The U.S. Constitution Is Yesterday’s News

  • The Constitution has seen better days. So begins a provocative article in The New York Times (6-Feb-12). Until the 1980s, democratic constitutions around the world were more similar to that of the United States than not. That has changed. Newer constitutions tend to protect more rights, are easier to change, and are replaced periodically. That makes the U.S version as poor a model for a new constitution as using Windows 3.1 to inspire the development of a modern operating system.
JDN | 7-Feb-2012

Monticello was a working plantation, and Jefferson was eager to make it pay. His slaves may have been members of his family, but they were units of production as well. Everywhere on his plantation he sought to eliminate pockets of idleness. If a slave was too old or too sick to work in the fields, he or she was put to tending the vegetable gardens or to cooking in the quarters. When one of his former head men named Nace became ill, Jefferson ordered that he be entirely kept from labour until he recovers; nevertheless, Nace was to spend his days indoors shelling corn or making shoes or baskets. Jefferson was willing to prescribe lighter work for women who were pregnant or raising infant children because they were actually breeding more property; thus, said Jefferson, a child raised every 2 years is of more profit than the crop of the best laboring man. This is one of the times, he said, when providence has made our interest and our duties coincide perfectly.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)