Former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, now head of the Heritage Foundation, has an interesting version of the history of slavery in America or least how it ended. According to DeMint the federal government played no role in ending slavery. DeMint claimed the “move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government.”
For DeMint, the ending of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation amidst the American Civil War was somehow a cultural victory for limited government and Christian conservatives.
Newcombe: What if somebody, let’s say you’re talking with a liberal person and they were to turn around and say, ‘that Founding Fathers thing worked out really well, look at that Civil War we had eighty years later.’
DeMint: Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like Wilberforce who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.
Truly it must take a staggering amount of cognitive dissonance for anyone, let alone a man from the south, to believe this.
Without the federal government what would have happened? Let’s say a slave state like, I dunno, South Carolina had been able to leave the union. Would “people of faith” have ended slavery on their own? Highly unlikely. In fact, people of faith in South Carolina by and large not only did not object to slavery they participated in it often using biblical justifications for their exploitation. Slavery is, after all, an acceptable practice according to the bible.
The rewriting of history on the right has gone past opportunistic into the land of the absurd.