Ron DeSantis, Florida's newly elected Republican governor, has faced numerous accusations of racism while serving in Congress and during his campaign for governor.
American Ledger — a project of the super PAC American Bridge — has discovered a book DeSantis wrote in 2011, called Dreams From Our Founding Fathers, that both excuses and justifies the inclusion of slavery in the U.S. Constitution.
As the political-opposition research group American Bridge discovered yesterday, portions of the book rationalize the fact that the U.S. Constitution allowed slavery. DeSantis rails against former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who once said the Founding Fathers were hypocrites for creating a so-called free state that allowed slavery.
DeSantis also incorrectly claims in the book that the Three-Fifths Compromise — the heinous law that counted black people as three-fifths of a human for purposes of representation in Congress — "benefited anti-slavery states." This is simply inaccurate: Blacks at the time could not vote, but the provision gave slave-holding states extra representatives in Congress.
DeSantis castigates Marshall for stating the Constitution was "misguided from the start" for allowing slavery. DeSantis says Marshall's opinions "miss the mark" and that it's somehow unfair to the Founding Fathers to call them out for keeping slavery legal when the Constitution was written in 1787. In fact, DeSantis dubiously argues, the Constitution was actually good because it set up a system in which slavery was eventually "designed to fail."
The Florida Republican excused the incorporation of slavery at the country’s founding, arguing that no founding would have occurred if opponents of slavery would have pushed too hard.
This is why there was no real chance that the Convention would abolish the peculiar institution of slavery. Some of the notorious compromises that demonstrated a toleration of slavery, such as the “federal ratio,” which allowed the slave-holding states to count 5 slaves as the equivalent of 3 free citizens (the free states did not want slaves counted at all because they did not want the political power of slave states to be enhanced), were even thought to be necessary to ensure ratification. Hamilton, a counselor to the New York Manumission Society, later lamented that without such a compromise “no union could possibly have been formed.” Similarly, Benjamin Franklin, who served as president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, declined to read a letter to the Convention delegates from the Society that denounced slavery on religious and republican grounds. Franklin did not want to derail the Convention by further inflaming the delegates over the issue of slavery, and believed that the United States could not last without a new federal government, for, as he wrote in his final Convention speech, “our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another’s throats.” For anti-slavery delegates like Hamilton and Franklin, abolition of slavery would be a moot point if a failure to erect a functioning government snuffed out the ideals of the American Revolution in their infancy; then, the future of all Americans, the free as well as the slave, would eventually be as serfs to a despotic government.
It seems that in DeSantis’s view, the “legalized enslavement, mass torture, and killing of kidnapped Africans” was a fair price to pay for the beginning of a new and (partially) free country.