Friday, May 28, 2010

The Democratic Platform by David Barton

Even with the massive voter intimidation in Wade Hampton’s election, it was still so close that no winner emerged. After massive controversy, confusion, and finally court intervention, the Democrat Hampton was declared the winner and became governor, but only under extremely questionable circumstances. 163 In fact, the editorial cartoons in Harper’s following that election showed a triumphant Democrat standing over the bodies of slaughtered African American voters.

Considering the Klan-like support that Hampton received, it is no wonder that when he became the Democratic governor of the State, civil rights reforms in South Carolina came to a halt.

However, returning to General Hampton’s role at the Democratic National Convention of 1868, as a member of the Resolutions Committee, he inserted a clause in the Democratic platform declaring that the civil rights laws of the Congress were “unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void.” 166 In fact, throughout that platform Democrats lashed out against the Republican civil rights measures, demanding “the abolition of the Freedmen’s Bureau and all political instrumentalities designed to secure Negro supremacy.” That platform further complained: Instead of restoring the Union, it the Republican Party has – so far as in its power – dissolved it, and subjected ten States, in time of profound peace, to military despotism and Negro supremacy.

Clearly, the errant claims in this Democratic plank are ludicrous, for the years from 1865-1868 were marked not by “profound peace” but rather by profound violence, characterized by the rapid and expansive growth of the Klan and similar organizations perpetrating numerous deadly attacks against African Americans. The ten States that Democrats claim were “subjected to military despotism and Negro supremacy” were ten of the Democratic States that had seceded to form the slave-holding Confederate States of America, and the “despotism” to which they were subjected was nothing more than the requirements that they recognize the civil rights of African Americans. Ironically, Democrats were so accustomed to the suppression of black Americans that simply to give them equality was absurdly considered to be “Negro supremacy.” To Democrats in that day, equality for blacks – that is, making blacks and whites equal before the law – meant “Negro supremacy”!

The other featured portrait in the handbill of the 1868 national Democratic delegates was that of Rebel General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest had been a slave-trader from Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest Tennessee and was the Rebel General who conducted the massacre of black soldiers in the infamous bloody episode at Fort Pillow. After the black Union soldiers had surrendered, Forrest ordered them slaughtered on the spot, using some of the most barbaric and inhumane tortures and atrocities available, including nailing black soldiers to the sides of buildings and then burning down the buildings, drowning others, and even burying black soldiers alive. 169 After the War, General Nathan Bedford Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan 170 – and he was an honored leader at the Democratic National Convention of 1868! Given the composition of the Democratic Party, it is no wonder that not one of the Democrats in Congress voted for the 14th Amendment to secure civil rights for black Americans at the State level.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In its first ten years inside the Capitol, the Court bounced around from location to location – from various committee rooms to library rooms to whatever was available. Then, in 1810, when the Senate left its original chamber and moved directly upstairs to what is now called the Old Senate Chamber, the Supreme Court inherited the vacated downstairs Senate chamber. early city plan for washington, d. c.

It was in that room – the basement of the Old Senate Chamber – that the Supreme Court found its first permanent home and the location that it kept for the next 50 years. Then, when the Senate vacated its second home in the Old Senate Chamber and moved into its third and current home, the Supreme Court moved upstairs to possess the again vacated Senate Chamber.

David Barton explains that the Supreme Court had no building of its own was intentional; it reflected the Founders’ design that the Court should have no major role in shaping policy in the nation. Simply look at the Constitution for proof: Article I deals with the powers of the Congress; Article II with the powers of the President, and Article III with the powers of the Supreme Court. Article I is by far the longest of those three articles, and Article III is obviously the shortest.

Even though the Founders believed that a Supreme Court was important, it was so insignificant in the overall view of government, that John Jay, the original Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, retired from his position after only six years because, as he observed, the Supreme Court would never amount to anything much. 79 In fact, for the first 10 years of its existence, the entire Supreme Court term lasted less than two weeks each year; and for the next fifty years, the Court still met for only six to eight weeks a year. 80

It was not until 1935 – nearly a century-and-a-half after the Founders had written the Constitution – that a separate building was built behind the Capitol to house the Supreme Court, the home it occupies today. And it was not until two decades after this, in the late 1950s, that the Supreme Court, under the guidance of its activist Chief Justice, Earl Warren, first began to meet for nearly nine months 81 out of each year – a practice which still continues today.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Justice on Court By David Barton

Yet, despite the Court’s original lack of stature, there were several interesting practices of the Court which contribute much to our rich spiritual heritage. One of those practices was instituted by the first Justices on the Court.

According to David Barton there were six original Justices appointed to the Supreme Court by President George Washington. They included its Chief Justice, John Jay, an author of The Federalist Papers; three signers of the Constitution: James Wilson, John Blair, and John Rutledge (who later became the Court’s second Chief Justice); and James Iredell and William Cushing (who helped secure the ratification of the Constitution).

In its first years, the Supreme Court functioned much like the old circuit courts; it traveled from place to place across America to hear cases and to convene grand juries. One of the practices of the Court – a practice conducted under these original Justices – was the regular offering of prayers in the Courtroom. 82

According to the records of the Supreme Court as well as the newspapers of the day, juries in the Supreme Court did not begin their work until after a minister had come into the Courtroom and prayed – for the Court, the jurors, and their deliberations! In fact, a newspaper account in the Columbian Centinel of May 16, 1792, reports very simply:

[O]n Monday, Chief Justice [John] Jay gave a charge to the Grand Jury, replete with his usual perspicuity and elegance. The prayer was made by the Rev. Dr. Parker. His Excellency, the Vice-President of the United States [John Adams], was in Court. 83

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


David Barton explains that our Founding Fathers never saw such practices as a problem, for
they never envisioned any hostility toward religion or any exclusion of religious faith or practice from public life. This was especially true when it came to religion and the law. Explicit proof of this is offered by one of the Court’s original members – Justice James Wilson.

Before becoming a member of the Supreme Court, Wilson had signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (one of only six Founders to hold that distinction). At the Constitutional Convention, Wilson had been its second most-active member, speaking on the floor of the Convention 168 times.

James Wilson is credited with starting the first organized legal training in America for law students. 84 He wrote several legal works, including a 1792 Commentary on the Constitution of the United States of America, and a three-volume set of legal lectures, delivered to law students while Wilson was sitting as a Justice on the Court. Notice what Justice Wilson taught his students about the relationship between law and religion:

It should always be remembered that this law, . . . made for men or for nations, flows from the same Divine source: it is the law of God. . . . What we do, indeed, must be founded on what He has done; and the deficiencies of our laws must be supplied by the perfections of His. Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law which is Divine. . . . We now see the deep and the solid foundations of human law. . . .