Looking a actions as criminal only if the criminals themselves thought their actions were wrong would cede all the moral arguments to the criminals. Criminal organizations today have elaborate codes of honor, like the omerta of the Sicilian crime families, which create an entirely different moral system. For the crime families, the worst crime is informing for the police. For them, robbery, murder, and extortion are simply the means of conducting business.
We must look upon the actions of our founding fathers today as crimes if we find that other people at that time considered them as crimes, but the founding fathers ignored the opinions of others. Majority agreement does not make a law just, it only gives criminals justification for their actions.
Among the crimes that may have been committed by the founders—Washington, Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson—were the following:
Washington and Jefferson both owned slaves. Slavery was a customary practice in Virginia at that time, but what is customary may also be criminal. Abolition movements began as early as 1760 among the colonists. The Quakers began liberating their own slaves in the late 17th century. By 1774, they had succeeded in abolishing slavery within the movement.
Quakers wrote books and pamphlets decrying the ills of slavery. Some of them also made speeches on the subject. It was not possible for an American during the revolutionary period not to realize that many people opposed slavery.
The First Great Awakening, a revitalization of Christian churches in the 1730s and 1740s, decried slavery. Pennsylvania became the first state to pass anti-slavery legislation in 1760. Massachusetts adopted a constitution that declared all men equal. Thereafter, a number of law suits claimed that slavery was illegal in Massachusetts.
Washington and Jefferson both knew that slavery was being outlawed in several states, yet they did not free their own slaves. Neither man freed a slave during his lifetime, though Washington freed most of his slaves in his will. Jefferson freed only a few slaves in his will.
Both Washington and Jefferson had slave mistresses. Such a union is tantamount to rape, since the woman has no choice but to submit to her owner.
Andrew Jackson could have been prosecuted for the crime of genocide if that crime had been defined when Jackson ordered the four civilized nations to leave their land in the South and walk to new homes in Oklahoma. This act today would be called ethnic cleansing and is considered a form of genocide. Four thousand native Americans died along the Trail of Tears.
Long before he became president, Andrew Jackson led a merciless war of extermination against the escaped slaves who lived with the Seminoles in Florida. He began his career by leading a force of American soldiers and Native American allies against Negro Fort, a stronghold for escaped slaves in Northern Florida. He led a flotilla up the Suwannee River and provoked Spanish soldiers to fire on his forces. Jackson was thus able to claim that the Spanish had initiated the war.
Jackson used the superior marksmanship of his gunners to explode the powder magazine at Negro Fort. The resultant explosion killed all but 30 of the 3000 people within the fort. Many women and children were among the dead. Jackson justified his actions by saying he acted to “chastise a lawless foe, who, combined with a band of Negro brigands, have for some time past been carrying on a cruel and unprovoked war against the citizens of the United States.”
Andrew Jackson was the most perfidious and violent of the Founding Fathers.