Using Perspective When Reviewing History

For some reason, history is on my mind, so let’s start off where we finished yesterday. Let’s face it, our founding fathers do not live up to current standards in many of today’s regards. Most were slaveholders who had little or no respect for those who had been kidnapped from their African countries to do their manual labor. In fact, one, and probably many, of them sired children via their late-night visits to slave quarters. That by today’s standards made them rapists.

How can we look up to people who had such despicable standards??

I guess I answer this question by saying that no one is perfect. I know that is kind of flippant, so I will expand on the thought. If we really accept it, we will realize that each of us has a dark side or at least an apathetic side that we are not proud of. I was a young person in the 1950s and had glimpses of how African-Americans were treated as second class, or worse, citizens. I wondered why that was, but it really didn’t bother me at the time. It would only be later after I had a wider worldview that I regretted my lack of action. I treated it as “just the way it was”.

Slavery was instituted in America at our very beginnings. It began in 1619 and quickly became a thoroughly American institution. By the time the founding fathers came around it had been in place for 150 years. The South was completely dependent on slavery to maintain their existence. Since almost all the prominent founders were from Virginia, they knew those facts.

Jefferson was one who we now know was troubled by slavery, but that didn’t keep him from at least indirectly condoning it. His “All men are created equal” got quite a stinging repute from other founders. It was only after the Southern founders resolved to the “fact” that “all men” really meant “all white, property owning men” that it even survived in our Declaration of Independence.

Sometimes we just have to recognize the good things that men do and realize that they were flawed like all of us are. I view Woodrow Wilson in that category. He did a lot of good, but he was an abject racist at the same time. Andrew Jackson is one of those times that, by our current standards was a pretty despicable person. He was a proud racist and Indian killer.

If we judge all of our past heroes by today standards, there would be no one on our hero list anymore, and we definitely need our heroes desperately today.

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