America’s Black Founding Fathers

Marquis de Lafayette and American spy James Armistead

Glenn Beck has been looking at the founders of American on “Founders Friday.” This week, he and some historians looked at black Americans who were present at the founding of America and had important roles in our country’s independence.

One of those was Peter Salem, who can be found in a painting of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

In the painting of the Battle of Lexington,  the people assembled here are members of Rev. Jonas Clark’s congregation.  They were a congregation of both black and white Americans. One of those men was Prince Estabrook, a black American.

Remember the famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware?  Near the front of the boat you will see Prince Whipple helping row the boat, as well as a woman.  All Americans were involved in winning our independence.

There is another painting of Marquis de Lafayette, the Frenchman who so greatly helped George Washington with our troops, and James Armistead. Armistead was an American double-spy who helped get information from the British and feed them bad information about us. His service was pivotal to our success at the Battle of Yorktown…which effectively won the American Revolution for us.

One of the guests on Beck’s show was David Barton, founder of WallBuilders and author of “American History in Black and White.”  Another was Dr. Lucas Morel, a professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia and author of “Lincoln’s Sacred Effort.” Barton goes into greater detail about Armistead’s role in American history, as well as the friendship between Lafayette and Armistead.

Barton also talked about Wentworth Cheswell, who is considered the first black American elected to public office.  We all know about Paul Revere’s famous ride warning that the British were coming, but Cheswell rode in another direction to give the same warning.

At one point, Barton points out that obviously at some point in history, since many of these black founders show up in various paintings of the Revolution, we knew about the role of black Americans in our founding. Somewhere along the way, like many historical facts, this has been forgotten.

There is also considerable discussion of Frederick Douglass, who is better known in history and someone Beck calls a “re-founder.”  Barton says Douglass once believed the “Three-Fifths Compromise” was a terrible affront to enslaved black Americans and that it rendered the U.S. Constitution totally corrupt.  However, when he studied the Constitution along with the notes from the Constitutional Convention, he realized it was an anti-slavery document.

The bulk of the founders recognized that slavery was wrong and was counter to the ideals of freedom upon which the American Revolution was based.  However, there were some in the South who wanted to preserve slavery in the United States, and the impasse threatened the union of our fledgling nation. As a compromise, they came up with the idea of counting slaves as “three-fifths” for the purposes of representation and apportionment.

If a slave was not worthy of freedom like any other American, then he should not really be counted for the purposes of representation and apportionment.  Of course, the Southern states saw how this would hurt them in the federal government, so they compromised by counting slaves at three-fifths of a free person. It made it harder for pro-slavery states to get as much representation in congress; thus the anti-slavery states would have greater representation in apportionment…and in making laws for the nation in general. This gave the Southern states an incentive to free their slaves so that their overall population numbers would increase and thus give the Southern states greater representation and apportionment.

Of course, the truth doesn’t fit the liberal narrative of America as an evil place, a place founded by evil rich slave-owning white guys (and there is some truth to that: some founders were wealthy, and some did own slaves) that has always been a place of great inequality.  The truth doesn’t advance the culture of victimhood promoted by the modern Left in America.  The reality of our history–both good and bad–must be sanitized and revised and rewritten, therefore, in order for the Left to fundamentally alter our present and future public policy.

People like Lemuel Haynes (as well as some of these other black American historical figures) throw a lot of water on that revisionist narrative, however.  Haynes was a black American, born to a white woman and a black man.  He became a minister and pastored a church with a white congregation, and also fought in the militia in the American Revolution. Barton says that he always preached a special sermon about George Washington on Washington’s birthday every year.

There was Benjamin Banneker, a black American who was involved in the planning of Washington D.C. and was said to be very intelligent and involved with building clocks and predicting eclipses.

During the question and answer segment (below), they take on the liberal historical revisionism concerning ethnic issues and the two major political parties in America.  While liberals want us to believe the opposite, history shows that it was a Republican president who sent hundreds of thousands of white Americans to die to free black Americans, Democrats who started the KKK and opposed full freedom for black Americans, and Democrats who fought full civil rights for black Americans all the way through the Civil Rights Act.  Today’s Democrat Party is definitely unsurpassed in pandering to black Americans (while delivering nothing but empty promises), but history proves their despicable history as enemies of freedom (some things never change).

