Oops! Michele Bachmann on ‘GMA’ tackles another history question

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann discussed more history this morning with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Stephanopoulos wanted to know about her contention that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly” to end slavery. That part of the interview:

Stephanopoulos: … I wondered if you wanted to take a chance to clear up some of your past statements. For example earlier this year you said that the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery. Now with respect Congresswoman, that’s just not true. Many of them including Jefferson and Washington were actually slave holders and slavery didn’t end until the Civil War.

Bachmann: Well you know what’s marvelous is that in this country and under our constitution, we have the ability when we recognize that something is wrong to change it. And that’s what we did in our country. We changed it. We no longer have slavery. That’s a good thing. And what our Constitution has done for our nation is to give us the basis of freedom unparalleled in the rest of the world.

Stephanopoulos: I agree with that …

Bachmann: That’s what people want … they realize our government is taking away our freedom.

Stephanopoulos: But that’s not what you said. You said that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.

Bachmann: Well if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that’s absolutely true. He was a very young boy when he was with his father serving essentially as his father’s secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery …

Stephanopoulos: He wasn’t one of the Founding Fathers — he was a president, he was a Secretary of State, he was a member of Congress, you’re right he did work to end slavery decades later. But so you are standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?

Bachmann: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Joshua Brolin on 06/29/2011 - 04:26 am.

    Jefferson being a slave-holder, in a slave state, in fact tried to argue that slavery was contrary to the formation of a new nation. Many of those Virginians trying to ratify the Constitution were antislavery. The language was removed from the ratified Constitution to unite the States to take on the British. Had there been no America, there would have been a confederation of slave states, but obviously too complicated for Stephy. Briefly, regarding the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, no nation adopting such provisions could live with slavery. This was admitted by Abe Lincoln in 1850 and again 84 years later regarding “inalienable rights”. This concept is very simply understood and we do know the arguments about slavery were aired in the various conventions and colonial assemblies, but in the end stricken to unite the colonies. George Mason, a founding father, believed that the institution of slavery needed to be destroyed and would not support the Constitution because it did not flat out abolish slavery. This was further demonstrated by the apportionment clause in the Constitution to limit the South’s power, but the Constitution did cease the importation of slavery, albeit a first step. Even the abolitionists at the time, supported the Constitution! If these states had gone off, on their own, who knows how long slavery would have gone on in the Americas? Also, if slavery had been eradicated right then there would not have been a Civil War. George Mason authored the human rights declaration for the Virginia Commonwealth, which was a model for the US Constitution. Also, Alexander Hamilton was a prime mover for abolition and took actions in his home state of New York: a founding father, too! There’s a lot more to say about him. James Madison took to the floor of the Virginia Assembly and spoke for the gradual abolition of slavery which was rejected. Madison, a young man, struggled for emancipation his whole adult life. These are among the most prominent founders of our country. They couldn’t do it, but they knew, as Lincoln stated, they were setting the stage for abolition where such a thing could not exist in a free country. The founders unleashed the process which condemned it, setting forth the processes that took a few more decades to culminate unfortunately into a violent clash. Steph is completely unaware of our history!

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/29/2011 - 10:19 am.

    A very informative post, Mr. Brolin.

  3. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/29/2011 - 12:42 pm.

    So, your point seems to be that at least some of the founding fathers (I don’t see Washington or Adams in there) favored the eventual abolition of slavery; in some cases conveniently after they would cease benefiting from it.
    And I don’t think that even la Bachmannn included Lincoln as a founding father.

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