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The Constitution, The Founding Fathers and Slavery "It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished.

The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused."1 - !ohn !ay, 1"#$ There is no doubt that America is unlike any other country in the world. America was labeled The Great American E !eriment" by Ale is de Toc#ueville in the $%&'.( Toc#ueville wrote on the new democracy taking !lace in America as o!!osed to the aristocratic system that had long been in !lace in his home country o) France at the time. Toc#ueville stressed the im!ortance o) this democracy as a means o) achieving liberty, e#uality and !rogress. Toc#ueville reali*ed that nothing like America had ever been tried be)ore. +e also reali*ed that sel) interest and the )act that !eo!le could soar as high as their abilities could take them was the essential element and key ingredient to America,s ability to !ros!er. Toc#ueville also recogni*ed the blatant contradiction that slavery im!osed on all o) America,s core values and stated )reedoms. Toc#ueville said in $%'', be)ore the Civil -ar, that he was !ained and astonished by the )act that the )reest !eo!le in the world is, at the !resent time, almost the only one among civili*ed and Christian nations which yet maintains !ersonal servitude.& Toc#ueville illustrates a common conce!tion that !eo!le have about the )ounding o) the nation. This !erce!tion is that the )ounding )athers were a bunch o) old white men who !reached the virtues or !ersonal liberty and economic )reedom, yet allowed the enslavement o) a com!lete race o) !eo!le based solely on skin color. And it is a com!letely understandable !osition to have. Considering the .eclaration o) /nde!endence stated that -e hold these truths to be sel)0evident, that all men are created e%ual, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable 1ights, that among these are 2i)e, 2iberty and the !ursuit o) +a!!iness."3 The real #uestions Toc#ueville !resented were4 +ow is it that Thomas 5e))erson,s iconic words only a!!ly to certain men i) all men were created e#ual6 .on7t these god given rights transcend race and color6 +ow is it that one man could sentence another man to a li)e o) servitude and treat him as !ro!erty i) all men were created e#ual6 These #uestions !ro!ose the contradiction that most !eo!le cannot wra! their heads around. The answer is not as sim!le as some !eo!le !oint it out to be. The contradiction in which some o) the )ounders lived under not be easily understood and still has not been com!letely understood. +owever, this !a!er it to !rovide a better understanding o) the challenges )aced at that times these !ro)ound words were written and e amine some o) the !ossible reasons it took so long )or America to banish the vile institution o) slavery. /t must be ke!t in mind that times were much di))erent than they are now, the birth o) a nation was occurring, and slavery had never
$ -illiam 5ay, The &ife of !ohn !ay with Selections from 'is (orrespondence. 8ew 9ork4 5. : 5. +ar!er, $%&&. ;ages $%$0%( ( Toc#ueville, Ale is de, and Arthur Goldhammer. )emocracy In *merica. 8ew 9ork4 2iterary Classics o) the <nited States, (==3. -eb & >ancini, >atthew. *lexis de Toc%ueville and *merican Intellectuals+ ,rom 'is Times to -urs . 2andham, >aryland4 1owman : 2ittle)ield ;ublishers, (==?. ?(. e@ook. 3 <.S. .eclaration o) /nde!endence, ;aragra!h ( A$BB?C

really been challenged by society when America was develo!ing as a nation. THE FOUNDATION /n order to understand the institution o) slavery, it is essential to start )rom the beginning. -hether we look at !rehistoric hunting tribes, Ancient Egy!t and the building o) their !yramids or the 1oman,s enslavement o) total civili*ations con#uered, slavery has been a !art o) many societies and cultures throughout the world at some time or another throughout history.' -ith this being said, !erha!s one o) the most im!ortant !ieces o) in)ormation to make !eo!le aware o) is the )act that it was not the )ounding )athers that created the institution o) slavery. /n )act, the )ounders had nothing to do with the institution o) slavery being brought to America. DbEectively, it can certainly be argued that the )ounders were in )act the )irst ones to take the ste!s toward abolishing slavery altogether, )ollowing .eclaration o) /nde!endence. @ut the )act remains that slavery had been around long be)ore then and was ingrained in the colonies7 cultures )or #uite some time. 2ong be)ore the )ounding documents were dra)ted and the intellectual )ight )or )reedom began, slavery had been in !lace )or #uite some time. /n )act, to !ut the time line into !ers!ective, Thomas 5e))erson, dra)ter o) the .eclaration o) /nde!endence, was born $(3 years a)ter the )irst slaves arrived in America. The )irst slaves to arrive in America was in $?$F when a .utch shi! brought (= A)ricans ashore to 5amestown, Girginia.? A)ter $?