Some people suggest today that all early Americans must have been despicable to allow such an evil as slavery. They say early America should be judged as evil and sinful, and anything they have to say should be discounted. But if we were to judge modern America by this same standard, it would be far more wicked — we are not merely enslaving people, but we are murdering tens of millions of innocent unborn children through abortion. These people claim that they would not have allowed slavery if they were alive then. They would speak out and take any measures necessary. But where is their outcry and action to end slavery in the Sudan today? (And slavery there is much worse than that in early America.)
Some say we should not listen to the Founders of America because they owned slaves, or at least allowed slavery to exist in the society. However, if we were to cut ourselves off from the history of nations that had slavery in the past we would have to have nothing to do with any people because almost every society has had slavery, including African Americans, for many African societies sold slaves to the Europeans; and up to ten percent of blacks in America owned slaves.
The Founders Believed Slavery Was Fundamentally Wrong
The overwhelming majority of early Americans and most of America’s leaders did not own slaves. Some did own slaves, which were often inherited (like George Washington at age eleven), but many of these people set them free after independence. Most Founders believed that slavery was wrong and that it should be abolished. William Livingston, signer of the Constitution and Governor of New Jersey, wrote to an anti-slavery society in New York (John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and President of the Continental Congress, was President of this society):
"I would most ardently wish to become a member of it [the anti-slavery society] and . . . I can safely promise them that neither my tongue, nor my pen, nor purse shall be wanting to promote the abolition of what to me appears so inconsistent with humanity and Christianity. . . . May the great and the equal Father of the human race, who has expressly declared His abhorrence of oppression, and that He is no respecter of persons, succeed a design so laudably calculated to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke."
John Quincy Adams, who worked tirelessly for years to end slavery, spoke of the anti-slavery views of the southern Founders, including Jefferson who owned slaves:
"The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction than by the author of the Declaration himself. No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day. In the Memoir of His Life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning that the day was not distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves. “Nothing is more certainly written,” said he, “in the book of fate, than that these people are to be free.”
The Founding Fathers believed that blacks had the same God-given inalienable rights as any other peoples. James Otis of Massachusetts said in 1764 that
“The colonists are by the law of nature freeborn, as indeed all men are, white or black.”
There had always been free blacks in America who owned property, voted, and had the same rights as other citizens. Most of the men who gave us the Declaration and the Constitution wanted to see slavery abolished. For example, George Washington wrote in a letter to Robert Morris: "I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery]."
Charles Carroll, Signer of Declaration from Maryland, wrote:
"Why keep alive the question of slavery? It is admitted by all to be a great evil."
Benjamin Rush, Signer from Pennsylvania, stated:
"Domestic slavery is repugnant to the principles of Christianity. . . . It is rebellion against the authority of a common Father. It is a practical denial of the extent and efficacy of the death of a common Savior. It is an usurpation of the prerogative of the great Sovereign of the universe who has solemnly claimed an exclusive property in the souls of men."
Father of American education, and contributor to the ideas in the Constitution, Noah Webster wrote:
"Justice and humanity require it [the end of slavery] — Christianity commands it. Let every benevolent . . . pray for the glorious period when the last slave who fights for freedom shall be restored to the possession of that inestimable right."
Quotes from John Adams reveal his strong anti-slavery views:
"Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States. . . . I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in . . . abhorrence. My opinion against it [slavery] has always been known. . . . [N]ever in my life did I own a slave."
When Benjamin Franklin served as President of the Pennsylvania Society of Promoting the Abolition of Slavery he declared: “Slavery is . . . an atrocious debasement of human nature.”
Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration included a strong denunciation of slavery, declaring the king’s perpetuation of the slave trade and his vetoing of colonial anti-slavery measures as one reason the colonists were declaring their independence:
"He [King George III] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere. . . . Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce."
Prior to independence, anti-slavery measures by the colonists were thwarted by the British government. Franklin wrote in 1773:
"A disposition to abolish slavery prevails in North America, that many of Pennsylvanians have set their slaves at liberty, and that even the Virginia Assembly have petitioned the King for permission to make a law for preventing the importation of more into that colony. This request, however, will probably not be granted as their former laws of that kind have always been repealed."
Written by Steven K. McDowell,
President - Providence Foundation
California is not talked about too much in the context of the American Civil War (1861-65).
