By Michael Coard, Esquire
America is racist in 2022 because it was founded on racism in 1776.
The racist apple doesn’t fall far from the racist tree. And the American tree is rotten at its racist root. You want proof? Here are 10 examples (among many others) that provide irrefutable evidence that July 4th epitomizes this country’s racist foundation.
On July 4, 1776, when the edited version of the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, 41 of the 56 signers of that historic document — as confirmed by Chuck Huggins, former communications specialist at U.S. Army Military Intelligence — enslaved Black men, women and children. That means about 75% of those 56 white men were racists who held Black human beings in brutal bondage.
One of those 56 white men, namely Thomas Jefferson — who drafted (some say plagiarized) the Declaration of Independence — enslaved 175 Black persons in 1776 and increased that number to 267 by 1822.
When that historic document was adopted in 1776, slavery was legal in all 13 colonies, which means 20% of the population was enslaved.
Despite the claim in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal,” there were more than 500,000 enslaved Black persons in the 13 colonies from 1776 to 1800.
And census records show that in 1780, there were 6,855 in Pennsylvania, including 539 here in Philadelphia.
When those 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence set forth their battle cry condemning “Taxation without representation,” they contended that Britain’s requirement that they pay taxes without having any elected representation in Parliament would — in their words — “reduce them to the status of slaves.” They actually said that. If that’s not the height of historical hypocrisy, nothing is.
After the Continental Congress declared independence and then declared war, Gen. George Washington initially banned Black men from joining the military. But when he began losing more and more battles, he relented, after which over 5,000 Black men volunteered and helped lead the colonists to a 1783 victory over Britain.
Despite volunteering and helping to lead America to victory, many of the survivors among those 5,000 Black men were re-enslaved after the war. WTF?!
As a direct result of the Declaration of Independence and the 1775-1783 Revolutionary War, a new government was established via the 1788 U.S. Constitution. And, as previously stated, the racist apple doesn’t fall far from the racist tree. That’s why the Constitution itself was a racist document (and in part continues to be) as shown in the Three-Fifths Clause (Article I, Section 2, Clause 3), the Electoral College Clause (Article II, Section 1, Clause 2), the Continued Importation of Africans into Slavery Clause (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1), and the Free States to Return Escapees to “Slave” States Clause (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3).
In connection with the 1788 U.S. Constitution, which ultimately resulted from the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the position of president was officially created. And 12 of this country’s presidents enslaved anywhere from one to 316 Black men, women and children: Martin Van Buren 1, Ulysses S. Grant 5, Andrew Johnson 8, William Henry Harrison 11, James K. Polk 25, John Tyler 70, James Monroe 75, James Madison approximately 100-125, Zachary Taylor approximately 150, Andrew Jackson approximately 150-200, Thomas Jefferson 267, and George Washington 316.
Following the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War victory, some of America’s greatest facilities/symbols were built — but not by free white men. Instead, they were built by enslaved Black men. They include (among others) the White House in 1792 and the U.S. Capitol in 1793. And prior to free white men declaring their independence in 1776, enslaved Black men in Virginia built George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate/plantation in 1758 and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate/plantation in 1772.
Although slavery was founded in the South in 1619 and expanded there up to and beyond 1776, it wasn’t unique to that region. During the time of the Declaration of Independence, slavery also existed in the North with approximately 40,000 Blacks held in brutal bondage in this region as documented by James M. Velo, a researcher at the Encyclopedia of History. And about 500 of those 40,000 were in Philadelphia.
On the southwest corner of Front and High (now Market) Streets stood the London Coffee House, which opened in 1754 with funds provided by 200 local merchants. It was where shippers, businessmen and local officials, including the governor, socialized, drank coffee and alcohol, and ate in private booths while making deals. It was where, on the High Street side, auctions were held for carriages, foodstuffs, horses, and African men, women, boys and girls who had just been unloaded from ships that docked right across the street at the Delaware River.
Before, during and after 1776, slavery was a key component of daily life in Pennsylvania generally and Philadelphia particularly. In the 1760s, nearly 4,500 enslaved Blacks labored in this colony. And about one of every six white households in this city held at least one Black person in brutal bondage. This cruel institution began in Pennsylvania in 1684 when the “slave” ship Isabella from Bristol, England, anchored in Philadelphia with 150 captured Africans.
A year later in 1685, William Penn himself held three Black persons in brutal bondage at his Pennsbury manor, 20 miles north of Philly. From 1790 to 1797, George Washington held nine enslaved Blacks right here in the so-called City of Brotherly Love at America’s first “White House,” which was known as the President’s House, located at Sixth and Market (then High) Streets, and which is where the historic Slavery Memorial/President’s House was installed in 2010, thanks in large part to the relentless cultural activism of Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC).
Founded in 2002, ATAC, of which I am a proud founding member, began a successful eight-year battle for the aforementioned Slavery Memorial/President’s House at Sixth and Market Streets. That cultural activism began with a Black Independence Day event in July of that year and the topic of that event was our demand for the Slavery Memorial/President’s House.
The following year, in July 2003, ATAC held its first anniversary event and continues without interruption to hold anniversary events with timely and pertinent topics. This year, we will hold our 19th anniversary event and the topic will be “July 4th: Racist Mythology.”
Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Twitter, Instagram and his YouTube Channel as well as at AvengingTheAncestors.com. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1FM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCAM/Verizon Fios/Comcast.