$F, slavery s!read throughout the American colonies. Seeing the bene)its o) )ree labor, slavery grew e !onentially, es!ecially in the south. Slavery continued to s!read throughout the country as the building o) America took !lace, much on the backs o) slaves.B The !oint is that the )ounding )athers did not bring slavery to America. Truth be told, slavery in America had been here #uite some time be)ore the age o) enlightenment and teachings o) 5ohn 2ocke were written.% The )act that slavery was !resent at the )ounding o) the country is something !eo!le get bogged down in. ;eo!le are o)ten sur!rised and )ind it hard to believe that the )ounding )athers did work to !ut an end to slavery. +owever, there were certain obstacles in the way. The )irst o) these obstacles came be)ore the .eclaration o) /nde!endence. At this time, America was been under the thumb o) the @ritish Crown. America was not )ree to govern themselves and any decision to be made or laws to be made would have to be cleared with the Hing, including slavery. -ith this in mind, America took the )irst ste!s toward inde!endence by declaring its inde!endence. Conse#uentially, this would lead the )ounders to the dra)ting some o) America7s most !ro)ound and erudite documents. These documents would )orce the )ounders and
' ? >elt*er, >. A$FB(C. Slavery+ * world history. Chicago, /24 .aCa!o ;ress. The arrival o) the (= and odd" A)rican ca!tives aboard a .utch man o) war" shi! on this day AAugust (=C in the year $?$F historically marks the early !lanting o) the seeds o) the American slave trade. Although American slavery was not a known institution at the time, this grou! o) A)ricans was the )irst to go on record to be sold as involuntary laborers. B Thornton, 5ohn. IThe A)rican E !erience o) the 7(=, and odd 8egroes7 Arriving in Girginia in $?$F.IThe .illiam and /ary 0uarterly, 5uly $FF%. % -e hold these truths to be sel)0evident, that all men are created e#ual, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable 1ights, that among these are 2i)e, 2iberty and the !ursuit o) +a!!iness," written in the .eclaration o) /nde!endence was derived almost verbatim by 5e))erson )rom 2ocke7s treatise titled The True -riginal, 1xtent, and 1nd of (ivil 2overnment. /n )act much o) the language contained in out )ounding documents, !olitical structure and natural rights were ins!ired by and derived )rom much o) 2ocke7s !hiloso!hical writings and teachings.

citi*ens o) America to address the issue o) slavery head on and allow Americans to eventually eliminate slavery altogether. THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE WITH THE POTENTIAL OF FREEDOM Following over $== years o) slavery was the American 1evolutionary -ar. Slaves at that time were )aced with #uite a decision at that time. They could either align themselves with the loyalist or )ight )or America, where they had been slaves their entire lives. This interesting !ro!osition is best illustrated by a document called .unmore7s ;roclamation. This occurred in $BB', when then governor o) Girginia, 5ohn >urray, a loyalist, made the !roclamation that A)rican American slaves belonging to American !atriots could )ight on the side o) the 2oyalist and earn their )reedom or they could maintain status #uota and continue to be enslaved.F Few slaves chose to side with the loyalist and 5ohn >urray was )orced out o) Girginia. +is !lan had )ailed and as a result he only took an estimated $'== slaves with him, when he had ho!ed )or a massive revolt.$= This !roclamation is only illustrates the di))icult decision that slaves were )aced with during the American 1evolution. They had hel! build a country that was now claiming its inde!endence. This was their o!!ortunity to take a bold stance with a side o) their choosing. Faced with this di))icult choice, during the war, A)rican Americans served both the ;atriots and the @ritish . /t is di))icult )or historians to estimate how many A)rican Americans served in the war, but it is estimated that ',=== served )or the colonists.$$ $( -hile many more served )or the @ritish, !erha!s because most believed that victory by the @ritish would lead to the end o) their slavery. Although their views may have di))ered, there was one clear and se#uential goal among all A)rican Americans no matter what side they )ought on4 Freedom. -hen General George -ashington took command $BB', there were both slaves and )ree blacks in the army. >inding an unta!!ed asset and )oreseeing the @ritish doing the same, Ale ander +amilton !ro!osed a general !lan to enlist slaves in the army that would give them their )reedom with their muskets.$& This !lan was su!!orted by George -ashington and by much o) congress, but was never !assed due too much !olitical o!!osition in the two largest
