Foundations Of Freedom – Did The Founders Set Up A Systemically Racist Country?  Do definitions and context matter in attempting to truly understand history? What is meant by “systemic racism?” Did the Founders truly believe that “all men are created equal?” Tune in to hear the important answers to these timely questions.

Air Date: 07/23/2020

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Power Is Inherent in the People

Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our States and of the United States assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves. That is their right and duty to be at all times armed, that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property and freedom of press.”

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. And when we say intersection of faith and the culture, it means we want to make sure our faith is impacting the culture. They do sometimes collide, in fact, especially when the culture is headed to where it is right now. Our faith has got to inform us. A biblical worldview has got to be what drives our position on the issue.

So that’s why we hear WallBuilders talk about having a biblical, historical and constant Additional perspective on whatever the hot issue is of the day. And we love for you to ask questions about what those issues are of the day and how to apply that perspective.

Maybe there’s a particular thing you’re thinking about today and you want to really look back and say, what can I learn from history about that? Or, what does the constitution say about that? And most importantly, what’s the Bible say about it? Well, that’s what we do here at WallBuilders Live. Check out our website today, wallbuilderslive.com, it’ll tell you a little bit about us that hosts the program.

I’m Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s constitution coach. David Barton is with us. He’s America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. And Tim Barton is with us, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. Today is Thursday, so it’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday around here at WallBuilders. That means you get to ask the questions and we dive into those foundational principles to answer those questions. So, send your questions into radio@wallbuilders.com. That’s radio@wallbuilders.com.

Systemic Racism

Alright, David. Tim, let’s dive into those questions. First one is coming from Tim Schneider. And the questions about systemic racism. He said, “WallBuilders, I hope the day find you doing well? I want to know your thoughts on a statement that I heard by a fellow conservative Christian commentator concerning the topic of systemic racism. The quote said, “Now, taking it back to the issue of structural or systemic racism, do you see that?

Well, we certainly have through much of American history, you certainly see it in the founding, even in the Constitution’s allowance for race based chattel slavery in the United States for human beings don’t own other human beings, and the definition of black people in the United States as less human than non-black people in the very same country. You see it throughout the history, not only of slavery, but of segregation and race-based discrimination, but even in more recent years, you see it in economic policies.””

So that definitely is the quote that Tim had heard. And then he said, “You can feel free to comment on the whole quote. But the part I’d like you to focus on is where it says a systemic racism was evident in the founding of America and within the Constitution. From your knowledge of history, do you see it that way? Thanks for your commentary on this. Keep up the great work.”

Okay, guys, that was long quote, a lot of stuff in there. So, you pick where you want to key on the several parts of what he said about the Constitution we obviously want to cover. But where do you want to start?

David:

Well, I’m going to start with how we define systemic racism. And I’m going to do it by giving an example from the construction world. When I was doing construction work and building houses, we used 25-foot tape measures and that would cover most of what we needed in house. We also use 200-foot tape measures when we’re laying out foundations, etc. However, when you’re building skyscrapers, you’re not working off 25-foot tape measures, you’re working off much longer tape measures. Or if you’re an engineer and you’re using a micrometer, we’re getting down into thousandths of an inch.

So, if you’re going to talk systemic racism, I didn’t know what measurement you’re using? Are we looking at the measurement of miles, miles and measurements, that’s where you measure States or acres? Are you looking at micrometers?

What Standard of Measurement Are We Using?

And the reason is when we’re talking about America having institutional racism, let’s point out that there’s still 94 nations in the world where slavery is legal. Now, that would seem to be systemic racism. Are we comparing ourselves to them? Are we using micrometers?

Now, I think the way you measure and what you’re used to measure by makes all the difference in how you answer this question. And I know we’re hearing systemic racism everywhere. But it’s like compared to what? And that question has to be answered.

Tim:

Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of a mixed bag in the sense that we live in a culture that constantly changes the definition of words. And when we hear systemic racism or institutional racism or systematic racism, there’s a lot of different meaning applied to it. And essentially, it means that the system was racist, the institution was racist.

And I don’t know that you can make a super valid argument for that even at the time of the Founding Fathers. When you look at the fact that the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were themselves anti- slavery, that they fight against slavery, I don’t think you could argue the old racist positions for the majority of them

David:

And by way, the answer to the obvious question, well, then why didn’t they end it? Because under the British system that had been set up, they weren’t allowed to. They fought against the system, they finally got control of it. But even under that system, they were still fighting a constitutional system that didn’t give them that option.

