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The best defense of Jefferson is this attack on him by the Confederate vice-president

“The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution, African slavery, as it exists amongst us, the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the storm came and the wind blew.”

From the “Corner Stone” Speech, by Alexander H. Stephens, Savannah, Georgia, March 21, 1861


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"But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted."

This has interesting implications for an "originalist" view of the constitution. What does one do if the explicit intent of the authors was one thing: "secur[ing] every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last". Yet the "ideas of the day" - exactly counter to the intent - slipped in to the text - and was therefore a beacon for human rights (or a fatal flaw).

From a different post, I see you clearly think beacon. I don't know that you take an originalist view, but if you do (or if one does in general), isn't one here committed to the fatal flaw view?

There were grave flaws baked into our country at its founding, but unlike Alexander Stephens, I don't consider them fatal. And for me, they don't lead to a conclusion that the Constitution should be scrapped, or that its meaning should be ignored or pseudo-reinterpreted at will. If that's what you are asking about.

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