F A)ter declaring martial law, the !roclamation claimed that the ;eace and good Drder may the sooner be restored, / do re#uire every ;erson ca!able o) bearing Arms, to resort to +is >A5EST97S STA8.A1., or be looked u!on as Traitors to +is >A5EST97S Crown and Government, and thereby become liable to the ;enalty the 2aw in)licts u!on such D))ensesJ such as )or)eiture o) 2i)e, con)iscation o) 2ands, :. :. And / do hereby )urther declare all indented Servants, 8egroes, or others, Aa!!ertaining to 1ebels,C )ree that are able and willing to bear Arms, they Eoining +is >A5EST97S Troo!s as soon as may be, )oe the more s!eedily reducing this Colony to a !ro!er Sense o) their .uty, to +is >A5EST97S Crown and .ignity. / do )urther order, and re#uire, all +is >A5EST97S 2iege SubEects, to retain their Kuitrents, or any other Ta es due or that may become due, in their own Custody, till such a Time as ;eace may be again restored to this at !resent most unha!!y Country, or demanded o) them )or their )ormer salutary ;ur!oses, by D))icers !ro!erly authori*ed to receive the same. $= 1oark, 5. 2., : 5ohnson, >. ;. A(==%C. The american promise value edition, volume i+ To 1#"", a history of the united states. A3, Galue ed. ed.C. @ostonL8ew 9ork4 @ed)ordLst >artins $$ >any more wanted to serve but were not allowed due to black codes and !atriots )earing that the slaves would attem!t to overthrow them. $( @oatner, >ark >., ///. IThe 8egro in the 1evolution.I Amer +ist /llus, 3 A(C A$F?FC, &?033 $& /n a letter written to 5ohn 5ay in $BBF, Ale ander +amilton stated it should be considered, that i) we do not make use o) them in this way, the enemy !robably willJ and that the best way to counteract the tem!tations they will hold out will be to o))er them ourselves. An essential !art o) the !lan is to give them their )reedom with their muskets. This will secure their )idelity, animate their courage, and / believe will have a good in)luence u!on those who remain, by o!ening a door to their emanci!ation."


slave holding states o) South Carolina and Georgia.$3 @lacks willing to serve in the war were still )aced with certain laws that made it di))icult )or A)rican Americans to serve in the army. +owever, even with the concern o) a slave u!rising, and )acing a need )or man !ower, A)rican Americans were eventually allowed to enlist and bear arms to )ight on the side o) the ;atriots. The A)rican Americans who chose to )ight on the side o) America, both enslaved and )ree, Eoined with ho!es o) eventual )reedom Ai) they did not have it alreadyC andLor an e !ansion o) their civil rights. Sadly, many o) these !romises went un)ul)illed and blacks returned to their masters.$' -ith this, the war was won by the !atriots. The colonist now had an entire country to mold and sha!e in the way they chose to. @ut what about the slaves6 -hat were they to do now6 America was )ree and inde!endent, but the slaves were )ar )rom it. THE CONSTITUTION I was, on the anti slavery %uestion,3fully committed to 4the5 doctrine touching the pro slavery character of the (onstitution3I advocated it with pen and tongue, according to the best of my ability36pon a reconsideration of the whole subject, I became convinced3 that the (onstitution of the 6nited States not only contained no guarantees in favor of slavery, but on the contrary, it is in its letter and spirit an anti slavery instrument, demanding the abolition of slavery as a condition of its own existence as the supreme law of the land.1$ 00 Frederick .ouglass, $%'' Free )rom the constraints im!osed on America by the @ritish Crown, America was le)t to construct a nation and write the laws in which it chose to live by. Taking many cues )rom many o) the )ree thinkers at that time,$B the )ramers cra)ted a document that stated that !eo!le are born with natural rights and that these rights cannot be in)ringed u!on because they are are god0given or given by reason alone. The citi*ens had all the !ower rather than a king or tyrranical government. ;eo!le retained these rights and granted the government limited !owers. -ith this the )ramers created a structure that was com!letely new, a re!resentative democracy where the !eo!le were governed by themselves. As a result, one o) the greatest documents ever written was created. 8ot only was this document a novelty at the time, it would later become the model o) countless other countries, constitutions. There is no doubt that the Constitution remains the bedrock o) this country,s values and ideas. Dn to! o) that, it allowed Aalthough with much delayC, a tool and system )or A)rican Americans to gain an e#ual )ooting with whites. /t also allowed a constant !rogression towards the )amous words uttered in the .eclaration o) /nde!endence that all men Aand womenC are created e#ual. /t !rovided !rotection )or !eo!le seeking e#uality and allowing them to s!eak out against a government that made laws )or slavery and black codes. +owever, all this was not !ossible when the Constitution was )irst rati)ied, as slaves were still considered !ro!erty. /t is estimated that at the time o) the American Founding, there were
$3 Gregory .. >assey, 5ohn 2aurens and the American 1evolution AColumbia4 <niversity o) South Carolina ;ress, (===C $' .obyns, 2. AAutumn (==BC. Fighting.. maybe )or )reedom, but !robably not. (-&-7I*& .I&&I*/S8692 !-697*&, 1etrieved )rom htt!4LLwww.history.orgL)oundationLEournalLautumn=BLslaves.c)m $? .ouglas, F. A(==%C. The complete autobiographies of frederic: douglas. 1ad)ord, GA4 -ilder ;ublications $B Thomas +obbes, 5ohn 2ocke, Thomas ;aine.

