A student at James Madison Memorial High School has started a petition to change the name of her school because the name James Madison makes her “feel more than unsafe” because, she says, Madison “enslaved her people.”
DO NOT blame this student. She is the unfortunate product of her education system. Although this can make us angry, let us not focus upon blame and instead become part of the solution!
Changing the course of education in America can happen with just one email! Please JOIN ME in sending the following email to the principal of James Madison Memorial High School and encourage him to do what he must to reestablish #Truth and history in his classroom.
All you need to do is copy and paste the following letter into your email to Principal Jay Affeldt- email@example.com
It won’t cost you a dime to aid in this effort; it won’t even take much time. But what is it costing our future if we remain silent to this ignorance? Silence in the face of lies, is the same as repeating those lies.
Principal Jay Affeldt,
You have a great opportunity to help your nation by adding a much-needed positive influence in the discussion of race in America, if you simply inject truth into the discussion and insist that your teachers do the same. Encouraging your teachers to teach accurate history and equipping them to do so could go far in promoting reason, compassion and peace. The distortion of and hiding of true history does nothing but add to the hate and ignorance permeating this discussion.
Finding first source history takes less than 30 seconds in this internet age – it is unfortunate that your history teacher(s) apparently have been unable to avail themselves of the unprecedented access to information in our day. Or perhaps your students are simply not assimilating the information. Whatever the case, you have a teachable moment, why not seize upon it?
The Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, the Notes on the Constitutional Conventions and the personal correspondences of America’s framers are readily available and rich resources of America’s foundational history. The founders of our republic wrote countless reams on their actions, their reasoning, their hopes and fears because they knew that a detailed record of our founding would be absolutely imperative for future generations. There is very little that cannot be gleaned about their positions on most topics. Like the rest of us some of them evolved in their views as they aged or gained more information. Some betrayed principles they had once firmly stood for; they were mere mortals. It is not the men that this nation was founded upon but the principles that have proven themselves timeless and beneficial for all mankind and the preservation of liberty that underpin this republic. Here is a glimpse at the thoughts of James Madison, whom your students vilifying as an oppressor rather than a champion of freedom who laid the groundwork for the liberty we enjoy today.
The one item that took center stage in our founders’ purposes was the preservation and expansion of liberty for all. Slavery was a topic hotly debated, and it was despised by many. Several provisions were made in an attempt to compromise for the sake of establishing the republic (so that it could survive and not be immediately reconquered) while at the same time diminishing the influence of slaveholding sates (yet necessarily recognizing their sovereignty). All of this was a precarious and monumental task, and although some provisions did not work as hoped, many were optimistic that the despised trade would cease.
“[The Convention] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.”– James Madison, Records of the Convention, August 25, 1787
This is why a twenty year sunset period was set for the importation of slaves. Many of our founders along with Madison knew that they could not plow new fields overnight, yet they hoped that the practice of slavery would be choked out in time. Madison for his own part preferred that the international importation of slaves be immediately ended:
“It were doubtless to be wished, that the power of prohibiting the importation of slaves had not been postponed until the year 1808, or rather that it had been suffered to have immediate operation. But it is not difficult to account, either for this restriction on the general government, or for the manner in which the whole clause is expressed. It ought to be considered as a great point gained in favor of humanity, that a period of twenty years may terminate forever, within these States, a traffic which has so long and so loudly upbraided the barbarism of modern policy; that within that period, it will receive a considerable discouragement from the federal government, and may be totally abolished, by a concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory example which has been given by so great a majority of the Union. Happy would it be for the unfortunate Africans, if an equal prospect lay before them of being redeemed from the oppressions of their European brethren!”
— James Madison, Federalist Paper No. 42
They knew that rooting out the deeply entrenched cultural phenomenon of slavery would be a monumental task but they knew that it must be done and that it was a task worth accomplishing.
[I]f slavery, as a national evil, is to be abolished, and it be just that it be done at the national expense, the amount of the expense is not a paramount consideration.
— James Madison, Letter to Robert J. Evans
While the political implementation was difficult and not all of it came to the beneficial end in the manner Mr. Madison had hoped, his intentions are clear. The villification of such a man must rest upon a complete ignorance and distortion of history. THe cultural context was complex, the task of forging a new nation was monumental, the players were diverse in their views and opinions, but to characterize the constitutional conventions as full of greedy, conniving men, James Madison among them, bent on enslaving a people could not be further from the truth.
Here are just a few more quotes from Madison that reveal his heart toward this issue:
“We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.” -James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787
American citizens are instrumental in carrying on a traffic in enslaved Africans, equally in violation of the laws of humanity and in defiance of those of their own country. The same just and benevolent motives which produced interdiction in force against this criminal conduct will doubtless be felt by Congress in devising further means of suppressing the evil. -James Madison, State of the Union,1810
Outlets for the freed blacks are alone wanted for the erasure of the blot from our Republican character. -James Madison, Letter to General La Fayette, February 1, 1830.
Principal Affeldt, we are ready to support you in your efforts to restore truth and history back into your curriculum. Constitutional Attorney and historian KrisAnne Hall is more than willing to teach this education to an assembly of your students at no cost to the school. You may contact her at info@KrisAnneHall.com Here is an article she wrote about How The Constitution Ended Slavery to help you in your understanding: http://krisannehall.com/how-the-constitution-ended-slavery/
James Madison declared before the House of Representatives in 1789: “It is to be hoped, that by expressing a national disapprobation of this trade, we may destroy it, and save ourselves from reproaches, and our posterity the imbecility ever attendant on a country filled with slaves.”
It is my hope that we can save our future generations from the ignorance and build an even better American than one Madison envisioned. Thank you for your service to the future generations of America. I also thank you in advance for your re-dedication to truth and history.