Tim:

And this is why in the Declaration when they’re listing their grievances that they’re going to use to separate from the king, they’re kind of showing the world this is the problems we have with the king. Jefferson is one of the five guys shows in the drafted Declaration. He’s the guy put in charge. And the committee of five, they say, hey, you know, Jefferson, why don’t you take care of this? So, he’s the guy that actually writes a Declaration.

And one of the agreements is his original draft and you can get online and see this, he talks about how they’ve tried to end slavery in their colonies and the king is struck down those laws and the king has imposed this on them and the king has kept the slave trade alive. And so, Jefferson gets into some of these details about this.

Grievances in the Declaration

And as he is explaining this, he finally finishes the draft. You have guys like Adams and Franklin, who were there, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were there with him in the committee. They had a few edits, but then it goes to the floor. And when it goes to the floor, Jefferson says that much to his disappointment, that this one grievance about slavery was taken out. Because two states, South Carolina and Georgia both said that wasn’t a grievance that was relevant for them because they hadn’t tried to end slavery in their states and they thought it was fine, so they did thing that should be included.

Well, John Hancock pointed out, and he was the president of Congress at the time, John Hancock pointed out that they were only going to include the grievance that everybody agreed on, which is why Jefferson said it made him very sad that South Carolina and Georgia wouldn’t include that grievance because they wanted to end slavery, but those two states apparently didn’t.

The reason all of these matters is that looking back to say that these guys instituted systemic racism is a very bad read of history on top of the fact that these guys were breaking off from a system. There was systemic racism throughout the world, although really, it wasn’t as much racism necessarily in the sense that the color of skin as it was kind of the nation you were a part of, is a conquest era.

And so, you would conquer other nations and then you rule other nations. And as you rule those other nations, there’s only two options. You enslave people or you kill people. And that was kind of the way of the world, that wasn’t the way of America.

America broke off to do something different than what the rest of the world was doing. To imply that America was systemically racist because there was slavery in America, you have to argue that that was true for everywhere in the world then, because everywhere in the world, that’s slavery and America is one of the first nations to break away and do something different. W

hich even leading up to the time when Great Britain finally ends slavery in 1833, right, William Wilberforce, incredible leader, he does a lot of great stuff., he is certainly a champion when it comes to human rights history. Great Christian guy to look and see how God used him in this cool way.

Even before Wilberforce helps lead England or Great Britain to a place where they abolished slavery, every single northern colony in America had already abolished slavery before England did. So, you can say America didn’t abolish slavery. That’s true. But every northern colony in America had to abolish slavery even before England did. Again, we’re buying into even this conservative commentator, I don’t know who it is and maybe there’s more context than what we’ve heard in this comment.

Historical Context is Important

But certainly, that comment seems to be off, because it would be an impugning America for the crime that everybody else in the world was doing along with America, instead of saying, look, this was an evil that everybody participated in. But America was different, because we helped to absolve ourselves of that, in that to go a different direction than the rest of the world. So, I won’t have issue with just the way it’s being presented because it does seem to take things out of context. It doesn’t compare with the rest of the world, which would give it the context of what’s going on. And it buys into the false narrative that the Founding Fathers were generally racist people, which for the majority of them, they weren’t.

David:

And you take the concept of measurement again. Not only we’re looking at different measurements, because we’re judging America with a micrometer when the rest of the world is out using acres and miles. So, we’re looking at micro things here, but also the measurement of even time. We act today as if the fight for equality is something that’s happened in the 5,500 years of recorded history. That’s not true.

America was the first nation in the world to pass a law against the slave trade and that was an 1807. And you go, wait a minute, 1807, that’s like 200 years ago. That’s the first law in the world against the slave trade? Yeah. And as Tim pointed out, 1833, is the first nation to end slavery and 1865, we’re the fourth nation. So, we’re talking 150 years that these fights has been going on. It’s not like we’re at the back of the pack.

Tim:

And just offer a point of clarity. So, Thomas Jefferson was the president when that anti-slave trade was law was signed 1807. Technically, it didn’t take effect until January 1st 1808. And at that point, Great Britain signed an anti-slave trade law also in 1807, signed it after Jefferson, but it went into operation before Americas. So, they claim to be the first nation to abolish the slave trade, although their law allowed that if ships leave port before a certain date, and they’re at sea for several months and they still have slaves and they arrive, they won’t be penalized for having slaves, but then they have to stop it.

