The Founders And Slavery, The American Corporation And More – On Foundations Of Freedom: Why didn’t Washington and Jefferson free their slaves sooner? What actions did Jefferson take to promote the end of slavery? Is big government necessary if people will not go along with an agenda? Are rumors that America is a British corporation really true? Tune in to hear the surprising answers to these questions and more!
Air Date: 10/21/2021
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
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.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and culture. Thanks for joining us today. We are taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. We’re doing that with David Barton. He’s America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Tim Barton with us he’s a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator, and America’s Constitution coach.
The reason we take that biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective is because that’s how you find the right answer to every issue of the day. Everything that’s alien in our culture right now, every problem in our society, the answers are in the Bible. And we can learn from history how to properly apply those principles, what works, what doesn’t work, and of course, we need to know our own Constitution so that we know how to do this properly in our particular society, our particular culture, with our particular government.
We teach all of that, by the way, in a course called Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. You can get that course at our website right now at wallbuilderslive.com, pick up the DVDs, the workbooks. You can also go to biblicalcitizens.com and sign up to be a coach and actually host the course in your living room or at your church. And many of you have joined our Monday night classes. We’ve been doing this for about a year. We’ve had a great time with this.
People from all over the nation, tens of thousands of people joining us, and we do a live class. We show the videos and then we do Q&A, David, and Tim, but we have them every once in a while. We have other special guests like Pete Heck Seth and Mark Meckler and all kinds of other folks.
By the way, starting November 8th, we’re going to do a new class and instead of doing Biblical Citizenship in Modern America, the typical eight-week class, we’re going to bring in some Foundations of Freedom programs. Now, this was a television program that we did with Carol Swain and Michelle Bachman, and others. And we’re going to go through several of those episodes and talk about what the Bible says about the law and about civil justice and competition and all these other things. It’s going to be a really fun Monday night class for six weeks, starting on November 8th. Check it out at biblicalcitizens.com. That’s the place to sign up. We would love to have you be a part of that class.
Asbury and Coke
Alright, David and Tim, our first question for today’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday comes from John in Arlington, Texas. He said “I’ve been listening to your show now for at least a couple of years. I rarely miss an episode. I’m also using your package of 20 posters for teaching a US citizenship class at my church for persons applying for US citizenship. Thank you for all the work you do.”
Now before we even get to his question, we haven’t talked about the posters at all on this program. Folks can get those at wallbuilders.com, a great collection there. Everybody should have one in your home, especially if you’re homeschooling. But frankly, we’re all homeschooling all the time, right, if we’re educating ourselves. Anyway, here we go.
He said, “I heard a preacher tell a story of two men by the name of Asbury and Coke, who apparently met with George Washington in 1785 and proposed that he sign a petition and free his slaves so that we could begin our new nation without slavery. Hadn’t heard the story before, apparently, Washington did free slaves upon he and Martha’s death.
If Washington would have signed the petition and agreed with these two men and convinced Jefferson also for his slaves, could we have possibly avoided a civil war? If Washington had the power to free the slaves earlier and was in fact opposed to slavery, why didn’t he do so? Thanks so much for taking time to answer my question.
So guys, there’s kind of a package of questions there. I guess we probably ought to start first with Asbury and Coke. I don’t know this story. So is this even a true story that he met these two people and they asked him to do this?
It is a true story. But before we talk about their role, let’s answer bigger question. The reason that Washington didn’t free a slave sooner and the reason that Jefferson and Washington didn’t get together to end slavery is they were a definite minority in their own state. In their state of Virginia, it is interesting that most of the Virginia Founding Fathers were opposed to slavery, and most of the Virginians that were not Founding Fathers, but who served in the legislature were adamant for slavery.
So Jefferson, very early on, made it known his will that he did not want slaves, he did not want slavery. When he was just, I’m going to say youngster he wasn’t quite a youngster, but really young man when he first entered the Virginia State Legislature, he said we need to end slavery. And so he got a really respected senior member of the legislature, I think is Richard Bland as I recall. But he got respect of senior member. And the two of them introduced a measure that would end slavery.
The Truth About Jefferson
And since most of the members in legislature thought they came from the senior guy Bland, they just beat the dickens out of him, just made it where that nobody ever wanted again to introduce any measure against slavery. They just literally beat him up.
So, Jefferson saw that he witnessed that, he tried that, he advocated for that he did other measures trying to end slavery. He even tried to get outside the state of Virginia. He couldn’t get it in Virginia. He went to the Continental Congress, and in 1784 tried to get a national measure to end slavery because that would have ended in Virginia. And he fell one vote short in that.
