Bachmann Palin Overdrive: More Populist Revisionism from GOP Candidates

By The Intersection | June 28, 2011 9:51 pm

by Jon Winsor

Earlier we wrote about Sarah Palin’s populist revision of Paul Revere’s ride, and about historians who were troubled by the tea party’s creative history writing. Here’s another one: Michelle Bachmann claims that “the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery.” How could this be when four of the first five presidents owned slaves?

Michelle Bachmann resolves this by drafting John Quincy Adams as a founding father:

John Quincy Adams is not too credible a founding father, considering he was only eight years old in 1776. But that didn’t stop a Bachmann supporter from backdating J. Q. Adams’ credentials as a founder on Wikipedia, or radio host Mark Levin from taking up her cause. (Somehow, for Levin, while Washington owned over 200 slaves, he “worked tirelessly to end slavery?”)


Comments (5)

  1. Robert

    This is not an “all or nothing” proposition. For instance, if you say that “Congress supported President Obama’s changes to the healthcare system”, this is not wrong because “every Republican congressperson didn’t support it”. It’s a general statement of the whole, not indicative of the beliefs of every single individual member.

    I would take issue with the working “tirelessly”, because only a few of the founding fathers actually took affirmative stances and sought to further anti-slavery laws. One being George Washington, who freed his slaves (yes, he did hold slaves, but that doesn’t mean that his stance and beliefs on that subject didn’t change over time) and also signed into law a ban on slavery in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

    While Bachmann (whom I am NOT a supporter of) takes liberties, and does get certain things wrong (such as J.Q. Adams being a founding father), she is correct in that many, if not most, of the founding fathers at one time or another expressed their distaste for slavery. Fewer of them actually worked towards a complete abolition of slavery. But as today, they were not of one mind and one accord on any issue, and to say that Bachmann is necessarily wrong in this regard (by ascribing the beliefs of some to the whole group), is just as wrong by the same logic.

  2. Chris Mooney

    If you follow the Mark Levin link you provided….

    …you find this quote from him:

    “The fact is that a number of prominent Founders did attempt to end or at least take on the issue of slavery, including Virginia’s George Mason, who was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. The inability to end slavery was among the reasons he refused to support the Constitution. While he was a slave-owner, he nonetheless opposed the institution going forward. Mason was no light-weight, either. He had authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which later served as the basis for James Madison’s draft of the Bill of Rights.
    The Constitution itself reflects some of the hard-fought compromises over slavery, resulting from the demands of anti-slavery delegates, including ending the importation of slaves on a date certain and diminishing the influence of the southern slave states in the federal House of Representatives with the three-fifth’s limit respecting apportionment.”

    Notice how someone who opposed the Constitution is being called a “Founder”…while the issue is partly semantic, I would say that this, too, is questionable history.

  3. Jim S

    Is this case Michelle is right. Many founding fathers did work hard to end slavery via the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Although they were not successful they did indeed create a new country with the structure to end slavery.

    Where is the Science in this article?

  4. Joshua B

    The previous poster Robert’s attempt to indirectly justify the absurd statement by Bachmann is equally as laughable. The misinformation disseminated by Tea Party activists and now a handful of unqualified Republicans (starting with Ms. Palin) is simply outrageous. It is very dangerous to continue to permit these individuals to float false history and not be accountable for their misinformation. Our standards for public figures should not be compromised; in fact, to the contrary, they should be heightened.

  5. JaySin420

    It’s pretty scary that politicians would rather re-write American history than admit they made a mistake.


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