Jim DeMint: The Federal Government Played No Role In Freeing The Slaves
Former Senator Jim DeMint, now head of the Heritage Foundation has, shall we say, an interesting view of history:
Heritage Foundation head Jim DeMint appeared on Vocal Point with Jerry Newcombe of Truth In Action Ministries last week, where he insisted that “no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves.”
DeMint, a former US senator from South Carolina, told Newcombe that “the conscience of the American people” and not the federal government was responsible for the end of slavery.
In the interview, DeMint seemed to confuse the US Constitution with the Declaration of Independence and implied that William Wilberforce, a British politician who died almost thirty years before the Civil War, did more to end American slavery than the federal government.
Here’s the audio and transcript:
DeMint: This progressive, the whole idea of being progressive is to progress away from those ideas that made this country great. What we’re trying to conserve as conservative are those things that work. They work today, they work for young people, they work for minorities and we can change this country and change its course very quickly if we just remember what works.
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.
Given that he is a South Carolinian, it may not have occurred to DeMint that the end of slavery came at the end of the Civil War, which was in large part a war to preserve the primacy of the Federal Government, and that one of the requirements that the states of the defeated Confederacy had to meet prior to being formally readmitted to the Union was the adoption of the 13th Amendment, the Amendment to the Federal Constitution that abolished slavery. Indeed, the end of that war and the adoption of the 14th Amendment marked a decided shift in the balance of power in the United States toward the Federal Government. Even more ironic, of course, is the fact that it was DeMint’s Republican Party that held a nationalistic view of the Constitution even before the Civil War, and that Confederate leaders, and the defenders who continue to make excuses for them to this day, characterized the Civil War as a war being waged by the Federal Government against the people of the South. Given all of that, the assertion that Federal power had nothing to do with freeing the slaves is not only inaccurate, it’s delusional.