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James Madison and the American Colonization Society
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Now that David French is gone, Jay Nordlinger may be the worst writer at National Review. One can always count on him to defend the most useless points of view. He is true to form about Hungarian President Viktor Orban and the future of the American Right.

Mr. Nordlinger frets that President Orban’s national-conservative approach is “illiberal.” However, he concedes his own recycled Reaganism is failing, and that momentum is on the “illiberal” side. Perhaps conservatives, especially whites, are just tired of a movement that has delivered more than a half century of failure. Nothing daunted, Mr. Nordlinger tells his dwindling fanbase to “hang tough” and defend “Madisonian conservatism.”

There is a debate about the future of the American Right, and whether liberalism (classical or otherwise) or the Hungarian model is an example to follow. However, I’m struck by what Mr. Nordlinger may have regarded as a throwaway line. He assumes the validity of “Madisonian conservatism,” the American Constitutional framework of checks and balances between different branches of government. It is arguably outdated.

First, judges have undemocratically imposed sweeping transformations, with little reaction from conservatives. These include much of the racial revolution, including imposing desegregation, saving Proposition 187 from voters, and saving affirmative action. In “liberal democracy,” voters seem to have little power. The best we can do is vote for politicians who we hope will appoint the “right” judges. This is not the way the Constitution was supposed to work. Nullification and maybe even secession merit second looks.

Furthermore, the real competition for power in America is not between the executive and legislative branches, as the Founders expected. That rivalry is dwarfed by party rivalry, something the Founders never foresaw. Corporate power, or what we today call “Woke Capital,” is more powerful than both parties and arguably directs them both.

Finally, Mr. Nordlinger ignores what the Founders, including James Madison, thought about race. Madison was president not just of the United States, but later of the American Colonization Society. The ACS counted some of the greatest men in American history among its officers, including Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, James Monroe, Stephen Douglas, John Randolph, William Seward, Francis Scott Key, General Winfield Scott, John Marshall and Roger Taney. The ACS sought to send blacks back to Africa and achieved some success by founding Liberia. It would be hard to defend America’s traditional identity while condemning Jackson, Monroe, Marshall, and the author of the national anthem to damnatio memoriae.

Madison wanted gradual emancipation. After that, he proposed spending public money to give blacks “a prospect for success” in their new home. He had no intention of dumping them in Africa without help. This would have been an excellent form of reparations.

He wrote from Montpellier in 1819 (original spelling maintained):

To be consistent with existing and probably unalterable prejudices in the U. S. the freed blacks ought to be permanently removed beyond the region occupied by or allotted to a White population. The objections to a thorough incorporation of the two people, are with most of the Whites insuperable, and are admitted by all of them to be very powerful. If the blacks, strongly marked as they are, by physical & lasting peculiarities, be retained amid the whites, under the degrading privation of equal rights political or social, they must be always dissatisfied with their condition as a change only from one to another species of oppression; always secretly confederated agst. the ruling & privileged class; and always uncontroulled by some of the most cogent motives to moral and respectable conduct. The character of the freed blacks, even where their legal condition is least affected by their colour, seems to put these truths beyond question. It is material also that the removal of the blacks be to a distance precluding the jealousies & hostilities to be apprehended from a neighboring people stimulated by the contempt known to be entertained for their peculiar features; to say nothing of their vindictive recollections, or the predatory propensities which their State of Society might foster. Nor is it fair, in estimating the danger of collisions with the Whites, to charge it wholly on the side of the Blacks. There would be reciprocal antipathies doubling the danger.

Madison understood human nature. He acknowledged white “prejudices,” implying they are unfortunate, but he also acknowledged racial reality. Madison understood that blacks (even freed ones) would always feel insulted, dissatisfied and vindictive.

Has history proven him wrong? Centuries after slavery, secure in a regime of government privileges, it seems blacks are more dissatisfied than ever. Some Democrats demand reparations for slavery. Crime is soaring after “Black Lives Matter” protests. Some government schools teach critical race theory, which is state-mandated anti-white racism. If this is “liberal democracy,” it’s taking a strange form. Does Mr. Nordlinger believe our model is succeeding?

