Do Governments Have The Right Or Power To Dictate Morals?

1284 words - 5 pages

There has been an ongoing debate throughout history about whether or not governments, through the social contract, have the right or the power to dictate morals, specifically the morality of slavery. Do governments have the power to tell their constituents what they can or cannot believe in or practice? If they have this power what will stop them from becoming tyrannical?
In the Constitution of the United States of America, slavery is endorsed, even protected through the Fugitive Slave clause found in Article IV Section 2 Clause 3, and the furthering of the importation of slaves in Article I Section 9 Clause 1. Slaves were also protected as property to broaden votes in the south through the Three-Fifths Compromise in Article I Section 2 Clause 3. Slavery was protected for the economic good of the people and communities and for the good of the Union. When the thought of abolishing slavery reached the southern states uprisings were inescapable. However, through history those who enslave others live in constant fear of those they enslave. Living in this fear, along with constant reminders to the slaves of who was boss, helped repel riots. A famous slave rebellion in American history is the Nat Turner rebellion in 1831 as he and his accomplices together killed over 50 whites before being stopped and put to death (Andrews). By making examples of those who rebel it kept the other slaves in check and forced them to continue to do the work that the masters could not, in their sight see accomplished in any other way. When the government tried to change the status quo they sent the country into one of the darkest periods of our history, the Civil War. In the course of the Civil War there were estimated 1,100,000 and it cost over 620,000 lives (Civil War Statistics). The Civil War was by far the bloodiest war the United States has fought.
Following the Civil War was the Jim Crow Era, named for the traveling mistrials that had a caricature of African-Americans named Jim Crow. During this time period, horrific crimes were committed against African Americans and their supporters; there was so much hatred that these crimes were considered common news. Lynching was one of the most common forms of punishment for support of African American suffrage. Through the years spanning 1882 to 1968, mobs lynched 4,743 people. Over 70% of the lynchings were African Americans (Strange Fruit). Many people ask what the cause for so much hatred and discrimination was. The answer lies in the past. African American males were viewed as rapists and propaganda stated they could not control their sex drive. From this stereotyping, if an African American male even looked at a white female he would most likely be lynched. Another contributing factor was through the economy and the opening of many African American stores. One such story was told of Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowelll, and Henry Stewart, in Memphis, Tennessee. The three had opened a store that had become a hang out place...

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