about hal) a million slaves in the <nited States, mostly in the )ive southernmost states.$% /n Girginia, slaves were hal) the !o!ulation and South Carolina slaves out numbered white inhabitants, consisting o) two0thirds o) the !o!ulation there.$F The Constitution !rovided many !rotections, natural rights or god given rights )or )ree individuals, but what about rights )or slaves6 /t should )irst be noted that when the Constitutional Convention was held in $B%B, slavery was a strongly contested to!ic and a to!ic o) much contention between the northern and southern states. 5ames >adison, with regards to slavery and the Constitution, had said that "MtNhe real di))erence o) interests, lay not between large and small states but between the 8orthern and Southern states. The institution o) slavery and its conse#uences )ormed a line o) discrimination."(= /t should also be noted that twenty0)ive o) the Convention7s '' delegates owned slaves, including all o) the delegates )rom Girginia and South Carolina.($ The )act o) the matter is that more than F=O o) the slaves lived in the South according to the <nited States census o) $F=F.(( .ue to the !o!ulation o) slaves in the South, the South was very reluctant to make any com!romises or address the issue o) slavery in the Constitution. The sim!le e !lanation was that the South7s entire economy rested on and was built u!on the backs o) slaves. The goal o) the convention was to )orm a union o) states and there is no doubt that many o) the states did not agree on several issues. /n )act, it is #uite remarkable that they agreed on any issues. Dne thing is clear though, in order to )orm a union certain concessions to be made by each state. <n)ortunately, A)rican Americans had no choice in the matter and were )orced to continue to su))er as a result o) these concessions. The )ounders were reluctant to !ut any mention o) slavery in the constitution because America was su!!ose to be the land o) liberty and )reedom. 8oticeably, slavery is not once mentioned in the Constitution. This does not mean that the )ounders did not have slavery in mind when cra)ting the constitution though. <n)ortunately, in its language and nature the concessions and )inal language reached by the !arties merely tolerated the institution o) slavery rather than eliminate it. +owever, on the bright side, none o) this language !romoted slavery or !romulgated the institution o) slavery. -hat the )ounders did was take a cavalier a!!roach in eliminating the institution o) slavery all together. There are several !rovisions contained in the constitution that s!eak indirectly to slavery andLor allowed slavery to be eliminated altogether eventually. Federalism ;erha!s the most use)ul and !romising agreement !ut in !lace was the system and structure o) the <nited States, otherwise known as )ederalism. Federalism was the !olitical structure !ut into !lace by the articles o) con)ederation and )inally memoriali*ed in the constitution. Federalism is essentially a system o) government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority Athe Federal GovernmentC and constituent !olitical units Athe StatesC. -ithout going too much into detail, )ederalism reserved
$% @ennet, -. 5. A$FFBC. -ur sacred honor+ The stories, letters, songs, poems, speeches, and hymns that gave birth to our nation. 8ew 9ork, 894 Simon : Schuster $F Id. (= >adison, 5. A$FFFC. /adison writings. 8ew 9ork4 ;enguin Grou!. ($ Stewart, .. A(==BC. The men who invented the constitution, the summer of 1"#". 8ew 9ork4 Simon : Schuster. !.?%0?F (( htt!4LLarchive.orgLstreamLcenturyo)!o!ulat==unitP!ageLn$$LmodeL(u! at !age $&F


certain limited !owers to the )ederal government and the rest )or the states to decide. This meant that the entire nation would not be bound by a decision reached on a national level by whoever was in !ower. This allows citi*ens to make the decisions and write the laws which they live under. For instance, a decision or law !ut in !lace in Cali)ornia should not a))ect the citi*ens o) >innesota because what is good or works )or Cali)ornia, might not necessarily work )or >innesotans. Although this !rinci!le has arguably been eviscerated by the use o) the interstate commerce clause, )ederalism is )ocused on more local control. There were several disagreements when the constitution was dra)ted including centrali*ed !ower. Some argued in the )avor o) a more !ower)ul centrali*ed government and some argued )or less. Federalism was the solution to this !roblem. States would )unction as individual laboratories o) democracy.