Note we’re in GQ. Discussing legitimate disputes historians have over the matter is fine, getting into a pissing match about over whether or not what they considered moral is in fact moral is not.
I often see a lot of people (okay, mainly conservatives or uber religious types) advocating that the Founding Fathers had standards of morality, and we should go back to them. Or that they assumed these standards are written into the Constitution (that one I think is a pretty obvious falsehood, with any sane reading of it), and we’re just going against it.
Now here’s the question –
- What standards of morality did the Founding Fathers (individually or as a group) advocate?
- What standards did they actually follow in practice (if they differed from 1)?
- As far as religion goes, what did they advocate and what did they do?
I was under the impression that most of them didn’t even talk a big game about morality. As in, they wrote and gave speeches about morality only insofar as it affected the government, meaning about taxes and freedom and such. For the most part, again, as I understand it, they didn’t really preach that a man should be religious, or that we shouldn’t do this or that.
As for actions, as I understand it a good deal of them weren’t exactly… moral people. Thomas Jefferson’s adultery with his slaves is pretty well documented (though I also heard he treated the slaves well for a slaveowner of that age, and raised his illegitimate children in an okay manner). Ben Franklin supposedly attended a secret society that basically thought drugs and orgies were awesome.
I also heard that among the Founding Fathers in general, their flavor of Deism was so sparse it was practically indistinguishable from atheism.
That’s about all I know, though, or at all I remember off the top of my head. This will probably end up in GD sooner rather than later, alas (it’s kind of hard to talk about someone’s standards of morality without passing moral judgment), but at least try to be as neutral as a textbook for a little bit please.
And despite the clearly numbered question parts, no, this isn’t for a class assignment or anything else.