The removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee from the Virginia State Capitol opens the door for a deeper understanding of the Constitution, instead of mythology, according to the author of Road to Ratification: How 27 States Faced the Most Challenging Issue in American History.
John William Templeton, cited by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 as editor of the then-century-old Richmond AFRO-AMERICAN and Richmond Planet, said, “Lee’s own testimony to the Joint Reconstruction Committee shows that he understood both that the decisive factor in keeping America united was the service of U.S. Troops of African Descent and that he and other insurrectionists should not be honored.”
Road to Ratification is a textbook and companion instructional series which traces the history of African-Americans in every state that ratified the 13th Amendment, the most important event in African-American history, from 1504 to Dec. 6, 1865. Templeton notes that Virginia ratified the 13th Amendment on Feb. 9, 1865, two months before the 29th Connecticut and 31st U.S. Colored Troops cut off his supply lines at Appomattox Court House, after routing him from Petersburg and Richmond.
“We actually have a monumental example of American society facing its deepest crisis and responding with more democracy, through the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments,” adds Templeton, who also completed a trilogy with Citizenship for All: 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment and We Fought, We Vote: 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment. “Todays leaders and voters and the future leaders in our schools must be exposed to that legacy of humanity which unified the entire nation.”
Those amendments, the foundation of modern America, covering citizenship, the financial system, the legal system and the right to vote, are the foundation of modern America. Templeton began the project in 2007 when asked to interpret a framed copy of the California adoption of the 13th Amendment found in a closet of the Historic State Capitol. He then found the ratification documents for all three Amendments for every state.
“Contrary to the lost cause mythology, the entire society united behind bringing all people into the fruits of American society,” said Templeton. “Reclaiming that history is essential to our tackling the myriad crises facing today’s society.”
When he first saw the California adoption, mirroring language in the 1849 California constitution, Templeton noticed that every member of the Assembly signed it, including those who voted against it. “These resolutions of approval stand in contrast to the contrived controversy about our history. Those who participated used democratic processes to resolve it and rejected insurrection.”