There is no doubt there are slaveholder signatories to the Bill of Rights. In fact, likely more than half of the signatories were slaveholders. The portrayal of the Bill of Rights as a slaveholders document misses the point though. There is no argument it is to a great extent, if the definition is having numerous slaveholder signatories. Nonetheless, the Bill of Rights represents a shield for each citizen against the state.
Yes, the fact slaveholders are signatories to the document is important, but for a different reason than the one usually put forth. The participation of the slaveholders is the reason the document represents REAL protection to individual liberty. Things have changed a lot since the 18th century, but they have not changed as much as the politicians and ideologues would have Americans believe.
Remember those slaveholders were expert in relieving people of their liberty. Ergo, they wanted to make sure this was not done to them. The Bill of Rights is an expert construct to protect the individual against the coercion of the state. None can argue the “expertise” of the Southern plantation owners when it came to relieving OTHERS of their liberty.
This makes the Bill of Rights EXPERTLY constructed to protect the rights of the individual. It is a beautiful irony. This great and powerful document now applies to ALL American citizens, not just white male landowners. This IS the great experiment the United States represents today, freedom for ALL.
America finds herself on the road toward an authoritarian capitalism that minimizes individual liberty. We must promote the freedom that was the original vision of America’s Founding Fathers. Tearing down the Bill of Rights and calling a Constitutional Convention is the wrong path. Americans must demand the Bill of Rights be adhered to and not flaunted so blatantly.
In the beginning of the republic, there was a clear belief in liberty as the guiding ideology. The Founding Fathers provided a framework from which to progress, adapt, and evolve over the years not burdened by divisive notions of partisanship. In America’s genesis, the guiding vision was: the individual’s freedom and liberty comes before the needs of the State…most of the time. The focus truly was on the individual. Their freedom mattered at least as much as what was best for the State, for business, or the oft-cited, public safety.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are still the best weapons against tyranny. Like the wielding of any weapon though, it requires courage. It requires the courage to embrace and exercise the rights that individuals are guaranteed by the Constitution. Unfortunately, individuals have been tempted to turn over too many of their freedoms to authorities under the influence of the siren song of safety. The Bill of Rights empowers the individual citizen to effect change, but citizens must act and be engaged. Freedom and individual rights are the real defense against those that would loot the nation’s treasury and drive the nation into a ditch.
The first ten amendments to the Constitution have been watered down or practically repealed in today’s America. America is struggling, and must return to its roots to save the republic. Americans should understand the individual constitutional rights of the citizens are the foundation of the United States. The individual’s power is the base upon which the entire republic rests. Freedom is messy, but it also brings vitality and security in ways that often are not immediately clear.
We are a quilt. We should add to it and not tear it to shreds. The Bill of Rights is part of the quilt. Embrace it. Use it. Push back. We all have the power according to this foundational document. The Bill of Rights is our shield to protect ourselves and our weapon to fight back.