Recent months have seen a lot of discussion over the relationship between America’s founding and the awful institution of slavery. According to some writers, the Founding Fathers took a pro-slavery position and drafted the Constitution with the intention of protecting slavery on a permanent basis. Others take a more moderate view: The Founders may not have been pro-slavery, but they also didn’t oppose it, and they never intended, when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, that the phrase “all men are created equal” would include black Americans. Instead, it was abolitionists in the 19th century who began re-interpreting the Declaration as an anti-slavery document.
In the new online journal The Dispatch, Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation Timothy Sandefur argues that this, too, is wrong. The Declaration of Independence meant just what it said—and that’s why slavery’s defenders in the years before the Civil War, were so eager to repudiate it outright or to twist or ignore its words. Read more on the In Defense of Liberty blog.