(& Each state is )ree to e !eriment with laws and regulations as they see )it. /) the national government became to o!!ressive, at least be)ore the civil war, a state could leave the <nion and go at it alone. /n short, the <nited States set u! a re!resentative re!ublic based on )ederalism and whether or not intended to, it allowed slavery to be de)eated on a state by state basis. There was much contention about the issue o) slavery at the Constitutional convention. As mentioned earlier, several o) the delegate owned slaves. +owever, without )ederalism the <nion might never have been )ormed because the state7s !ositions are a lot o) issues, including slavery, were so o!!osed. Federalism solved this by allowing each state to decide how they wanted to deal with the issue o) slavery. Since each state was )ree to )unction in their own individual ca!acity, they were allowed to either ban slavery entirely or allow it. Although this was not the be all and end all to slavery, imagine i) )ederalism was not in !lace and due to the South,s !o!ulation they received a good amount o) !olitical !ower in the national government. The country would be controlled by those in the South and the south would be able to im!ose and write any laws they saw )it, including those on slavery. Federalism, allowed the states to decide issues like slavery. And that they did. /n )act, even be)ore the constitution was written, there were signs and actions taken to eliminate slavery all together. @eing the age o) enlightenment and the )act that the nation had Eust )ought o) war )or )reedom, States began taking action s!eci)ically with slavery in mind. ;ennsylvania +owever, the )irst signs o) the )ight against slavery actually came be)ore the Constitution was even written. The )ramework set by the )ounders and constitution allowed this decision to be !ut into !lace. The )irst sign o) light in the )ight against slavery in the <nited States came )rom the state o) ;ennsylvania.(3 /n $B%=, B years be)ore the it had ado!ted the Constitution, ;ennsylvania was the )irst to !ass what was called the Gradual Abolition Act.(' The act banned any )uture im!ortation o) slaves into the state and re#uired that, rather than )or li)e, children o) slaves would be considered indentured servants instead o) slaves. -ith that they were only
(& ;hrase coined by 5ustice 2ouis @raneis in 7ew State Ice (-. v. &iebmann, (%' <.S. (?( A$F&(C, where he said that a state may, i) its citi*ens choose, serve as a laboratoryJ and try novel social and economic e !eriments without risk to the rest o) the country.I (3 Germont was technically the )irst colony to banish slavery outright. 8ot only did Germont7s legislature agree to abolish slavery entirely in $BBB, it also moved to !rovide )ull voting rights )or A)rican American males . Fogel, 1. -. A$FF3C..ithout consent or contract+ The rise and fall of american slavery. 8ew 9ork, 894 -.-. 8orton : Com!any /n (' Id.

re#uired to work )or their mother,s master until the age o) (%. A)ter the age o) (%, those children would be manumitted.(? Although the act did not )ree slaves already in the state or com!letely ban slavery at one )ell swoo! o) the !en, it certainly was a ste! )orward, and a bright light in the dark doldrums o) slavery. This was the )irst sign o) change and many other states )ollowed the gradual elimination o) slavery model set by ;ennsylvania. >assachusetts /n $B%=, )ollowing ;ennsylvania, >assachusetts o))icially abolished slavery in the State,s constitution. The interesting )act is that that this was not reali*ed until $B%$. There is no #uestion that some o) the signers and dra)ters o) >assachusetts7 constitution would not have signed it into law i) they knew it would ban slavery outright a year later. To better e !lain this, although the constitution was rati)ied in $B%=, a )ull seven years be)ore the Country,s constitution was written, it was not determined that the constitution actually banned the institution o) slavery until $B%$. The >assachusetts constitution, which was the model )or the <nited States Constitution contained the !hrase that All men are born )ree and e#ual, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rightsJ among which may be reckoned the right o) enEoying and de)ending their lives and libertiesJ that o) ac#uiring, !ossessing, and !rotecting !ro!ertyJ in )ine, that o) seeking and obtaining their sa)ety and ha!!iness."(B This language would lead to two o) the most im!ortant and well know court cases involving slaves at that time in the state o) >assachusetts. The )irst case was 8rom and 8ett v. *shley. The ;lainti)) in this case was one o) the )irst slaves in >assachusetts to bring a )reedom suit." The story is that that @ett, a slave at the time, heard the constitution read )ollowing the 1evolutionary -ar and consulted with a young abolition lawyer regarding the above cited !hrase. /nter!reting the words in the state,s newly !assed constitution she told the lawyer(% that / heard that !a!er read yesterday, that says, all men are created e#ual, and that every man has a right to )reedom. /7m not a dumb critterJ won7t the law give me my )reedom6 The lawyer gladly took her case and in $B%$ a Eury )ound that slavery was inconsistent with the >assachusetts Constitution and awarded her damages o) &= schillings, along with her )reedom. -ith that, @ett became the )irst A)rican American set )ree under the >assachusetts7 constitution.(F Around the same time as the 8ett case, the Kuock -alker cases took !lace. There were three se!arate cases involved, two civil cases and one criminal case.&= The case stems )rom -alker running away )rom his master, 5ennison, a)ter he reneged on his !romise o) )reedom. +e ran to a nearby )arm owned by a man named Caldwell. 5ennison )ound this out, )ound -alker and beat him severely. Following the incident, 5ennison sued Caldwell )or de!rivation o) his servant. -alker also )iled a civil suit against 5ennison )or the assault and battery. The court )ound )or 5ennison on the de!rivation o) a servant count. +owever, the Eury also )ound that -alker was )ree man