So Jefferson did a lot of things to promote the end of slavery. He was just absolutely outnumbered in the state. George Washington was also against slavery. But Virginia laws made it illegal to free your slaves except by legislative consent. So even though people say, well, slavery that’s you own in a person, yeah, maybe kind of, but not to the extent where you can decide what happens to them. I mean, if I own them, and I want to set you free, can I do that? No, not in the state of Virginia.
So yes, there are slave ownership of people, but not in the sense that you own a car, you own a house, or whatever, and you can do what you want to with it. There were laws that prohibited them from freeing that “property”. And so George Washington did free his slaves because after the revolution was over in 1781, in 1782, Virginia had a little kind of swing of opinion said hey, we’ll go ahead and let you free slaves own your death, but not during your life, just own your death, which is why Washington free the slaves in 1799. But that was kind of like a backed off for Virginia because they then backed off and later changed that law so that Jefferson couldn’t free his slaves
Well, and it said that they wouldn’t let you do what you want to do with your slaves, is maybe a simplification too because they would let you in many cases abuse them, they would let you do hurtful or abusive things to them, but not freedom, which does seem to be a level of irony. And this is where you do see in some states, the pro-slavery, the pro-racist mentality of some of the population of those states. It’s certainly not all states.
And certainly, as dad, you mentioned, the leaders, at least the Founding Fathers, those kinds of thought leaders from Virginia, they largely were anti-slavery people even though many of them had slaves, and that was the culture of the day. But one of the things that also set them apart is Washington actually paid many of slaves. And that’s not the normal behavior of a slave owner to pay your slaves. Washington treated his slaves with great humanity, again, considering the era, considering the location he lived, and the limitations the law put on him.
It’s worth noting that Washington was very highly thought of and respected by many early abolitionists. And certainly, if you’re a guy that is known to be pro-racist, pro-slavery, whatever the case might be, you’re not going to be a fan of the abolition movement and abolitionists necessarily themselves. So there certainly is more context that story than what a lot of people here today.
And with regard to the part of the question that deals with Asbury and Coke, Asbury and Coke were two really leading big name figures in the First Great Awakening. You have Whitfield and you have John and Charles Wesley, you have Richard Coke, and you have Francis Asbury and all these really big names. And the Great Awakening is one of the things that really started turning a lot of opinion in America against slavery.
Now, up in the northern states, that was pretty much already there against slavery, but in some of the middle colonies, when you get into Pennsylvania, and when you get into New Jersey and Delaware and others and even some of the southern colonies, is that revival was there really kind of soften the line of distinction between blacks and whites. And so one of the characteristics you see in the Great Awakenings was black and white crowds met together, and the conversions happened, black and whites together.
And so it was really kind of a time of coming together, which was unusual in a lot of those southern states where a lot of that revival happened. And you’ll find that in the Great Awakenings, so many of those Methodist ministers like Coke and Asbury and Westlake, etc, they came up very adamantly against slavery.
Now it’s interesting, I hate saying Methodist and having people think it’s today’s Methodist because it’s not. They were more like what we would call a Wesleyan Methodist, the Wesleyan Methodist denomination today is closer to the John and Charles Wesley flavor. The United Methodist Church today has nearly nothing in common with the originators of Methodism, except the name Methodist and that’s it: their beliefs are not similar.
So in talking about Methodist, these are old-school evangelical Methodists that are absolutely adamantly Bible-believing. And so as they looked at Virginia and saw that this is a really pro-slavery state, they wanted to take action there. And so Richard Coke, Francis Asbury, they met with a number of Virginia leaders, Jefferson was already opposed to slavery, Washington was opposed to slavery.
They met with George Mason specifically. And in his house, there was about 20 ministers who met with George Mason, and George Mason, as a slave owner in Virginia, Gunston Hall was his home that you can visit today for George Mason.
George Mason is called the “Father of the Bill of Rights”, and he’s one of the 55 who helped write the Constitution, but he refused to sign it because the Constitution did not abolish slavery. And a lot of that was he could not get slavery abolished in his own state of Virginia. So like Jefferson, he said, let’s just abolish it nationally. He wanted slavery gone. And again, he say, well, if you want slavery gone, just for your slaves. No. No. Virginia law was not like that. There were so many restrictions.
