What We Must Remember
For many millennia, the adage, "The sins of the father are visited upon their sons..." has been used to explain various problems facing the younger generation. Interestingly, there are countless examples of this truism being worked out for many generations. An excellent example can be found in early US history. America did not want having England dominate the colonies and started the American Revolution to severer that tie.
Even more interesting is that in 1922, the British Empire consisted of 20% of the world's population and 25% of the earth's landmass.
Today, what remains of the British Empire is Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, a section of Antarctica, and a dozen small islands scattered around the world. Scotland will vote on the question of independence in less than six months. Apparently, there have not been any countries that have wanted to remain under British domination except for those in the British Isles and a group of island scattered around the various oceans. America and every other former colony wanted autonomy and freedom.
The colonists met in Philadelphia and debated the Declaration of Independence. It must have been a wondrous time. Our Founding Fathers debated how they could become independent and what would be the basis of that fledgling nation.
One of our great Founding Fathers was Thomas Jefferson. In fact, he wrote almost all of the Declaration of Independence beginning with these words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created..."
Really? While that opening line of the Declaration of Independence was a great and clarion call heard for all, who were the all? The answer was white males. Equality was for all white males. It did not include women nor slaves of either sex.
John Adams was not convinced that the Declaration of Independence was a virtuous clarion call as Jefferson and many of the other Founding Fathers thought it was. Here is Adams arguing the point in the play, 1776.
The issue of women and slaves was not addressed. Jefferson wrote what he believed, and that was both racist and sexist. We tend to overlook his missteps regarding both those issues.
Nevertheless, if that was not bad enough, Jefferson tragically blended both sexism and racism. Sally Heming was a slave of his at Monticello. Jefferson and Heming had at least one child and possibly up to six children together. While women and slaves are not equal, they were good enough for sex. You know what Forrest Gump would have said about Jefferson's conduct. "Stupid is as stupid does."
Therefore, Jefferson and many from the North and South ignored pressing social issues while mouthing superlatives about our nation's greatness in comparison to the rest of the world. We see this American exceptionalism throughout our entire history as a nation. We also see how the sins of the father are visited upon the next generations.
Here is an interesting story of racism and the American Revolution. Today, the name of General Benjamin Lincoln is hardly known. However, during the American Revolution, he was George Washington's second-in-command and was important during the Revolution. He was in charge of what was called the Southern department under George Washington, i.e. Lincoln was the commander of the entire army in the South.
Lincoln's headquarters was in Charleston, SC. However, the British had landed thousands of troops and had many ships surrounding the fort from the sea. Lincoln was vastly outnumbered and outgunned. He wrote to the South Carolinian legislature requesting of them to give him a 1,000-armed slaves to help defend his army under siege in Charleston.
The legislature refused. Lincoln had to surrender 5,000 soldiers to the British general or face certain death of his army. What resulted were the loss of the entire southern army and the greatest defeat of the colonialists during the war.
Lincoln, who was a prisoner of war, was exchanged later for a British general who was held by the Americans. Lincoln rejoined Washington for the remainder of the war. In fact, he was present at siege of Yorktown and the resultant surrender of the British army under Cornwallis. Cornwallis did not attend the formal surrender himself but had his second-in-command present Cornwallis' sword to Washington. Washington refused to accept Cornwallis' sword from the British second-in-command. Instead, his second-in-command, Lincoln, accepted it.
American Revolution took longer with more lives lost, because the racist slave owners in South Carolina did not want possibly to lose some slaves who might just run away after helping Lincoln. Here was an example of the sins of the fathers played out at the cost of many lives of the Americans during the American Revolution. However, in less than a century, nearly 700,000 Americans died during the Civil War because of the issue of slavery still had not been addressed. Adams was correct about addressing it at the time of the Declaration of Independence. It would have saved nearly ¾ of a million lives and a vast treasure of money.
Additionally, the slaves were in a strange catch-22 situation. If Southern slaves fought on the side of the revolutionaries, they would have assured that white colonists would be free of the English, but the slaves would remain the colonists' slaves.
There have been 238-years since the Declaration of Independence. Look at where we are with issue of racism and sexism. A century after the Revolution, we had a Civil War, which finally addressed overt racism. Then for another century, the South replaced slavery with segregation. We started to address segregation a century after the Civil War. A half century after the civil rights movement in the 60s, we are dealing with the birthers. We have a president that was born in Kenya according to them. Forrest Gump would respond to the birthers by quoting his mother's comment, "Stupid is as stupid does." The birthers are the result of the sins of their racist fathers...excluding John Adams.
Racism is a sin, but so also is sexism. While white males started to address racism according to the Constitution as equals, they could vote. Black males could vote for over a half century before any women could...regardless of her skin color. "The sins of the father and mothers are visited upon their sons and daughters..."
Visit the Burma Independence page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Scottish Independence page to read more about this topic.
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Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.