(? An Act )or the Gradual Abolition o) Slavery A$B%=C (B >assachusetts Constitution, Article / A$B%=C (% Theodore Sedgwick was a young abolition minded attorney. +e would later go on to become a <S Senator, <S 1e!resentative, the )i)th S!eaker o) the +ouse and )inally the Su!reme Court 5ustice o) >assachusetts. (F Su!reme 5udicial Court . A(=$=C. The massachusetts constitution, Eudicial review and slavery . The >um @ett case. 1etrieved )rom htt!4LLwww.mass.govLcourtsLsEcLconstitution0slavery0d.html &= Jennison v. Caldwel for "deprivation of the benefit of his servant; Walker v. Jennison for assault and
battery, and The Commonswealth of Massachusetts v. Jennison, for the assault on Walker

according to the constitution. @oth cases were a!!ealed to the >assachusetts Su!reme 5udicial Court. That court u!held -alker,s )reedom and reversed the de!rivation o) servant decision reached by the lower court and said that since -alker was a )ree man, Caldwell was allowed to em!loy him. /) this was not enough, and !erha!s !utting the )inal nail in the co))in o) slavery in the state o) >assachusetts, the Commonwealth o) >assachusetts )iled charges against 5ennison )or the assault and battery. The court )ound him guilty and )ined him.&$ 5udge -illiam Cushing stated to the Eury that without resorting to im!lication in constructing the constitution, slavery isQas e))ectively abolished as it can be by the granting o) rights and !rivileges wholly incom!atible and re!ugnant to its e istence."&( Slavery was never )ormally abolished by the state, but the Kuock -alker cases essentially made all slaves )ree in a legal sense, and by $BF=, there were no slaves recorded in the <nited States census )or the state o) >assachusetts. Following States @y this time several states had banned the im!ortation o) salves.&& /n addition to this, several states would )ollow ;ennsylvania,s gradual abolition o) slavery as a model. These states would include 8ew +am!shire in $B%&, Connecticut in $B%3, 1hode /sland in $B%3, 8ew 9ork in $BFF and 8ew 5ersey in $%=3.&3 Federalism allowed these a)orementioned states to take anti0 slavery measurements without the consent o) a king or overreaching government. The action by these states shows the gradual shi)t in !eo!le7s attitudes towards the institution o) slavery. The attitude was re)lected by the )ederal government when the 8orthwest Drdinance was dra)ted. 8orthwest Drdinance So )ar the )ounders had worked with the states that had already been established. These states had been around )or sometime and were sovereign, in that they would create and decide their own laws in which they live under. As a result, and much like the three0)i)ths com!romise discussed below, these states did not agree on every issue and because o) that there were many issues com!romised on with regards to the )ormation o) the <nion. D) course one o) the issues o) contention at the convention was the issue o) slavery. This is something the )ederal government basically le)t alone in the constitution, again not !romoting it, yet not eliminating it. The )act o) the matter is that the South was reliant on slave labor and there was no way that the )ederal government was going to be able to outlaw it in the states i) they wanted to kee! the <nion together. So the real #uestion is what would ha!!en i) the )ederal government had a com!letely clean slate to work with6 2uckily )or the )ederal government, much o) America was le)t to be discovered. -ith the )ounding o) new land and the dra)ting o) the laws )or that land, the government would show a trending view4 that slavery has no !lace in America. This would be re)lected and signed into law with the dra)ting o) the 8orthwest Drdinance. The 8orthwest Territory gave the )ounders this clean slate. /nstead o) being given a cluster o) states with o!!osing views on slavery, among other things, they were given a whole new territory where the laws were unwritten. This would be the <nited States, )irst organi*ation o) a territory.&' /n essence, instead o) being given thirteen di))erent states that had di))ering laws
