Day 1,460: On MLK Day, Trump admin publishes report defending founders owning slaves, attacking civil rights movement

The report, written by a group of mostly white and conservative academics, claims that the nation’s founders detested slavery even though many of them owned enslaved people. It suggests that Declaration of Independence eventually led to the end of slavery in the U.S., barely mentioning the Civil War’s decisive role in abolition.

Scholars assailed the report, with one comparing it to a “bad middle school civic textbook from 1955” and another dismissing it as “racist nonsense from the early 20th century, accentuated by some Southern Strategy and culture war paranoia.”

The report, released less than two weeks after supporters of the President stormed the US Capitol building, calls today’s ideological divisions akin to those experienced during the Civil War.

“Americans are deeply divided about the meaning of their country, its history, and how it should be governed. This division is severe enough to call to mind the disagreements between the colonists and King George, and those between Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War,” the report states.

The report’s authors also argue that “the Civil Rights Movement was almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders,” specifically criticizing affirmative action policies.

The report notably defends the country’s Founding Fathers, who owned slaves, arguing that slavery was not “a uniquely American evil” and urging that “the institution be seen in a much broader perspective.”

The report goes on to justify the Three-fifths Compromise — in which white lawmakers from Northern and Southern states in 1787 agreed to count Black people as three-fifths of a person for congressional representation — saying that this was “just that: compromises,” and that, “as a question of practical politics, no durable union could have been formed without a compromise among the states on the issue of slavery.”

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