America, we said no, everybody stops right now. So technically, America did sign the law first, it went into operation second. But when ours went into operation, it ended at totally. Great Britain went into operation first, but it didn’t quite ended all the way. So really, I mean, I know we’re kind of in the weeds and nuance here, but America still is one of the leading nations, arguably the first maybe the second, but arguably the first nation in the slave trade. We were the fourth nation to end slavery total in the world. At that time, there’s 128 nations in the world.

How Many Countries Still Allow Slavery?

And dad, as you pointed out, there’s 94 nations currently today that do not have anti-slavery laws on the books. So, it’s just we’re missing a lot of context with that statement. And it’s kind of almost like just buying in, acquiescing to the modern narrative. That sure, America was bad then, but we’re not there anymore. And that’s certainly true in some regards, that America has done bad things in our past and that’s not always who we are anymore today. Doesn’t define us who we are today.

But even the notion of what we did bad in the past, when you study history in context, you realize that even though America certainly made a lot of mistakes along the way, America made fewer mistakes and arguably fixed her mistakes a lot sooner than most nations in the world.

David:

And also, looking at the context of the world, Tim, as we’ve mentioned 94 nations, the group that keeps track of world slavery, world racism, etc, they point out that America is the second best nation in the world in fighting slavery and racism even today. They point out that only the Netherlands does more than America does. So, of 195 nations, we’re number two in the world and we’re the ones that are getting the accusation of being so racist. And so, oh my gosh!

And so, when you look at the measurements out there, we need to stop using a measurement that tries to make America different from the rest of the world or independent from the rest of the world. I mean, use the standard. And the standard is America is so far ahead of the rest of the world on issues like this. Still got ground to cover? Sure. Nobody’s perfect, so there always be ground to cover. But compared to where the other nations are, we’re so far ahead that this should not even be a discussion.  

Rick:

Quick break. Guys, when we come back, let’s stay with this guy’s question, because I want you to address the issue of the definition of black people being less than human. People get that from the three-fifths clause, let’s give a little context on that and what it actually was doing. Stay with us, folks, we’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders live on Foundations of Freedom Thursday.  

Patriot Academy

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And you got to go to patriotacademy.com today and get signed up. The deadline is just a few days away. So, get signed up today and it’s a virtual Patriot Academy. But even right there in Zoom, they’ll have House floor sessions, committee sessions. They’ll learn the legislative process. They’ll learn a biblical worldview of government. They’ll learn a Founding Fathers philosophy of government jurisdictions. They will help restore America’s constitutional republic.

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Worth Defending

Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country and the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending against all hazards and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, it’s Foundation of Freedom Thursday today, taking your questions, you can send those into radio@wallbuilders.com. And David, Tim, we’re still on our first question, which sometimes we get a really good question, it takes a big chunk of the program. But our second question ties back to something that Tim asked in the first question. He was asking about this commentator saying that the constitution defined people different and made black people less of a human than non-black people. Our next question ties into that.

Holly asked, “Hey, guys, I love the work you do. I recently heard someone say that when the founder said all men are created equal, they were not referring to all people of every color and we’re talking about women who couldn’t vote at the time, could this claim be true?” So, you know, kind of tossing those together. Because I think what a lot of them are referring to, not only the Declarations phrase about all men being created equal, but also the three-fifths clause in the Constitution is what people tend to point to, to say that the founders valued blacks as only three- fifths of a human.

David:

Yeah, that’s a notion that’s been out there for a long time by those who want to discredit America or those who don’t read the Constitution well. If you read the Constitution well, you’ll find that the three-fifths clause was an anti-slavery clause. If you read the debates concerning the passage of that clause in the Constitution, it was the northern States who argued for the three-fifths clause in order to give the slave States less representation in Congress. Had nothing to do with the worth of the individual. It had to do with representation.

The Three-Fifths Clause

Tim:

Which means the anti-slavery and abolition people are the ones who are arguing against the South having full representation because it was going to strengthen their delegation in Congress, is going to give them more power, more voting more influence, which means it was going to extend slavery. And they said, no, no, you’re not giving these slaves rights as individuals, you’re not giving them the right to vote, you’re not giving them freedom and yet you’re going to use them against you.

As Northerners, they were looking down to say, now guys, you in the South call them your property. But if we’re going to include property, does that mean I get to include my cows and my horses and my forks and my spoons, because that’s what I would consider property? And if you consider those black slaves property, well, then maybe we all count our property. And so, this argument goes back and forth.

