Robert Carter III: A Forgotten Hero David Barton Doesn’t Want You to Remember

Fred Clark at Patheos reminds us that today is the day that Robert Carter III filed his deed of emancipation at the Northumberland District Court in 1791.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Robert Carter wrote what he called a “deed of gift” that set in motion the largest emancipation of slaves in the United States prior to the Civil War. Carter’s deed listed 452 slaves to be emancipated throughout the remainder of Carter’s life. To see parts of the six page deed, click here. See the image below for the filing date.


Carter, a Virginia plantation owner, became convinced that slavery was morally wrong and put his beliefs into action. David Barton claims in his book The Jefferson Lies that fellow Virginia slave owner Thomas Jefferson was unable to free his slaves due to Virginia law. On the contrary, Robert Carter relied on the Virginia’s 1782 law allowing owners to emancipate slaves via a deed recorded at the county court house. Barton modified his claim somewhat on the Glenn Beck show in mid-August by saying that Virginia law required owners who freed their slaves to provide a security bond for their care. To date, he has produced no evidence for this claim.

Carter’s story is an inconvenient truth for Barton and his fans. In the sad history of slavery, Carter is a brighter light, a true hero of his times. Yet, until recently, there has been little attention to him. Andrew Levy’s book on Carter (The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Work of Robert Carter the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves) helps to correct this but, on the other hand, Barton’s book on Jefferson serves to obscure Carter’s legacy. Levy’s observation about the place of Robert Carter in history is relevant:

It becomes difficult to argue that the founding fathers acted liberally within their own moral universe when small slave owners up and down the Virginia coast were freeing their slaves. It becomes impossible, however, to make that argument when one of their peers commits the same radical act. Similarly, the argument that there existed no practical plan for mass emancipation makes sense only if Robert Carter’s Deed of Gift is suppressed within the historical record.

David Barton claims his organization preserves America’s forgotten heroes. Robert Carter is one he might rather you forget.

Dutch government funds sexual identity ministry

This news report from the Netherlands Information Services, an English language Dutch new service, is intriguing.

Govt Subsidises ‘Homosexuality Healers’
THE HAGUE, 22/11/08 – Emancipation Minister Ronald Plasterk subsidises two Christian organisations that see homosexuality as a curable complaint.
Plasterk recently announced he would give subsidies to Christian gay organisations with the goal of making homosexuality discussible in these circles. But according to De Pers newspaper, these organisations work with therapists that are supposed to ‘cure’ homosexuals of their proclivity. They also only accept homosexuality when it is not actually practised.
Refo Anders is receiving 84,000 euros. “Homosexual feelings, okay. But we reject practising,” confirmed chairman Johan Quist in De Pers. Dealing with homosexual feelings means either celibate living or becoming heterosexual, is also the view of Johan van de Sluis, board member of the Onze Weg (Our Way) foundation, which is receiving 50,000 euros.
Gay interests organisation COC chairman Wouter Neerings is astonished. “Minister Plasterk is normally a man of sound judgement. It looks like a political compromise with ChristenUnie.”
In a reaction, Plasterk said: “These organisations have access to circles where there would otherwise be no homo-emancipation at all. Of course I do not support the aims completely, but they have taken important hurdles. For example, the recognition that there are homos in Christian circles.”

Plasterk is an acclaimed molecular biologist, writer and of late politician, who serves as the Minister of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands. As such, he is responsible for “emancipation” or setting policies supportive of equal rights for women and gays. He rejects Christianity, yet apparently believes there is value in making “homosexuality discussible in these circles.”
I have some question about the characterization of the recipients as “homosexuality healers.” Refo Anders, one of the organizations receiving the money, has expressed reservations regarding change therapy. I cannot vouch for Google translation but here is a link to a page where it appears that Anders believes his group has been mischaracterized by the Dutch press. An excerpt:

The Press newspaper in an article called Refo Anders as a gay “healer”
Despite that Refo Anders in his vision document wrote that they skeptical about change therapy The Press considers it better to know and places it among the gay Refo Otherwise healers.
Otherwise Refo Foundation regrets this “low to the ground” way of journalism companies, particularly since the journalist (Koen Verhelst) a nuanced story that he has heard total passes even after he was recalled on factual inaccuracies in his story, even the inappropriate use of the name of Refo Otherwise urged not to him by corrections that after 37 minutes of us got on his concept press release (which he himself for a few days needed to write).

As I read through the materials, the approach sounds more like Wendy Gritter’s New Directions, than a change ministry.
UPDATE: Johan Quist, of Refo Anders wrote to explain a little further. Although his English is much better than my Dutch, it may take a couple of reads to catch the meaning.

We do not like to change the human with therapy, but otherwise we believe that God has the power to change people, it’s a work inside the heart of a human from God himself. Also its really important that people find the way back to the warm relation with God and from this warm relation God will show him the way to live; some people have to live his total life with homo-feelings And other people God will change, it’s the free way of God !

This is not a homosexuality healing or reparative therapy organization. Rather, this is a Christian ministry with a reformed theology which supports non-gay-affirming people who strive to live by their traditional reformed faith. I like this approach and think it has much to recommend it over the reparative based ministry often practiced in the U.S.