&$ .iCanio, Teddi. IThe Kuock -alker Trials4 $B%$0%&.IGreat American Trials. (==(. 1etrieved February $3, (=$& )rom Encyclo! htt!4LLwww.encyclo!edia.comLdocL$G(0&3F%(===&&.html &( Su!reme 5udicial Court . A(==FC. The massachusetts constitution, Eudicial review and slavery . The Kuock -alker cases. 1etrieved )rom htt!4LLwww.mass.govLcourtsLsEcLconstitution0slavery0e.html && For instance, in $B%B, Giginia !assed a ban on the im!ortation o) salves &3 +igginbotham, A. 2. A$FB%C. In the matter of color. D )ord4 D )ord <niversity ;ress. &' Although the area had been settled by colonist and slaves had been there )or #uite some time, there had been no

and views, they were given an entire territory o) land where the law remained unwritten )or the most !art. -hat would soon become the law o) the land )or the states o) Dhio, /ndiana, /llinois, >ichigan, -isconsin and >innesota, would become the )ramework )or not only the remainder o) the nation yet to be discovered, but )or the entire nation. The ordinance establishing the 8orthwest Territory was written and !assed by congress in $B%B. /n $B%F, the same year the <nited States Constitution took e))ect, the 8orthwest Drdinance was !assed and signed into law by ;resident George -ashington.&? The 8orthwest Drdinance was also known as the Freedom Drdinance due to what it !rovided )or slaves. Some view this as the )irst legislative action by the )ederal government that increased the tension that gave rise to the Civil -ar that would take !lace in $%?$. Even though the main )ocus o) the ordinance was to establish a system to )orm new states, undoubtedly the most im!ortant as!ect o) the ordinance was the !rohibition on slavery. Although, it did not act as an emanci!ation )or slaves already held by !eo!le in the area, it did ban any new slavery. S!eci)ically, the ordinance stated that MtN here shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory.I&B This ordinance #uelled the e !ansion o) slavery to those territories. 8ow, it should be noted that this ordinance was !assed by congress, so you may be asking how did the anti0slavery language get into an ordinance that was !assed by the same !eo!le that had !assed the constitution around the same time. Again, this is a !roduct o) )ederalism by allowing the states Aand territoriesC to choose the laws in which they live under. Although the South were o!!osed to a )ederal ban on slavery because they relied on it so heavily, the Southern states agreed to allow the anti0slavery law in the ordinance )or their own gain. They voted )or the law because they saw it as a way to stay ahead o) the com!etition. The South would continue to use slaves )or labor, which in their minds was a huge economic advantage, and would outlaw slavery in the 8orth to set them at a economic disadvantage. Another reason is that the south believed that southerners would !o!ulate the area and o))set any anti0slavery individuals.&% &F 8o matter the reasons or motives behind !assing the ordinance, one thing is certain4 This was a remarkable ste! towards the abolition o) slavery. The ordinance was essentially a beginning )or the country and would be a staring !oint )or the north and )urther western e !ansion. Slavery would not be tolerated throughout the mid0 west and west o) the >ississi!!i 1iver. The !assing o) the ordinance would establish the Dhio 1iver as the natural dividing line between the )ree and slave states in the country, establishing the 8orth" and South" boundaries )or the Civil -ar. The 8orth could have easily continued the status #uota and allowed slavery in the territory, but the country recently )ought a war )or )reedom )or all, not Eust )or some. The 8orth was knowingly setting u! this economic disadvantage )or the sake o) )reedom and the South saw this as the 8orth setting itsel) u! )or )ailure. +owever, )amed economist Adam Smith e amined the issue o) slavery )rom strictly an economic stand!oint. Smith believed that slavery created an
decision on how the area would be divided u!. The main !ur!ose o) the ordinance was to mandate )or the creation o) new states )rom the region, once a !o!ulation o) ?=,=== had been achieved within a !articular territory that territory would then become a state. -ur documents. A(==$C. 1etrieved )rom htt!4LLwww.ourdocuments.govLdoc.!h!6)lashRtrue:docR Id. Art. ? The South, in a )ailed attem!t, would try to !ass laws to allow slavery in /llinois and /ndiana. 1odrigue*, 5. ;. A$FFBC. The historical encyclopedia of world slavery. AGol. (C. Santa @arbara 4 AC@0C2/D

&? &B &% &F