It had only joined the Union in 1850 and was far from the main action in the east of the USA.
However, California did have a part to play during the US Civil War.
California and Statehood
It was prior to 1850 that the true nature of the Wild West existed in California, this pristine region of the country. Ideology was split, and even within the split, there was further fracturing due to cultural differences as well as consistent fighting for property rights. The discovery of gold exacerbated the issue of regional turmoil as California was pulled into the US Civil War. This is just the tip of the iceberg on how California existed during this era. Many, or almost all people, are not aware of how truly important California as a region was during the Civil War.
California and Californians themselves endured in its struggle and existence. California had essentially wrapped itself in the American Civil War in politics, finances, and culture. California ethos (or ideology) was absolutely split politically. In hindsight, it was seemingly more than “Blue & Grey” ideology in a state that was overwhelmingly Native American. California had always been home to a Native American and slave population well before being “settled” by Americans East of the Mississippi.
It all started when California made statehood in 1850. Soon thereafter in 1859, the legislature of California was split into two states – Northern California and Southern California (as Colorado Territory). Even though Southern California was part of the Union, it had strong Confederate sympathies. These Confederate ties were due to the large number of Southerners who had transplanted to the Southern California area during the famous Gold Rush. This mass-relocation showed its evidence in the 1860 presidential elections. Lincoln had received only 25% of the Los Angeles vote.
On the brink of the Civil War California chose the Union, abandoning three other choices: secession, neutrality, and independence. Arguments and counterarguments were made from every political and civic level of the community. It seemed as though some people were in doubt and tossed about in which decision it should have been. Although California was isolated from the conflict in the East and despite the diversified political beliefs of her people, a feeling of loyalty to the United States and federal government was overwhelming. California Republican and Union-Democratic leaders expressed an unwavering loyalty in a multitude of ways.
Ultimately, the Unionist political candidates took over two-thirds of the votes for state government. Various estimates have been guessed regarding the number of pro-Confederates in the population in California. Indeed, although the loyalty of the state appeared evident, militias were activated.
Revenue and Turmoil
Oaths of loyalty were required for certain groups and individuals, and of course occasional military arrests were made to solidify loyalty. Regardless, California would end up being a major financial contributor to the federal government during the Civil War, because the gold deposits were direct revenue to pay for war costs. In fact, quite a large portion of the federal government’s war budget was reinforced by new gold from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. General Grant, in fact, said, "I do not know what we could do in this great national emergency, were it not for the gold sent from California.”
The U.S Army built and operated many fortifications along frontier trails in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. What people do not know is that although California leaned towards the Union, they were so wrapped up in their own civil discord at home they were not able to send organized regiments east. In late 1861, a Confederate Brigadier General Henry Sibley was allowed to open up an easier route into California through northern Arizona Territory, with further instruction to capture the gold fields in San Francisco by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. This instruction would be for the purpose of a preemptive strike against the Unionist state and in turn show how significant California really was in the Civil War.
Little did both sides realize, California was in regional turmoil on its own accord without the help of a formal war. Now, aside from the status quo bleeding “Blue & Grey,” some non-traditional elements to the war are that the settlers who had come to California were still dealing with the effects of settling tribal lands, adding negative social, criminal, and economic dilemmas between the local Native American tribes, settlers, and the U.S. government.For example, in Humboldt County (approximately 271 miles north of San Francisco) on March 29, 1862, a Humboldt Times headline read, “Horrible Indian Outrages!—The Savages Become Bolder!”
In this letter submitted to the paper’s editors on March 27, 1862, the citizens of Arcata were “really alarmed at the extent of their (the Native America) evil deeds and the increased boldness and daring… “. The letter states that local natives shot Mr. Zehendner and burned his home, burnt Goodman’s house and the next day, Mrs. Brehmer’s. On Friday, March 28, Augustus Bates was shot and killed. The natives burned his house. The letter ends, “What a sudden reverse - peace and fancied security one day - death and destruction the next. Surely human life is mutable and occurrences like this bring the fact impressively to our mind. This is a gloomy letter, and ours is a gloomy town. I can think and write of nothing else.”
Still The Wild West
On April 2, 1862, many of the citizens of Arcata signed a petition asking the military to remove all the Native Americans from the county completely and push them far away. They went on to state that they didn’t want them in Mendocino County or Crescent City – as it was too easy to get back. This shows that California was essentially dealing with its own problems, as well as the internal war. With a combination of civic non-cohesion of indigenous native populations, the settlers of the newly established towns, and with the two warring governments remaining active in the state, it appears as though both the centralized governments failed to see the deeper issue residing in California.