Blacks themselves seem to be returning to a “Madisonian” mentality. In Washington D.C., a ballot initiative calls for African American “autonomous zones.” Black students increasingly want racially separate graduation ceremonies. Democrats in power promote separate aid programs for black farmers and businesses. A group of blacks even tried to set up their own black settlement, “Freedomtown,” mostly with media support. There are race-driven policies and segregation today.

The Founding Fathers would not be welcome in Jay Nordlinger’s imaginary liberal democracy. Practically no Americans from before 1965 would be welcome. They were almost all white nationalists by today’s standards. Non-whites are correct not to care about James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or practically any other American leader before recent history. The Founders’ struggles and triumphs were irrelevant to them. America’s triumphs were over non-whites as European-Americans explored, settled, and conquered the continent. Does Mr. Nordlinger believe non-whites will rally to his call to defend James Madison’s conservatism against Viktor Orban? Even Ronald Reagan, who called African leaders “monkeys” who were “still uncomfortable wearing shoes,” isn’t likely to be a black icon.

Leftists understand what our Founders believed better than Mr. Nordlinger does. The Founders took the white identity of the United States for granted. They limited citizenship to whites in the first naturalization law. Thomas Jefferson, whose phrase “all men are created equal” has been so catastrophically misinterpreted, didn’t think free whites and blacks could live under the same government. He may yet be proven right. Perhaps the “Madisonian conservatism” we need to rediscover is the American Colonization Society. It may be time to restart it, especially now that many blacks seem to be thinking Madison’s way.

(Republished from American Renaissance by permission of author or representative)
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  1. After the WWII, the (White and Jewish) powers-that-be proclaimed, “There’s no race but the Human Race”¹, let’s call it “First Wave of Anti-Racism”. Fortunately, Blacks (then, Latinos and Asians) realised, “Wait, isn’t it pretty racist to say MY PEOPLE doesn’t exist?”, let’s call it “Second Wave of Anti-Racism” – which conservatives and classical liberals call ‘neo-segregation’².

    1. This is the mindset of David French, Jay Nordlinger and Conservatism, Inc.

  2. Madison was president not just of the United States, but later of the American Colonization Society.

    Unfortunately, he defended the three-fifths rule, which should have been the zero-fifths rule. This gave the planters enough extra, unwarranted power to block any removal of their pets. Cf. pit bull owners today.

    John Adams would have been reelected outright in 1800 without a distorted Electoral College and Congress.

    The ACS counted some of the greatest men in American history among its officers, including Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, James Monroe, Stephen Douglas, John Randolph, William Seward, Francis Scott Key, General Winfield Scott, John Marshall and Roger Taney.

    Taney had cleared the way by ruling that blacks had no rights, civil or human, which we need recognize. Even Jackson didn’t go that far in removing the Indians.

    After that, he proposed spending public money to give blacks “a prospect for success” in their new home.

    The sticking point was, just who was going to pay for all this?

    He had no intention of dumping them in Africa without help.

    Why would they need “help” on the continent for which they were adapted? Unless we had softened them up somehow.

    Just give them back to the successors of the kings that sold them to us. (Dishonestly. They were never any good for work.)

    • Replies: @John Gruskos
  3. @Reg Cæsar

    John Adams would have been reelected outright in 1800 without a distorted Electoral College and Congress.