And Jefferson was not able to free slaves because the law said if you have debt, you can’t free any slaves. There was all sorts of other provisions that if your wife inherited slaves, you can never free her slaves, which are called Dow Slaves. I mean reading the code of slavery in Virginia is like trying to understand the IRS code today. I mean, it’s just so convoluted, so many amendments and so many pages in so many books long and code. It was really complicated.
So George Mason and Leland and co get together and they come up with a petition that they want to introduce in the legislature. They want this petition introduced in the legislature to say we want to abolish slavery in Virginia, and we want to do it right now, immediate emancipation. So, they went to all the leaders. They went to George Washington, and they said, George, you know, we know this may be a really difficult thing for you, given your position, because as a national leader you’ve tried to unify north and south and while your own personal opinions are clear, you’ve stayed out of politics, by and large–
You’ve stayed out of the legislative house. You’ve been in the military house, which is today why we say we don’t want military generals running politics or running policies.
So they gave him that statement said, but would you support this petition in the legislature against slavery? He said my feelings against slavery are well known. They’re well demonstrated. But I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me, military leader, to support this kind of a measure in the legislature. So he didn’t.
But the measure went into the legislature, and in the legislature, the same thing happened, this measure 1785 that happened in Thomas Jefferson back, I think in 1767, they just basically shouted it down. Not only did they propose to table this resolution, they said it should be buried under the table. You know, they made jokes about not only we’re not going to hear it, we’re going to bury this thing where it’ll never come out.
So what happens is this measure did not get passed. And those guys, Asbury and Coke and others, they communicate to other ministers too. When you look at John Leland, Isaac Backus, these guys met with Jefferson on issues of religious liberty. So they were accustomed to meeting with Virginia leaders because these guys really were good on so many issues, even though their state was not good.
So it’s not the thing that if Washington and Jefferson could have supported this bill that slavery would have ended, prevented the Civil War. They couldn’t even convert their own state to their viewpoints. So that would not have prevented a civil war. But these guys definitely were adamant against slavery, and they definitely did meet with leading evangelical ministers who were trying to do things to end slavery.
Well, great question, John. Thanks for sending that in. We’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, more of your questions, which you can send in today to email@example.com, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man, the classes are boring, or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago, or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall, and to the WallBuilders’ library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the Quickstart Guide to the Constitution, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s constitution, you’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive with David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at wallbuilders.com.
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday, diving back into your questions. I actually said we were going to get a question for somebody else. But John had a second question in his email. Let’s take that one as well.
He said “My other question relates to some comments I’ve heard recently from the liberal side of the aisle. Their argument is that sometimes bigger government is necessary to force individuals into compliance. For example, since the people would not comply and get rid of slavery in the south, a big-government approach was necessary in order to force compliance.
“In modern times, a bigger government approach is purportedly necessary in order to force individuals and companies to take action against climate change, or perhaps to force people to get vaccinated. Is it consistent to be both opposed to bigger government approaches and in favor of federalism while at the same time be in favor of action that was taken to emancipate slaves and pass the Civil War amendments 13th, 14th, and 15th?”
Okay, guys, so somewhat along those same lines, so we’re going back to some of those issues. But is big government necessary whenever the people will not go along with whatever the new agenda is? I mean, I have a hard time putting slavery in the same categories getting vaccinated. But I get what he’s saying. That’s the approach of the left-right now to say you need big government for people’s own good to make them get vaccinated.
Yeah, it’s a great question, because what they’re doing is saying, hey, in bigger, but we liberals want more big government and so we’re going to point to slavery as the reason and we’re going to mask mandates, the reason we’re going to do vaccinations, the reason we’re going to climate change or whatever. Okay, go back, historically, and constitutionally. Why did the government get involved in big government over the slavery issue? Because the slavery issue violated inalienable rights.
And you go back to the Constitution founded on the Declaration, the Declaration gives you the philosophy of government, the Constitution shows you how that philosophy was implemented, Declaration really clear. There is a creator, he gives inalienable rights, is the purpose of government to protect and preserve those inalienable rights. Everyone has an inalienable right to life and inalienable right to liberty and inalienable right to freedom and the right of conscience and self-defense, etc. And then South said, well, no, not everybody, not if your skin is the wrong color.
So what happens is the Constitution simply steps and say, hey, did you not pay attention? I mean this is the inalienable rights and we’re going to do that. And so they use big government to do that if you want to say that. But that’s not the justification for big government for things that are not constitutional. I mean, the Constitution gives 17 enumerated powers.
