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From the recent interview of Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to Democratic Sen. Harry Reid by NPR reporter Audie Cornish Former Senator's Staffer On What Senate Might Do In Response To Riot At U.S. Capitol:

CORNISH: One of the striking things about this week was seeing the Confederate flag inside the Capitol, brought in by some of the violent rioters who had broken in. What was that like for you, given the racial history you write about in the book?

JENTLESON: It was incredibly depressing. There is a very ugly racial history underlying the Senate. I think that's true, you know, for so many institutions in American life but, really, especially so for the Senate. So much of the structure of the body itself exists due to concessions to the planter class and the slave power back in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then even through the 20th century, many of the rules that are currently in place that we're operating under were put in place in service of segregation of senators from the South.

Slavery was well established by the time the US Constitution was written in the 17th century, but the numerical structure of the US Senate; two members from each state — independent of the size of the population of each state — may not have been a concession to the "planter class".

Jentleson mentions "So much of the structure of the body itself exists due to concessions to the planter class and the slave power back in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then even through the 20th century.

Before I can ask if this is true or not, I need to know what aspects of the "structure" of the Senate (which I assume refers at least in part to Senate rules and procedures) can be seen as "concessions to the planter class" and to slavery "back in the 18th and 19th centuries, and then even through the 20th century."

My guess is that Jentleson's premise here isn't completely novel and there are established arguments for this. Is it possible to identify a few of the main ones?

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By having an equal number of Senators per State, the original States could do two things:

  • Ensure there wasn't Federal intervention to remove State laws that allowed slavery
  • Limit the admission of new States such that there remained a roughly equal number of pro-slavery States to pro-emancipation States

Even after the Civil War, that structure allowed laws that directly, or indirectly, advantage White people to remain in those states.

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