(How from the beginning white supremacy and class structures was deliberately built into the constitution of the United States) An adaptation of the works of historians Michael Parenti and Howard Zinn
The American “founding fathers” met in Philadelphia in 1787, to build a nation and write the constitution. Whilst the United States at the time was described as an egalitarian society, supposedly free of the want and wealth that characterised the European feudal system and class structures, the opposite was in fact true. There were landed estates and impressive colonial mansions that demonstrated a most impressive accumulation of wealth. So here are some interesting facts to put the current unequal system of economic distribution, and the income and wealth disparities between the white and black people into perspective:
From the earliest English settlements, men of influence received vast land grants from the British Crown
By the 1700’s three fourths of the acreage of New York State belonged to fewer than a dozen persons.
By the year 1760, fewer than 500 men in five colonial cities controlled most of commerce, the banking, the mining, the manufacturing and most of the newspapers and journals on the Eastern Seaboard and they owned most of the land.
As of 1787, property qualifications left more than a third of the white male population disfranchised, in fact, property qualifications for holding public office was so steep that most voters couldn’t qualify as candidates.
A member of the New Jersey would need to be worth at least 1000 pounds and be free of debt just to qualify to run for office.
All the men who got together in Philadelphia to frame the constitution were highly successful white planters, slave-holders, merchants, creditors, traders, bankers and manufacturers. Who else can take 4-months off work to sit in Philadelphia and debate constitutional principles?
Many of these men were linked to each other through trade, kinship and marriage, years of service in Congress, military service or diplomatic service. So whilst they may not have all known each other, there was an air of familiarity through being in similar circles, in other words, this was the first “Grand Old Boys Club.”
This was their remit or principle objectives:
They wanted to build a strong central government to efficiently deal with trade (amongst themselves) in the original thirteen states.
They wanted to build a strong central government to deal better with other nations.
But perhaps the third reason was the most important one, and the one historians of American constitutional history are uncomfortable with. The framers of the constitution were worried and fearful of a resurgent, restless and awakening population. There were riots and demonstrations from time to time, attempts to hijack state legislatures and the wealthy class viewed a strong central government as a vital means of protecting their business interests to the exclusion of all other newcomers. In other words, the wealthy wanted a strong central government to protect their economic and financial interests first and foremost.
In the light of the above, we quickly gain the understanding that the framers of the American constitution weren’t driven by noble motives, or high ideals. This was clearly a case of being motivated by the basest of human instincts, greed and preservation of self. They meant for the central government to be a stronger mechanism as a means of control from the perspective of their business interests and to protect them, the wealthy, against the unruly masses.
To be continued…