Overall, there were handfuls of land skirmishes in California. Within the timeline of the war, California seemed to be most concerned with keeping political tension at a minimum. A further example of the civil issues that California would have to navigate would be the Bullion Bend Robbery.Two stagecoaches were robbed of their silver and gold near Placerville. A letter was left for authorities explaining that they were not committed criminals but carrying out a subversive operation to funnel money to the Confederacy.
In 1864, a magistrate and handful of men became known as the Partisan Rangers.They sacked the property of Union-loyal civilians in the rural and outlying areas around Stockton. For the next two years they posed as “Confederate Partisan Rangers” but acted out criminally. They were found committing robberies, thefts, and murders located in the counties of San Joaquin Valley, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara, and a few other counties located in Southern California.
A final notable incident required a superb show of force by the Federal Cavalry in the streets of San Bernardino at the end of election day in September of 1864. They quelled a Confederate political demonstration during the gubernatorial elections in San Bernardino County.
California’s Permanent Divide
After the Civil War ended in California the state took greater control and quickly began to integrate the counties of what would end up being on today’s political boundary maps. With the last of the Pacific coast Native Americans being rounded up to be placed on reservations and the fizzling out of what would come to be known as Westward Expansion, the state would start to consolidate its power as the new and now truly established authority in the West.
It was now no longer considered the Wild West – as you would see on old black and white Western movies. Even so, the Union won the Civil War and California adopted the Union’s policies, politically--there would always be a permanently heavy Democratic and Republican divide that would simmer beneath the voting cracks.
Daniel L. Smith
Charles B. Turrill."San Francisco and the Civil War." Museum of the City of San Francisco. Last modified 1876. http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist5/civwar.html.
“Horrible Indian Outrages! - The Savages Become Bolder!”The Humboldt Times, March 29th, 1862. p.3 col. 1.
Brian McGinty. "I Will Call a Traitor a Traitor: Albert Sidney Johnston." Civil War Times Illustrated, 1981.
John Boessenecker (1993). Badge and Buckshot: Lawlessness in Old California.Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 133–157. ISBN 0806125101. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
William B. Secrest, (2007). California Badmen: Mean Men with Guns.Sanger, Calif.: Word Dancer Press. pp. 143–147. ISBN 1884995519. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
Henry Martyn Lazelle; Leslie J. Perry (1897). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
Kevin Starr. California: A History. New York: Modern Library, 2015
See my article at HISTORY-IS-NOW MAGAZINE
The whole idea of independent sovereignty with full “property rights” being given to the individual person—is a Christian concept that the natives observed. The Cherokee Constitution—was their tribal national constitution drafted to resemble the United States Constitution and the Georgia State Constitution (a slave owning state). As an example; it was a purposeful effort by the Cherokee Nation to adopt Western ideals, as through their observations they felt a sense order, structure, justice, and liberty. Hence, they moved to partition their Cherokee Nation from tribal culture, and establish a more formal and legal presence within North America.
In Article 2, section 1, “The power of the Government shall be divided into three distinct departments---the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judicial.” This is the same wording as the American Federal Constitution, in article 1, section 1. This evidence suggests that the Cherokee established their constitution under the same formatting as the Federal Government for reasons of: 1.) Tribal Security, 2.) Tribal Continuity, and 3.) Regional Relief of Tensions.
According to todayingeorgiahistory.org, “It was designed to solidify the tribe’s sovereignty and resist white encroachment and removal -- and to counter American citizens stereotyping of Indians as savages. The Cherokee constitution proved controversial with both other Cherokee, who saw it as a threat to tradition, and the state of Georgia, which thought it threatened its sovereignty over the tribe. Georgia continued, and succeeded in, its relentless pursuit of Cherokee removal, despite the Constitution adopted on July 26, 1827” 
It’s a hard lesson to bite. Especially when you learn that the Cherokee Nation was attempting to assimilate into American society as best as they could, all while maintaining their own sovereign identity. Oppositely though, it is quite hard to believe that there wasn’t political or cultural misconduct between Georgia and the Cherokee. Typically as it is in global politics, there is always a reaction to an action whether negative or positive in outcome.