But it was the anti-slavery guys who worked the compromise to make sure the South couldn’t get full representation for all the black slaves, not because they didn’t believe they were worthy of being counted as a full person, but rather, because they didn’t want to give the South more power to promote and extend slavery beyond what they already had.

David:

And the way it would work is very simple. The Constitution said, for every 30,000 people in your State, you get one representative to the US House of Representatives. So, in Georgia and South Carolina, they had more black slaves than they had white free, so they would count all those black slaves. And now they’re doubling their representation to Congress or getting more pro- slavery reps to Congress.

Because guarantee you, coming out of Georgia and South Carolina, when they count their slaves, the people they would elect on the basis of the slave population are not going there to free slaves, they’re going there to keep these people enslaved. So, you’re looking at pro-slavery people coming out of the South. So, the people in North said, no, no, you’re welcome to count all of those that are voters. If you want to count all the white folks and that’s all you’re letting vote, then that’s who you get to represent. But you don’t get to count slaves in that.

Really an Anti-Slavery Clause

And so, by requiring that, they came up with the Three-Fifths Compromise. They said, okay, in the States where you have slavery, it now takes you 50,000 people before you get a rep to Congress. Everybody else, free states is 30,000. So, what we’re doing is limiting your pro-slavery representation in Congress.

And by the way, obviously, that clause of the Constitution is not the same today. Because if we were still electing a representative for every 30,000 people, right now, the House of Representatives would have 10,567 members of Congress. So, we changed that a number of years ago, to say that let’s just hold at 435 members of Congress and then however many people that is. And right now, that’s about 800,000 people to a congressional district.

But back in the day, the three-fifths clause had nothing to do with the worth of individuals. It had everything to do with limiting the power of the pro-slavery representation in Congress. And so, this is an anti-slavery clause that recognized the equality of blacks and said, we’re not going to let you use black slaves to increase your pro-slavery power. So, this was done by the anti- slavery people. Now, the other thing is significant.

And going to the question you just asked, Rick, at the top of this segment, it stems again from that assumption of institutional racism. That when Jefferson wrote the word, men, he was thinking only about white people. Therefore, all they were excluding was white women from voting. But as Tim pointed out in the first segment, when Jefferson wrote, ‘men’ in that clause, he used the phrase, ‘men’, it was talking about slaves. It was talking they are men, they are equal men.

So, it clearly was not a white only view of the Declaration when they wrote it. I mean, that very clause itself disproves that. And so, this is another one of the myths that’s out there about institutional racism is that the founding fathers were only white-minded. Oh my gosh! We talked in previous program a week or so ago, how then in 1793, John Hancock hosted an Equality Ball in Massachusetts, blacks and whites are equal and it was called the Equality Ball. And that was, they understood that.

The Spirit of the Law

Now, the reason that women didn’t have the right to vote and by the way, women could vote in many States, but it was a situational kind of thing, your property owner, whatever. It wasn’t because they thought women were less, a matter of fact, they held a different position. They actually held women in higher esteem than they did men. And therefore, the laws, you look at the laws, they did lots of laws to protect women from things that you would never think about protecting the man from.

So, they really kind of held that biblical view that women while they are equal in worth, they are weaker vessels. And that’s the biblical language for that. And therefore, you give them greater respect, which is what the Bible says. And so, they tried to protect women much higher in their laws than we even do today. And that wasn’t because they considered them have less worth or inequality. Biblically, they knew they were equal, they just considered them a weaker vessel and did more to protect them.

So, even the view that’s expressed in the systemic racism is not that white men were greater than white women and whites were greater than blacks, that’s just not what’s there in the records. That is today’s people impugning motives backwards to a generation that did not have those motives. Now, there were some in that generation that did, but those that pass the laws, the majority, in other words, did not have the view that’s being expressed today that these critics claim they have.  

“Handgun Defense by day, Constitutional Knowledge by night.”

Rick:

Quick break, guys, we’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live, it’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday.  

Hey friends, Rick Green here. I know there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in America right now, but we know God is sovereign. We also know that “duty is ours, results are God’s”. And that means we do our duty. You know, Proverbs 22:3 says “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions, the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

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President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think they’re not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders Live, Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. There’s more of these types of questions on our website in those Thursday programs if you go to wallbuilderslive.com.