And if the power is there and the federal government to do that, then yeah, you can have big government in that area because you have to enforce what’s there, whether that be to have a military or whether that be to secure borders, or whatever. If it takes a lot of government to do that, do that. That’s one of the 17 powers. But that’s not an excuse for saying, well, we can have big government in anything because they didn’t protect inalienable right of liberty back then, so that means we can protect whatever from climate change or vaccination.
That doesn’t hold up. That doesn’t correspond. And for liberals to make that claim simply means they’re ignoring history and they’re using a straw man argument because history does not support that interpretation.
Yeah, dad, to your point, a lot of people today are looking for the federal government to solve a lot of problems, it’s not the federal government’s job to solve certain problems. Well, you know that some things are much more involved in a state level, where we see things like even different departments in government right now, Department of Education being one, that’s a hot topic right now because a lot of parents are recognizing what’s happening inside of public schools.
And what teachers unions have been doing, promoting and encouraging schools not to be open and then not for parents not to have a say in this. And you actually have now a person running for governor who has acknowledged in Virginia, right, Terry McAuliffe, who says that parents don’t have a right to really have a say in their child’s education. A lot of people view government in a very different capacity.
And this is where if you back up to it, again, like even the Civil War, the example of the slavery issue, this wasn’t the government taking on something outside of the realm of their responsibility recognizing when the Founding Fathers in the Declaration lay out the purpose philosophy of government that there is a Creator, and that Creator is given alienable rights and that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, government exists to secure our God-given rights.
And so anytime the government has to get big and flex its muscles to secure our God-given rights, we support that. It’s kind of like the notion that we believe in less spending, but a big military. People go well, wait a second, you have a big military that’s more spending. Well, these are two totally different things, right.
We believe in small taxes and a big military, but both of those because they protect freedom. Smaller taxes, it’s less of an infringement on my finances, and on the things, I possess and own. But a big military, they’re able to better protect my finances, my home, the things that are possessions. And so a very much is a freedom-oriented thing.
But it’s recognizing it’s their job is to protect our God-given rights. And certainly, in those God-given rights, when you had people at that time in the south arguing they had a God-given right to own other people. That’s not a God-given right you’re really going to find in Scripture.
That’s not an inalienable right. It’s certainly something that happened after the fall of man. It’s certainly something that happens in a fallen, sinful, broken world that’s certainly been a part of history forever.
But that was not God’s original design back to kind of Garden of Eden era. That’s not one of those inalienable rights. And this is where again, the distinction is government can get big and flex its muscles to protect our God-given rights, but they can’t get big and flex muscles to do things outside of those enumerated powers and outside of protecting our God-given rights.
The Principles of Limited Government
And there’s a great CD or mp3 on the website at wallbuilders.com called The Principles of Limited Government. It really breaks down the difference between big government and limited government. And exactly what you just said, Tim, like a big money, right, lots of money to spend on a military to protect the nation as big as ours, but that’s within their jurisdiction. So it’s still limited.
So if the federal government is getting into vaccine mandates, is way outside its constitutional authority. It’s a big government that’s doing something that it doesn’t have constitutional authority to do because we the people didn’t give them that in the Constitution. Now, state and local governments, they can do that if their state Constitution allows for them to do that.
And a lot of people are claiming the old Jacobsen case from 1905 is why President Biden can do all this stuff. Well, the Jacobson case was about local power, not federal power. So it’s very important to recognize what is the actual authority that that level of government has been given. Not even government in general, but that specific government is given specific powers by the people. That’s why we talk about it being of the people, by the people, for the people. That’s why the Declaration talks about consent of the government. It is about limited government meaning jurisdictions. What are the lines? What do you have authority to do? What have we the people giving you the authority to do? And if you’re doing something that’s outside that authority, then it’s big government-run amok instead of big government that’s actually doing its job.
Alright, fellas, last question of the day comes from Kathy. She says, “I’ve been reading some strange things about what happened in 1871 and the United States Corporation. Do you have any info on this? And is there an original document to read the details what actually took place? I would appreciate any info you can direct me to. Thanks.”
THE 1871 Incorporation MYTH
And guys, of course, we all three, get this question a lot at the book table out there on the road, in our Monday night class and other folks asking this, a lot of viral videos this year talking about this 1871 incorporation. And for those that haven’t heard about it, people say, you know, Constitution doesn’t exist anymore, we became a corporation owned by the British, or there’s all kinds of different versions of it out there. But guys, how do you quickly answer that one?
