Michele Bachmann is getting heat for this exchange with ABC’s George Stepalloverus about her claim that the Founders “worked tirelessly” to end slavery, and then got tangled up with him about whether John Quincy Adams should be considered among the Founders, though he was only a boy when his father was doing his Founding deeds.
The distraction about JQ Adams was unfortunate, for it allowed Stephanopoulos to get away with saying Michele’s statement about the Founders working to end slavery was “just not true.” Here’s how Michele ought to have answered, I think: “So, George, you think Frederick Douglass was wrong when he said the Constitution was ‘an anti-slavery charter’? I know you went to Columbia, and I guess they don’t teach Douglass (or Lincoln) there much any more. So I agree that there’s an ignorant person in this conversation, George, but it isn’t me.”
JOHN adds: See also this Washington Times editorial, Bachmann was right. It is also too little emphasized that the Constitution was intended to put slavery on the path to extinction. The slave trade was made subject to prohibition in 1808, and Congress did in fact ban it effective January of that year. And the three-fifths provision gave the slave states an incentive to terminate the institution; they could immediately increase their representation in Congress by doing so.