Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chris Matthews' 'Don't Know Much About History' Blunder on Hardball

I found this yesterday on Huffpo.  Though suffering through a cold usually makes one numb to what else goes on in the world, I had to gasp at this interview they pulled off of Chris Matthews' Hardball earlier this week:

Wow, talk about biting it on national television with a shameful showing of the utter lack of knowledge on the US Constitution and American history. On Tuesday, leftist lackey Chris Matthews went on a jaundiced tirade against Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's speech for the Iowans for Tax Relief. Specifically, he derided Rep. Bachmann's citation of John Quincy Adams as one of this country's forebearers who worked tirelessly for abolition.

Actually, let me change that. Chris Matthews doesn't have a "lack" of knowledge about the US Constitution and the history of abolition; he has a lack of accurate knowledge about the US Constitution and the history of abolition. He has drunk the liberal historical revisionism that many high school teachers and college professors now pour down the throats of our impressionable students who haven't understood history as it was between the Constitutional Congress and the Civil War. Let's let the circumstances back then speak for themselves.

- John Quincy Adams: according to biographies of Adams' life, he repeatedly attempted to introduce bills by abolitionist groups into Congress calling for the abolition of slavery. Such was the opposition to his ongoing attempts, Southern Democrats passed a number of gag rules in order to prevent Adams from introducing any more abolitionist bills.
"Throughout he was conspicuous as an opponent of the extension of slavery, though he was never technically an abolitionist, and in particular he was the champion in the House of Representatives of the right of petition at a time when, through the influence of the Southern members, this right was, in practice, denied by that body. His prolonged fight for the repeal of the so-called "Gag Laws" is one of the most dramatic contests in the history of the U.S. Congress. The agitation for the abolition of slavery, which really began in earnest with the establishment of the Liberator by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831, soon led to the sending of innumerable petitions to congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, over which the Federal government had jurisdiction, and for other action by congress with respect to that institution. These petitions were generally sent to Adams for presentation. They aroused the anger of the pro-slavery members of congress, who, in 1836, brought about the passage of the first "Gag Rule", the Pinckney Resolution, presented by Henry L. Pinckney, of South Carolina. It provided that all petitions relating to slavery should be laid on the table without being referred to committee or printed; and, in substance, this resolution was re-adopted at the beginning of each of the immediately succeeding sessions of congress, the Patton Resolution being adopted in 1837, the Atherton Resolution, or "Atherton Gag", in 1838, and the Twenty-first Rule in 1840 and subsequently until repealed. Adams contended that these "Gag Rules" were a direct violation of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and refused to be silenced on the question, fighting for repeal with indomitable courage, in spite of the bitter denunciation of his opponents. Each year the number of anti-slavery petitions received and presented by him increased; perhaps the climax was in 1837, when Adams presented a petition from twenty-two slaves, and, when threatened by his opponents with censure, defended himself with remarkable keenness and ability. At each session, also, the majority against him decreased until in 1844 his motion to repeal the Twenty-first Rule was carried by a vote of 108 to 80 and his battle was won." (Source: NDDB biographies,
Incidentally (or not incidentally, if you believe in Divine Providence as I do), in the last year of Adams' life, he mentored a young Congressman to work toward abolition. This Congressman later went on to become the 16th President of the United States. Oh, what was his name? Abraham Lincoln. (Watch this history video about John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln:

- the Three-Fifths Clause in the US Constitution: historical revisionism has erased the word "compromise" from the Three-Fifths Compromise as written in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3. Why? Because the word "compromise" could cause people to ask questions over what the compromise was about. In the runup to this clause in the Constitution, slave-holding states wanted their slaves to be included in the state population to give them more seats in Congress and votes in the electoral college. Morally, this was outrageous, for using slaves to increase your representation in Congress was insult beyond subjugation, not to mention an unfair advantage in congressional representation against Northern states. Abolitionists moved to oppose such accounting, wanting slaves not to be included at all. In a compromise, Congress adopted the Three-Fifths rule to appease the Democrats yet limit their power.

From Gary Wills, "Negro President”: Jefferson and the Slave Power, cited on Wikipedia: The three-fifths ratio, or "Federal ratio" had a major effect on pre-Civil War political affairs due to the disproportionate representation of slaveholding states relative to voters. For example, in 1793 slave states would have been apportioned 33 seats in the House of Representatives had the seats been assigned based on the free population; instead they were apportioned 47. In 1812, slaveholding states had 76 instead of the 59 they would have had; in 1833, 98 instead of 73. As a result, southerners dominated the Presidency, the Speakership of the House, and the Supreme Court in the period prior to the Civil War.

Chris Matthews clearly needs to go back to school and read some real American history and apologize to Rep. Bachmann for inflicting his ignorance on her and the American public. Maybe then, he won't be as big of a "balloon head" who suffers from so much hoof-in-mouth disease on national television.