America’s history is rich, and it took all of us regardless of skin color to make it what it is today.  America’s history has not been perfect (no country’s has), and we have not always lived up to our ideals, but our ideals and our struggle to live up to those noble ideals are what sets this nation apart from any other in the world throughout human history.

Let’s take our history straight, with our shortcomings and our glorious successes, and not allow liberals who are hostile to our ideals to rewrite our history in their effort to rewrite our future.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Questions and Answers from the Audience

22 Responses to “America’s Black Founding Fathers”

  1. I watched this show and wished Beck and Barker had been a little more honest and like in the instance of Prince Whipple, mentioned there is great debate whether that is actually him in the painting( his relatives say it wasn't) and also mention that even if it is him, that he was a slave at that time and didn't become free until after the war was over. Also Frederick Douglas was a smart man and while he was adamantly against the 3/5 Compromise completely,he realised it was an opening, a beginning and the best way to start freeing the black slaves eventually. He saw that it was going to be a process in the making to free the blacks

    But Beck and Barker were trying to show that there were indeed blacks( and women ) that were involved in our fight for independence and they are right. Equality and freedom, though, has been a slow,gradual process in our history. The imporatant thing is that we have it now !

    But, one could make the point, no matter the times, no matter the reasons, no matter if slaves became free sooner, is it EVER right to consider any group of people 3/5 of a human or 3/5 of a citizen. That goes against the inalienable, inherent God given, natural rights of all men and one could make the argument that such a 3/5 declaration should never be made for that reason alone.

  2. For some, the glass is always half empty.

  3. ” half empty ” ? Thought I was being profound. Absolute truth would claim that no man is ever a fraction of another for any reason. But men live in the real world where absolute truths are compromised and these compromises are sometimes made to achieve a greater good, as evidenced by our countries slow transition to freedom for all and things like the 3/5 Compromise.

  4. I'm glad you see that the Three-Fifths Compromise was an unfortunately-necessary compromise in pursuit of a greater good. I didn't see that from your previous comment.

  5. While I have issues with some of the statements and perceptions of the Becks of the world, I detest more than anything those Liberals who, in retrospect, look back at our history and demean and point out certain instances where maybe perfection wasn't present and then draw some absurd conclusion from that. Drives me nuts

    Americans, past and present, aren't gods, but men and women struggling to do the best they can and when I look around now, aware we can always improve, I love what I see.

  6. A fascinating show. I can see why some want to keep this history hidden. But I am going to tell you that there is a message here that keeps getting lost in our own minds because of our perceptions of the US as taught to us based upon our attendance in a pernicious progressive public school instructional system. The message we need to take away from this is that there has always been a struggle in this country for our liberty and we have to keep pulling back from the brink of corrupt leadership and greed for power. It is the Constitution that allows us to do that.

  7. The constitution didn't consider blacks 3/5ths a human anymore than it considered the indians 0% a human. It was strictly to deal with representation. The indians 'not taxed' (but whose lands were protected), were not counted -at all- in the representation. Somehow in 1890 someone decided it was a good idea to count the Native Americans, even though they do not pay taxes, so in effect we have representation without taxation, even though the constitution demands that all taxation be 'equal' in apportionment to the census, so I am not sure how that all works…

    The clause was dealing with how the people were to be counted to distribute services. The Indians were 'not taxed' therefore were 'not counted'. The slaves, while 'not taxed', were in households of those who 'were taxed', and therefore those households had a vested interest in making sure they were counted so they could get better services and representation, whether or not that representation was in the best interest or not of the actual people they were enslaving.

    Saying that 3/5 applies to their 'value' as people opposed to a legal clause is a gross twisting of facts. I am sure the slave owners and many might have thought indeed that they were not – but there were just as many who held up the right of life and that is why our constitution safeguards the God given right to life.

  8. Of course, technically you are right that the Constitution didn't say that black slaves were '3/5 human'. It also never stated they were 100% human either. It didn't comment one way or the other on that point. But any document that doesn't afford any man all the rights of all other men and denies all men equal inalienable rights, must be questioned.

