George Stephanopoulos thinks Ben Franklin isn’t a Founding Father?

Via Instapundit, Jeffrey Lord is having fun lecturing George Stephanopoulos by mentioning Founding Fathers who opposed slavery, contra Stephanopoulos’ rather ignorant statement here to Rep. Michele Bachmann:

For example earlier this year you said that the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery. Now with respect Congresswoman, that’s just not true.

We can go ’round and ’round about whether John Quincy Adams counts – I personally would have him count as one, or at least not quibble overmuch over it – but let’s talk about some non-Virginians, shall we?

  • Benjamin Franklin. If Ben Franklin isn’t a Founding Father, then the term is meaningless anyway. Long sympathetic to abolitionist views, he spent the last years of his life (and the first years of the public) as an open advocate for abolition and integration.
  • John Adams. Also on every list of Founding Fathers that there are. Balance his reluctance to push for too-public a dispute over slavery with his writing the Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts portion of the Massachusetts Constitution.
  • John Jay. Likewise on the lists (also, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). Despite being a slaveowner himself, Jay pushed for abolition and manumission in New York for over twenty years; he finally succeeded in passing manumission legislation as Governor.

Lord also brought up Alexander Hamilton, who was definitely down on the practice; and of course southern Founders like Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and others were certainly not unaware of the contradictions between slavery and the founding principles of the Republic. But what we seem to be having from Stephanopoulos here is yet another example of a pundit who is so eager to score a ‘Gotcha!’ moment off of a conservative politician (particularly a female conservative politician) that said pundit ends up saying something that’s even more dunderheaded. Frankly, I’d rather be known for arguing that JQ Adams was a Founding Father, than have it suggested that I thought that Ben Franklin was not one…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: If you think that this entire post was a bit nit-picky, well, take it up with Stephanopoulos.  I’m just following the ground rules that he set up.


  • Rob Crawford says:

    I don’t think it’s so much their eagerness for a “gotcha” moment. I think it’s that they HAVE NO IDEA THEMSELVES. The left — primarily the self-proclaimed “elite” — are so invested in the Chomskyite “America Was Born in the Sin of Slavery” storyline that they’ve blinded themselves to the possibility of the story being more complicated.

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  • NotSoBlueStater says:

    I get your point, Moe, but I still think this sort of thing exposes Bachmann. If she had made a qualifying statement like “Not many people realize that…”, then her comment would have sounded intellectual. Instead, she sounds like somebody who thinks the first shot in the Revolutionary War was fired in New Hampshire.

    And yet she is so CLEARLY getting the Palin treatment from the left these days that I want to defend her. Just not seeing it on this one, though.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      Bachmann’s a grown woman; she can take care of herself. But George needs to learn to check the questions that his writers write for him before he throws them out there all snarky-like.

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