    If the House of Representatives and the Electoral College had been re-apportioned prior to the 1800 presidential election to reflect each state’s percentage of America’s White population as shown in the 1800 census, the change in number of electors / congressmen per state would have been as follows:

    New York +4
    Kentucky +2
    Vermont +2
    Tennessee +1
    Georgia +1
    Pennsylvania +1
    New Hampshire +1
    Delaware no change
    New Jersey no change
    Rhode Island no change
    Massachusetts no change
    Connecticut -1
    South Carolina -1
    Maryland -2
    North Carolina -2
    Virginia -6

    Total net change in Jefferson’s states (New York, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia) +1

    Total net change in Adam’s states (Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont) +2

    Total net change in split states (North Carolina, Maryland, Pennsylvania) -3

    If Jefferson and Adams shared the losses in Maryland and North Carolina equally while Jefferson benefited from Pennsylvania’s additional elector, the final net result of a reapportionment in accordance with the principles of herrenvolk democracy would have been – no change at all!

    The 3/5ths rule benefitted Jefferson, but Adams likewise benefitted from the time lag between increases in the frontier’s population and representation. These two effects cancelled each other out.

    As long as the Southern planters used their disproportionate clout to advocate for the interests of the frontiersmen, America was a roughly democratic land, but as soon as the planters started opposing the interests of the West (homestead act, transcontinental railroad, territorial self-government etc.) the Old Republic fell to pieces.

    As for the election of 1800, a substantially smaller Virginian delegation combined with a substantially larger New York delegation would have increased the chances of President Aaron Burr.

  4. I was startled when I first researched antislavery literature years ago to see how contemptuous of black people their supposed liberators actually were. British opposition to the slave trade was more idealistic than the movement on this side of the Atlantic. Our court historians sanitize the account of American opposition to slavery, part of the “feel good” fictionalizing of our past, making it appear to conform to current notions of morality. Ending slavery here was not at all a popular cause until after the war began, and it had little to do with concern for the human rights of the slaves. It was based foremost in fear of “servile insurrection” and secondly on the financially and morally corrosive effect of the institution on white people. In the wake of the Nat Turner murders the Virginia legislature was flooded with petitions to end slavery and to expel all blacks from the commonwealth, and nearly voted to do so; and as for the latter objection, even the ardent secessionist Mary Chestnut confided to her famous diary her disgust at having to receive her Confederate Senator husband in their bedroom “reeking of the wench” he kept in the slave quarters for his own private entertainment. It was only the radical Abolitionist faction that proposed blacks and white could or should live together on equal terms, and they were so universally hated that their leading spokesman Garrison, for just one example, narrowly avoided lynching on Boston Common.

    Southerners felt they had solved capitalism’s most vexing problem by means of their peculiar institution. Instead of labor and capital being eternally at odds, as that fellow Marx noticed, their labor force was their capital. Many, including Virginia’s Fitzhugh, proposed that northern industrialists take up the system as well for those who labored in the “dark Satanic mills” of the Industrial Age. Women, children, men, working fourteen hours a day six days a week in dangerous, deadening factories for barely enough wages to keep themselves alive- how could these, Southrons asked, compare to their happy darkies singing in the fields? Masters cared for their human property as they did any income-producing asset, while if mill workers sickened or were killed, it was no loss to the owner, who had no incentive to protect them – there was always another boatload arriving from Ireland.

    It’s possible that if the southern states had chosen to remain in the union and assert their rights within the framework of democracy, they might have prolonged the institution for another generation or longer, received payment for the loss of their human capital assets, repatriated the unfortunates to Africa, and spared us the unending nightmare of racial animosity and the heritage of hate left by the terrible fratricidal war they chose to initiate. Even with Lincoln’s election they still controlled the Senate and the Supreme Court, but the barons of the Old South hated popular democracy right from the start (just read Madison’s Federalist articles!) and refused to participate in a government they did not wholly dominate. The memory of the 40% of southern voters who rejected secession in 1860, because they did not think expanding slavery into the territories a good enough reason to leave the union, is itself lost in the postwar “lost cause” myth. The Crittendon “compromise” offered early in 1861 was actually an insulting demand for unilateral surrender to all the southern extremists’ demands. But by striking first at Sumter, they lost the initiative to the Abolitionist radicals, who skillfully harnessed the nation’s rage at this unforgivable insult to Old Glory, to force their unpopular agenda on the American people.

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