    The Constitution is a piece of paper written by men, so must we not look at these men who authored it. No doubt some felt the blacks slaves were property. Is property a man or human? Maybe it is a matter of semantics

  9. …while it's historically accurate to say that the original Klan was largely Democratic, it's conveniently misleading

    …”that” Klan hasn't existed since the 1800's

    The modern Klan (same in name only) is a predominantly right-wing Baptist organization whose members are likely huge fans of Glenn Beck and Fox News.

  10. I said modern liberals want to rewrite history so they can craft a different present and future. Thank you for providing an illustration.

  11. Bob, your version of “history” is very selective… I'm simply filling in the blanks.

    Again, while it's true that the Klan was originally founded by Southern Democrats, it's entirely inaccurate to state or even imply that only Democrats have ever served in its ranks.

    Nothing could be further from the truth!

    David Duke, one of the Klan's most notorious Grand Wizards in recent memory, is a Republican who currenly supports the Tea Party movement. In all fairness, though, he also ran for office as a Democrat, albeit unsuccessfully.

    Similarly notorious Grand Dragon Tom Metzger has changed political and even religious affiliations more often than most folks change their clothes… he's been a Liberal, a Democrat, and a Republican, a Christian, a minister, and an atheist.

    Point being, the Klan panders to whomever they think will listen at the moment…

  12. I didn't state or imply that only Democrats have ever “served” in the ranks of the KKK.

    It is, however, demonstrable fact that

    – Democrats as a whole championed slavery while Republicans fought to end the practice
    – Democrats as a whole started the KKK
    – Democrats as a whole worked to undermine freedom and equality for black Americans post Civil War
    – Democrats as a whole worked for segregation
    – Democrats as a whole fought efforts to end segregation
    – Democrats as a whole fought the modern civil rights movement
    – A smaller proportion of Democrats supported the Civil Rights Act than did Republicans
    – Prominent Democrats such as Alabama Governor George Wallace, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd and others either forcefully blocked full equality for black Americans, were members of the KKK, or both.
    – The Democrat Party as a whole has little support for black Americans to its credit beyond pandering with quotas (reverse-discrimination) and empty rhetoric.

    Even now, the pandering peddled by the Democrat Party amounts to racism and discrimination. It involves what has been called the “soft bigotry of lowered expectations,” e.g. blacks aren't good enough to succeed and achive on their own, but must be spoon-fed special advantages and benefits by the government.

    We can always find exceptions to anything, but the Democrat Party would have little in the plus column under “freedom”–especially for black Americans–were it not for empty pandering and revisionism.

  13. It is silly to compare the Democratic party of yesteryear to todays Democratic party and draw some sort on conclusion. It is just as silly to compare the Republican party of yesteryaer to todays and draw conclusions.

    The main thing is that any one who belongs or ever has to the KKK, is a nut.

  14. I would agree that such comparisons are silly…if there is no longstanding and consistent trend…which there is.

  15. One trend that doesn't seem to me to be longstanding or consistent in the Republican Party is that of smaller government and less debt, which the recent Republican groups have given a ton of lip service to, but when in power, enact policy after policy that goes against that 'lonstanding' ideology of less debt and small government.

  16. In the last 10 years, the Republican leadership has definitely gone against their traditional limited government roots, as well as the stated values of the party.

    Here's to hoping that new trend falls apart and returns to the old one.

  17. 10 years ? I am not an expert on this, but not sure in the last 75 to 100 years the Republicans , when the rubber meets the road, have lived up to their oratory. This is coming from someone who voted for Reagan, both Bushes, but withheld voting on the last election.

  18. They've had their ups and downs, with Reagan and with congress in 1995-1996, but both Bush's were a disappointment, as was the Repub congress from the late 1990s to 2006.

    There remains a significant percentage of fiscally responsible persons in the GOP (especially in the rank and file), and the stated party values remain limited government.

    The Dems? They sold their souls to the Government-god in the mid 1960s and with extremely rare and isolated exceptions, have never looked back.

  19. Agree