I had an argument where a fellow peer said, "A constitution that has been in practice since before the upstate settlements in the 1600’s and may hold partial responsibility in the development of the settlers nation. As proof, they cite records kept by the colonists. An Onondaga named 'Canassatego', suggested that the colonists form a nation similar to the Iroquois Confederacy during a meeting of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania in Lancaster on June 25, 1744." This was a poor argument.
The ideals for some Native American nations, such as the Cherokee, predate any influence provided by the Europeans. We see most similarities in how these Native Americans formatted their laws to reflect that of the settlers. This was most likely done in the attempt to most effectively convey their already sovereign nations to these foreigners in a way that most effectively would do so."
I disagree that the ideals for some Native American nations, such as the Cherokee, predate any influence provided by the Europeans. There is nowhere in history that shows evidence that Native American political ideals predated European Influence. Especially when it comes to the Constitution of National Governments. Here is why: legalism and property ownership is a Christian principle (even though all cultures understand ownership over physical items).
An example here would be the Magna Charta of 1215. The Magna Charta was a signed document and statement that embodied the principle that both sovereign nations and sovereign people are beneath the law and subject to it. Later, both Englishmen and American Colonists cited the Magna Charta as a source of their freedom. Natives of North America did not have access to this document.
Even before 1215, Alfred the Great who ruled from 871-899 was a strict follower of Catholic Saint Patrick. After many Viking invasions, Alfred the Great instituted many Christian reforms in many areas of life, including government. These reforms were based on the Ten Commandments as the basis of law and adopted many other patterns of government based from the Hebrew Republic. My point here is that, there is no way Native Americans of North America could have established a style of "Christian Constitution" without direct Western European influence.
According to the Michael P. Gueno, “English common law jurists expounded upon the argument for the English monarchy’s right to conquer non-Christian territories, most articulately described in Lord Chief Justice Edward Coke’s dicta in Calvin’s Case. Coke argued that all non-Christians were perpetual enemies, of the Christian and by their very nature are in a state of war with Christian nations. However, despite the general consensus that Native American tribes lacked any rights to the territories that they occupied, in practice, colonists often felt compelled to obtain at least some formal semblance of legal consent from the tribes through treaties or purchase agreements to assert their claim upon tribal lands”. This further proves the principle foundation of ethics the Christians had towards the native tribes.
Mr. Gueno continues to state that, “Some colonists even denounced the unilateral rights and universal sovereignty of European Christians over the Native Americans. Colonial theologian Roger Williams rejected the assumption that being white and Christian were sufficient conditions to legitimize colonization or conversion. He argued that since Native Americans clearly believed that they owned the land, Native American–inhabited territories could not be legally treated as vacuum domicilium and settled without regard for tribal presence.” The context of property ownership was plainly understood between both parties. 
Gueno concludes, “Europeans continued to debate conflicting religious interpretations of Indian rights during the early North American colonial era. Yet, whenever Native Americans were numerous, proximate, and potentially threatening, colonizing peoples felt pressed to seek Indian consent for new settlements. Thus, European powers ascribed, to some extent, in practice and in theory a sufficient degree of sovereignty to Native tribes to legitimately transfer claim of lands and administer their own communities.”
It's a complex issue regarding North American history. Interpretations are one of the major battles in presenting history.
Facts are facts however, and objective evidence is always better than subjective! And legalism (including religion) grounds every culture on earth.
Written: January 20, 2019
 "1839 Constitution." Cherokee Nation, www.cherokeeobserver.org/Issues/1839constitution.html. Accessed 26 Nov. 2018.
 State of Georgia. "Cherokee Constitution." Todayingeorgiahistory.org/, 2013, www.todayingeorgiahistory.org/content/cherokee-constitution. Accessed 26 Nov. 2018
 David H. Getches, Charles F. Wilkinson, Robert A. Williams, Jr., Matthew L. M. Fletcher, & Kristen A. Carpenter, eds., Cases and Materials On Federal Indian Law, 7th ed. (Saint Paul, MN: West Academic Publishing, 2017), 63.
 Henry S. Commanger, ed., Documents of American History, 9th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1968), 5–10.
 Gueno, Michael P. "Native Americans, Law, and Religion in America." Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, 10 Nov. 2017, religion.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.001.0001/acrefore-9780199340378-e-140. Accessed 10 June 2018.