Frederick Douglass’ Thoughts on the Constitution

David, as you were answering that and describing the three-fifths clause, I couldn’t help but think about Frederick Douglass, who I think initially, if I remember right, had the same initial reading of the three-fifths clause, but then when he dug deeper came to the exact same conclusion that you just mentioned and here’s the one of the greatest abolitionists in American history. This guy was born into slavery, had a phenomenal impact on the country. Walk us through a little bit of his discovery of that. Because even he’s being maligned by these Leftists today. They even tore down one of his statues.

David:

Yeah, it’s really weird the way the Leftists are doing it. I’m reminded of the Bible verse that says, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” And the more they claim to know and the more that many academics claim to know and it’s really academics that’s leading so much of this Leftist lane. It’s academics that are stirring this up. Talking about intersectionality and institutional racism and all the stuff that we hear that these protesters are chanting and doing. They’re picking this up from academia.

And so, these guys literally do really represent in many ways what the Bible says. They claim to be wise. They’ve got PhDs and they know less about the country than anybody ever before. I mean, they’re making stuff up and they’re not having documentation for what they prove. They just make claims, because that’s what they feel. It’s crazy stuff.

And so that was really kind of what Frederick Douglass faced in his day. When he escaped from slavery in Maryland, he ended up in in New York. And up in New York, he studied at the feet of radical abolitionist who said the Constitution is entirely, it’s a tainted document. It is a terrible document, we’ve got to get rid of the Constitution. And these were white radicals like Garrett Smith and others who said that the Constitution is totally painted and flawed. It is pro-slavery in all of his clauses. And this is what Frederick Douglass said that he believed.

But then he was hired by the Massachusetts anti-slavery society to go speak against slavery and they hired him as a full-time speaker. And to his credit, to his intellectual honesty, he said, you know, before I talked about the Constitution, I decided I really ought to read it.

And so, he read the Constitution. He said, it was really shocking for him because rather than finding that it was a pro-slavery document, he said, he found that in every clause, it was an anti-slavery document; that every clause even the three-fifths clause was an attempt to limit slavery and to weaken slavery, and to undermine slavery.

Be like the Bereans

And so, he said when he actually studied the document, he found it to be just the opposite of what these white radicals had been telling him. And so, that’s really a good word for today quite frankly. Is we get told all this stuff by the PhDs and by the experts about what the Founding Fathers thought and what they believe and what the Constitution is all about and institutional racism.

And if you take the time to actually go study it and if you do what we were talking about in the last two segments, if you actually make comparisons to the rest of the world and quit using a tape measure that nobody else in the rest of the world will use against themself, you know, you use the tape measure that measures everybody, then you find it’s a totally different story from what we’re hearing today. And Frederick Douglass is a great example of that.

And by the way, reading his writings is really worth doing. He actually wrote three autobiographies about himself, which kind of seems strange. If you write about yourself, why would you do it three times? Well, one, he wrote when he was much younger; one, he wrote in middle age and one, he wrote an older age and he’s changed a lot across that time. And you see the changes that he makes, you see where he grows and learns and he’s been told things but he goes and checks it for himself and by the way, that’s a great trait.

Foundations Of Freedom – Did The Founders Set Up A Systemically Racist Country?

This is one of my favorite Bible verses is Acts 17:11. Because as Paul is on his second missionary journey and he’s going from town to town, Thessalonica, etc and you have to remember, Paul is the most academically credentialed Christian apostle we had at that time. He was a Jew of the Jew. He was a Pharisee. He studied at the feet of Gamaliel, the greatest teacher of the law.

He knew all of it. And he said, I love these people in Berea, because they won’t believe anything I tell them till they go check it out in the scriptures. He said, they’re the most noble, because I’m telling them this stuff and they receive it and they listen to it, but they don’t believe it until they go find it for themselves in the scriptures. And that really is the mentality we need to train in ourselves a day.

You know, I heard this on Fox News. Well, good for you, is it actually accurate? Or I heard it on CNN. Great, is it accurate? And so, this notion of going and checking the facts, which is what Frederick Douglass did, he actually went back to the documents, that makes us a very noble people if we will get back to that. And it’s something I would recommend for everybody.  

Rick:

Well, folks, we’re going to have more of your questions next Thursday on Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Thanks for joining us on this one. You can check out more of these programs, they’re all archived right there at our website wallbuilderslive.com. Thanks so much for joining us today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our States and of the United States assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves. That is their right and duty to be at all times armed, that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property and freedom of press.”