they would rather not do business. What of the Deep State coup d’état? While much remains unknown, what is clear is that Deep State operatives sought to deny the people their Article II § 1 President and to surreptitiously install one of their own. Had it succeeded, We the People would forever remain unaware that successive Leftist Presidents, like oriental despots of old, installed their successors.
Where Dick Durbin’s demagoguery inflames irrational passions, the fears of our Founding era are just as applicable today as they were then. Slavery need not mean chains; more broadly, it is the absence of liberty. We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Government is the playground of politicians, but the Constitution is ours. Be proactive. Restore the American Tradition. Join Convention of States.
1. Bailyn, B. (1992). The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 232.
Trenchard, J., & Gordon, T. (1995). Cato’s Letters: Or, Essays on Liberty, Civil and Religious, And other Important Subjects. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, Inc. 430.
2. Bailyn., 233.
3. Bailyn., 234.
4. A central feature of our Declaration of Independence is the twenty-seven indictments of King George III for his “Direct Object, the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these states.”
5. Bailyn., 234.