Well, simply because you become incorporated in area doesn’t mean you’re a corporation owned by someone else. And to say that in 1871, America ceased to be America and it became a British business holding, okay, let’s just think about this for a minute. Are you telling me that Ulysses S. Grant, which was that era, and James A. Garfield and people like Rutherford B. Hayes, you know, Teddy, or whoever else was not the president of United States, but they were President of a British Corporation? Are you kidding me? I mean, that’s a crazy notion. But there’s a basis for not believing what this claim is.
Well, and what exactly is a claim of who incorporated, wasn’t the United States of America, it was the District of Columbia. So now we’re talking about one specific area being incorporated, and they’re saying, but that means all of America because that was the capital city. Okay. I’m not agreeing with any of this. But let’s just track even that thought of logic for a second. If you’re saying they incorporated, okay, so maybe the British owned the District of Columbia, but they still don’t own the United States of America, if we were following that flawed logic, and it is flawed logic, and it’s not true at all.
Yeah, the British do not own the district.
They don’t own that.
But if they did?
If that was the argument, but well, okay, but when they incorporated, they didn’t own that. What they would own would be Washington, DC, which at this point I’m kind of happy to give that to them anyway. I will make a donation between like California and Austin like there’s a few places. And by the way, all our friends in California, I apologize.
I’m not trying to give your state away. You guys are doing amazing things. We think there’s revival happening in lots of places, California being one of them. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of really bad policies.
All that being said, this was an incorporation of a specific location, it was not the entire United States of America. Is even the argument being made, and now it gets misapplied to be all the United States, and therefore we actually are British citizens or something of such nature. There’s no historic basis for these accusations and these thoughts, but this is something we hear repeated quite often.
WE HAVEN’T LOST AMERICA
Well, in Texas, we incorporate towns all the time. We have new towns that become incorporated. That doesn’t mean they’re no longer part of Texas. It doesn’t mean they’re not part of the United States. It doesn’t mean that because of bank fronted of their money that they now belong to some offshore bank in China or Belgium or whatever. That’s a strange logic.
Matter of fact, there was a great case in 1941 at the US Supreme Court where they talked about this amazingly. People were making the claim back then, and the Supreme Court said the argument that the United States may be treated as a corporation organized under its own laws that is under the Constitution as the fundamental law is so strained is not to merit serious consideration.
It’s like you don’t even have a brain if that’s what you think. This doesn’t even deserve a serious thought. If you’re thinking that organizing something under the Constitution means it belongs to another country, that’s crazy thought.
But I tell you there are so much frustration that people have now with what they see the government doing and where they see it had and where they see whether it’s Biden or anything else they don’t like where it’s headed. They feel like the only way they can explain what’s happening with this stupid stuff is to say that somebody else is doing it, pulling the strings and manipulating it.
And that’s just not the case. And we haven’t lost America. What we’ve lost is we’ve lost the people being involved.
We’re all tired of hearing about voting in the election that won’t go away. But I’m still going to point out that over the last 11 presidential elections, only 18% of Americans chose the President of the United States. So it’s not like some foreign corporation is doing this to us and imposing in our will, is like four out of five Americans didn’t vote for Biden, and he’s the president, and four out of five Americans didn’t vote for Trump, but he’s the president, and four out of five Americans didn’t vote for Obama, but he’s the president, as to what’s been for last 11 elections.
The Founders And Slavery, The American Corporation And More – On Foundations
So when we ever get to the point where we decide we want to take control of our own country, and we get higher than that 18% average that has been for the last 11 elections for the winning candidate, we can see some things turn around, but don’t blame it on conspiracies. There’s a great Bible verse in Isaiah 8 verses 11-13, where God says don’t call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy, don’t fear what they fear, don’t dread what they dread. I’m the Lord your God.
And so our confidence is not in conspiracies are some ways to explain our frustration. We’re going to say, okay, God, we put our confidence in you, and we got to get our own fellow citizens out to make the difference so that we can stop this kind of conspiratorial nonsense.
Well, and it’s so easy to fall for this stuff when it’s just out there and so prevalent. We get that question all the time. So thank you for sending in the question. We want to make sure people have truth and that they can act on that truth. Don’t be disempowered by these conspiracy theories out there. Learn more at biblicalcitizens.com.
Get involved in that Monday night live class with us or host the class right there in your living room. Biblicalcitizens.com is the place to sign up. And also go to wallbuilderslive.com today, make that one-time or monthly contribution, get access to all of those previous programs from the previous few weeks, and just become a part of our team. You know, when you donate to wallbuilderslive.com, you’re locking shields with us, you’re coming alongside us, and you’re helping us to get this truth out there to as many people as possible.
Thanks for listening to WallBuilders Live!