What would America's Founding Fathers think of today's protests?

Historian says some would support, some would not

Brian Kelly
July 05, 2020 - 12:30 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-As the United States of America begins its 245th year as a nation, it's seeing thousands of people take to the streets to call for racial equality. Is this what the founders envisioned when they declared independence in 1776?

For one thing, Washington University-St. Louis History Department chair Peter Kastor, the movement would be 'unimaginable' because they could not make the leap to imagine racial equality. He says they also disagreed over how much people should take to the streets. Kastor says John Adams and Alexander Hamilton were scared of democracy. "In fact, when they would see widespread mobilization in the streets they thought it would bring chaos, they thought it would bring disorder and they thought it would bring the undoing of the country," he says. "Whereas others, like (Thomas) Jefferson and (James) Madison said, 'No, no, no, this is exactly what we want.'"

Who were the Founding Fathers? 

He says Jefferson and Madison thought only if Americans were engaged publicly will the public will survive. "Otherwise," he says, "people will become angry if they're not listened to. If they can't voice their concerns." 

Kastor says the party Jefferson and Madison founded, which supported popular participation, won, while the more restrictive outlook completely failed as a political movement.