“The Revolution was grounded in defense of the natural, God-given rights possessed by all mankind, but the Constitution was an ‘insult to that God… who views with equal eye the poor African slave and his American slave master.”

Luther Martin, Attorney General of the State of Maryland and delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and the Maryland Ratification Convention.

For many years I have agreed with historian Sheldon Richmond in his assessment that the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was “A Revolution in Favor of Government” and with Anti-federalist Samuel Bryan that the men who clamored for that convention were participants in a “Criminal Conspiracy” against the principles of the standing Constitution of the day: The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. 

The majority of those who conspired in secret in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787, did so in an effort to secure financial rewards for those whom they themselves referred to as the “wealthy and well born.” They cared nothing of embracing physical slavery in pursuit of those goals but also sought to create economic slaves of the people who would be forced to support their agenda(s) with unlimited taxation measures and provisions listed in the very first powers granted to congress in their finished product. (Article I Section 8 Clause I)

Decades of study on the Founding Era of this country and the many personalities involved has led me to a huge amount of respect for a man who we seldom if ever hear of in government sponsored educational pursuits. Perhaps his unrelenting opposition to oppressive government is the reason for this purposeful omission. Again, this true patriot would be Luther Martin of Maryland. Read please what Martin had to say about the unlimited taxing provisions in Article I Section 8 Clause I and see if you disagree with his assessment.

“By the power to lay and collect imposts, they may impose duties on any or every article of commerce imported into these States to what amount they please. By the power to lay excises, a power very odious in its nature, since it authorises officers to go into your houses, your kitchens, your cellars, and to examine into your private concerns:the Congress may impose duties on every article of use or consumption, on the food that we eat, on the liquors we drink, on the clothes that we wear, the glass which enlighten our houses, or the hearths necessary for our warmth and comfort. By the power to lay and collect taxes, they may proceed to direct taxation on every individual either by a capitation tax on their heads, or an assessment on their property. By this part of the section therefore, the government has a power to lay what duties they please on goods imported; to lay what duties they please afterwards on whatever we use or consume; to impose stamp duties to what amount they please, and in whatever case they please: afterwards to impose on the people direct taxes, by capitation tax, or by assessment, to what amount they choose, and thus to sluice them at every vein as long as they have a drop of blood, without any controul, limitation, or restraint; while all the officers for collecting these taxes, stamp duties, imposts, and excises, are to be appointed by the general government, under its directions, not accountable to the States; nor is there even a security that they shall be citizens of the respective States, in which they are to exercise their offices; at the same time the construction of every law imposing any and all these taxes and duties, and directing the collection of them, and every question arising thereon, and on the conduct of the officers appointed to execute these laws, and to collect these taxes and duties so various in their kinds, are taken away from the courts of justice of the different States, and confined to the courts of the general government, there is to be heard and determined by judges holding their offices under the appointment not of the States, but of the general government.’ [Italics in the original]

The words of Luther Martin, a pursuer of Liberty in the mold of Patrick Henry, are most illustrative of the economic slaves which were created by those fabled Federalists who created a form of government in Philadelphia which they would control in perpetuity, they believed—but then along came Thomas Jefferson, Albert Gallatin and company.

Now for a look into the efforts of the Federalists to keep the Southern states in the Union, embracing physical enslavement of the black man in order to economically enslave all the people. More peoples to tax, especially productive ones, was the wet dream of all Federalists. On several occasions during the convention, the delegates from the Southern states had threatened to walk away from the convention unless they were allowed to keep their slaves. The high and mighty Federalists eagerly traded away any moral convictions they might have had in order to secure their financial goals—politics really haven’t changed much in 230 plus years.

On the 21st of August, during the oppressive heat of summer, the issue of slavery burst into full bloom at the convention. Again, Luther Martin led off with his opposition to the slave trade by stating he was as interested in individual liberty for all, the same as he was for States’ Rights. Martin proposed an economically prohibitive tax on the importation of slaves when he stated again his disdain for the three-fifths clause, claiming such a clause was “inconsistent with the principles of the revolution and dishonorable to the American character.”

John Rutledge of South Carolina, who would be named to the Supreme Court by George Washington and become the second Chief Justice after John Jay, responded in true Federalist vernacular: “Religion and humanity had nothing to do with this question” he said, “Interest alone is the governing principle with Nations.” Again, the Federalist indicated it was all about commerce and money. religion and humanity were irrelevant to their pursuits.

Charles Pinckney, also from South Carolina and who would become a US Senator in the new government, under the constitution he was promoting, but in 1791 switched his political affiliation to the efforts of Thomas Jefferson, had this to say about the institution of slavery as opposed to moral principles: “If slavery be wrong, it is justified by the example of all the world…in all ages one half of mankind have been slaves.” Fairly easy to say for a man who was in the half that owned slaves rather than being in the half who were! His cousin, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, also of South Carolina, would add to the discussion: “South Carolina and Georgia cannot do without slaves.” Pinckney then got right to the heart of the matter with the following statement: “The more slaves, the more produce to employ the carrying trade; [shipping] the more consumption also, and the more of this, the more revenue for the common treasury.” Again, an overt willingness of the Federalists to sacrifice morality on the altar of economic gain.

It was at this point that discussions of the institution of slavery took on a different perspective. George Mason of Virginia, who would refuse to sign the final edition of the constitution stating he would rather cut off his right hand, gave a speech in which he denounced not only the slave trade but slavery itself, pointing out the immorality, tyranny and sins of slavery: “Slavery discourages arts and manufactures… they produce the most pernicious effect on manners. Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgement of heaven on a country… providence punishes national sins by national calamities.” 

Such views by George Mason were not inconsistent or perhaps said for effect. Over two decades previous Mason had written the following:

“That slow poison… is daily contaminating the minds and morals of our people. Every gentlemen here is born a petty tyrant. Practiced in acts of despotism and cruelty, we become callous to the dictates of humanity, and all the inner feelings of the soul. Taught to regard a part of our own species in the most abject and contemptible degree below us, we lose that idea of dignity of man which the hand of nature has implanted in us for great and useful purposes.”

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