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September 09, 2020


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A non

Do you think if Fillmore saw SCOTUS' composition today he'd give you a big "I told you so..."?

If statues are erected in the coming years to politicians who had enacted safe haven cities laws, do you think they'd rightly be torn down for glorifying modern-day slavers?

A non

Or if there's a Bezos University established in the coming years?


The argument made by Prof. Lubet follows in the pattern of the notorious New York Times' 1619 Project by retroactively choosing and occasionally distorting facts 170 years later. Yes, the Compromise of 1850 put together by Henry Clay was denounced by abolitionists as favorable to slave power but it was denounced in the south as well and threats of secession were made. When put to a vote, it overwhelmingly failed by both free and slave state senators, and the Great Compromiser returned home to Kentucky to die.

Just as it appeared that the Union would dissolve, Taylor died suddenly and Fillmore became president. The young Steven Douglas stepped up and reintroduced Clay's deal as separate bills. Northern representatives voted overwhelmingly for the items that favored their side and the southerners did likewise. Douglas and Fillmore organized a small number of members from the west (mostly Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee) who voted for all of the bills, thus providing the slim majority for the Compromise to pass.

For a compromise that was initially opposed by most members of Congress, the end result was overwhelming public support both North and South and the belief that the union had been saved. Prof. Lubet suggests that the compromise should not have been supported by Fillmore. What would he have rather done? Does he think that the South was bluffing? Would the North have been able to win a civil war then, without the benefit of ten years of growth in population and industry? And with Fillmore as commander in chief instead of Lincoln?

Fillmore, Douglas, and Webster put together a compromise that saved this country. You could argue that Douglas pushing through the Kansas-Nebraska Act two years later under Pierce did far more than the efforts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act to unleash Northern resentment toward slave power in American politics. Telling us from the comfort of the future how much you detest the Fugitive
Slave Act without consideration as to what the political realities facing those in power at the time is not a serious argument.



Great comment and a thoughtful analysis that is rare in the main post.

My sense is that you are quite correct. Viewed from the choices of the times, the demonization is misplaced. Also, Lubet might have mentioned the provisions of the Constitution.

But, even if Lubet (or the students he defends) are right on the merits, viewed by the standards today, one cannot let the WAY that Lubet expresses himself pass. He says:

"If he was not the most despicable pro-slavery politician in the antebellum era, a position for which there would be much competition, he was certainly among the most hypocritical."

This hyperbolic vitriolic ranting really should be called out. It is ruining America, and it is coming almost always from the far left. How will the students use your words? Are you inciting anger? Or worse?

Calm down, Steve. "The most hypocritical of the despicable pro slavery politicians"?

C'mon man.

Scott Fruehwald


Have you heard about the controversy at USC Marshall? The school suspended a professor for saying a Mandarin word that sounds like an English racist pejorative. The Volokh Conspiracy has several post about this scandal. Very interesting reading.

Ediberto Roman

Thanks Steve for drafting this article! I learned a great deal. Much appreciated.

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