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Michele Bachman Gives Chris Matthews a History Lesson

Chris Matthews once again embarrasses himself with an unhinged and ill-informed attack on Rep. Michele Bachmann in this clip. The entire basis for his idiotic attacks, repeatedly calling her a “balloonhead,” stems from Bachmann claiming that the Founders, also mentioning John Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams specifically by name, continued to work until the blight of slavery became a thing of the past in America.


Chris Matthews was nearly apoplectic in his questioning of Tea Party Express co-founder Sal Russo on the topic of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her controversial re-imagining of history where the founding fathers found a way to end slavery in their lifetime. Repeatedly calling Bachmann a “balloon head,” Matthews demanded to know why Russo and the Tea Party wanted Bachmann to give a response to the State of the Union address or, more generally, why they ever wanted her to open her mouth in the first place?

I don’t believe Bachmann said anything about “in their lifetime.” But it’s Chris Matthews that needs to bone up on his American History, not Rep. Bachmann. As a Founder and the second President, it’s true that John Adams put the Republic above what was then an impossible issue to resolve. It is inaccurate to suggest he was a proponent of slavery with no role in its ultimately being eliminated in the U.S. No, he did not sacrifice the forming of a Republic for it, which is precisely what a strong position against it would have meant. But he did make his sentiments known (for more), taking pride in never having employed a slave. He is said to have found it “repugnant” and he argued against the Southern position that blacks not be included in population figures during the Continental Congress. In short, he did what he could without sacrificing the greater cause at the time.

Adams never bought a slave and declined on principle to employ slave labor. Abigail Adams opposed slavery and employed free blacks in preference to her father’s two domestic slaves. John Adams spoke out in 1777 against a bill to emancipate slaves in Massachusetts, saying that the issue was presently too divisive, and so the legislation should “sleep for a time.” He also was against use of black soldiers in the Revolution, due to opposition from southerners. Adams generally tried to keep the issue out of national politics, because of the anticipated southern response. Though it is difficult to pinpoint the exact date on which slavery was abolished in Massachusetts, a common view is that it was abolished no later than 1780, when it was forbidden by implication in the Declaration of Rights that John Adams wrote into the Massachusetts Constitution.

His legacy was then carried on by his son and our sixth President, John Quincy Adams, who claimed to have been inspired by his Father.

The first President who was the son of a President, John Quincy Adams in many respects paralleled the career as well as the temperament and viewpoints of his illustrious father.

Matthews could start here. Adams, the Founder’s son, did precisely what Bachmann claimed. Obviously she mentioned him for a reason. It’s Matthews who seems utterly uninformed as regards the pertinent bit of American History.

What did John Quincy Adams do to help end slavery?

John Quincy Adams was a strong opponent of slavery and used the various positions he held to promote abolition of slavery. As president he proposed programs that would lead to an end to slavery, but was unable to get it through Congress. Later in life, as a Congressman, he argued that if a civil war ever broke out the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers, a policy followed by President Abraham Linclon (Emancipation Proclamation 1863) who eventually succeeded.

And then Matthews should read through some of the over 340,000 links pointing out how John Quincy Adams’, continuing the work of his father, Founder John Adams, worked in opposition to slavery throughout his lifetime, which is precisely what Bachmann claimed. The fight to end slavery did not begin and end with Abraham Lincoln, nor should a Founder and his legacy be dismissed by Matthews for crude and un-civil sound-bytes. Maybe he wants Olbermann’s slot on the MSLSD network? Clearly Bachmann has a more informed and nuanced understanding of American History than does he.

The real John Quincy Adams, asked in 1831 what he considered the United States’ greatest problem, answered: “That (slavery) is the root of almost … 1836 Only a month after the battle of San Jacinto, on May 25th, 1836, John Quincy Adams, the former President, who was now a member of Congress …

His service in congress from 1831 until his death is, in some respects, the most noteworthy part of his career. Throughout he was conspicuous as an opponent of the extension of slavery, though he was never technically an abolitionist, and in particular he was the champion in the House of Representatives of the right of petition at a time when, through the influence of the Southern members, this right was, in practice, denied by that body. His prolonged fight for the repeal of the so-called “Gag Laws” is one of the most dramatic contests in the history of the U.S. Congress. The agitation for the abolition of slavery, which really began in earnest with the establishment of the Liberator by William Lloyd Garrison in 1831, soon led to the sending of innumerable petitions to congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, over which the Federal government had jurisdiction, and for other action by congress with respect to that institution. These petitions were generally sent to Adams for presentation. They aroused the anger of the pro-slavery members of congress, who, in 1836, brought about the passage of the first “Gag Rule”, the Pinckney Resolution, presented by Henry L. Pinckney, of South Carolina.

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