ine))icient market in that slave owners were )orced to !urchase and maintain slaves year a)ter year since slaves had a very high mortality rate. The cost o) !urchasing slaves was then !assed on to the common consumer. This cost could be avoided by switching to a wage0labor economy and !roviding decent working conditions )or blacks. For e am!le, it would be chea!er to !ay blacks a low wage and not !rovide them with )ood, housing, or clothing than to continually buy new slaves and !rovide )or them. Dn to! o) this, he believed that slaves had no motivation to work and did the bare minimum to get by and not be !unished.3= The key to economic success in his eyes was a sel) interest, and this was something slaves did not have, and understandably so. -hat Adam Smith said about slavery did not seem to be too )ar o)) )rom the truth. The e))ect the !rohibition o) slavery had on the 8orth and South was something Ale is de Toc#ueville observed on his tour o) America. -hen he came to America between $%&$ and $%&(, he wrote about the di))erences between Dhio and Hentucky, two states only se!arated by a river. +e stated that des!ite the states being made u! almost identically, Dhio was a !o!ulation devoured by )everish activity, trying every means to make its )ortuneJ the !o!ulation seems !oor to look at, )or they work with their hands, but that work is the source o) riches." +e then described Hentucky as !eo!le which makes others work )or it and shows little com!assion, a !eo!le without energy, mettle or the s!irit o) enter!riseQ"+e also notes that the !o!ulation o) Hentucky, which had been !o!ulated )or nearly a century was growing slowly. -hile Dhio, only thirty years old had a million inhabitants. +e also noted the continued and economic growth that Dhio was having com!ared to Hentucky because slavery had made Hentuckians la*y, non0 innovating and unmotivated. +e chalked this result u! to slavery stating that MiNt degrades the black !o!ulation and enervates the white. /ts )atal e))ects are recogni*ed, and yet it is !reserved and will be !reserved )or a long time moreQ"3$ As it turns out, even though the South had an economic advantage as to labor, the )act that !eo!le in the 8orth had to work themselves ins!ired innovation and enter!rise, something the South could not )arm out to slaves. 2ike Adam Smith said, when !eo!le do not have a sel) interest in something, they do the bare minimum to get by. /n short, the South viewed slave labor as an economic advantage, while Toc#ueville saw this as a means o) making !eo!le la*y, unmotivated and unins!ired. This could not be more a!!arent when the Civil -ar took !lace and the South was out manu)actured and out numbered. The initiative the states took to make their own laws and the dra)ting o) the 8orthwest Drdinance are !er)ect e am!les o) how )ederalism worked to start the elimination o) slavery. The hearts and minds o) !eo!le were changing and )ederalism allowed these !eo!le to re)lect these changes by !assing laws in their res!ective states. Although with )ederalism, the South was )ree to kee! slavery alive and well, there is no doubt that )ederalism !layed an essential role in a gradual !rogression towards the elimination o) slavery. The Three-Fifths Com romise As mentioned earlier, a number o) the )ounders wanted to end slavery at the dra)ting o) the constitution. <! until this !oint, the states had not been allowed to !ass any laws to end slavery without authority )rom the @ritish Crown. -ith the constitution they were )ree to address what ever laws thought were detrimental to !reserving liberty. <n)ortunately, many o) the
3= Adam, S. A(==FC. *n in%uiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. .igireads. 3$ Toc#ueville, Ale is de, and Arthur Goldhammer. )emocracy In *merica. 8ew 9ork4 2iterary Classics o) the <nited States, (==3. -eb


southern states were economically de!endent on slavery )or their agricultural systems. So much that they re)used to Eoin the union i) slavery was outright outlawed.3( The dilemma was to either hold )irmly to the values contained in the .eclaration o) /nde!endence and abolish slavery )rom the start, thus eliminating the o!!ortunity to )orm a union o) states, or let slavery be an e ce!tion to )reedoms contained in )ounding documents. Faced with this !redicament, the )ounders were )orced to choose the latter in order to )orm a <nion. Fortunately, slavery was not all )orgotten and thus the three0)i)ths clause was created. ;erha!s one o) the most misunderstood !rovisions with regards to slavery that the )ounders !ut in !lace was the three0)i)ths clause contained in Article $, Section (, ;aragra!h & o) the Constitution.3& Anytime the )act that the )ounding )athers arguably took ste!s to eliminate slavery, the three0)i)ths clause is brought u! as !roo) that the )ounders only looked at slaves as three0)i)ths o) a !erson and that alone !roves that they were a bunch o) hy!ocrites. This argument is misguided and ignores the clause in its entirety. /t is true that slaves were only counted as three0)i)ths, instead o) being counted as a whole. Dn it,s )ace, this clause certainly dehumani*es slaves by treating them as only three0)i)ths o) a !erson. +owever, the conte t o) this clause needs to be e amined )urther in order to understand the reason and strategy behind the seemingly abhorrent clause. Another common misconce!tion was that this clause a!!lied to all A)rican Americans in the country at the time. +owever, in terms o) re!resentation, A)rican Americans were counted, in terms o) numbers, the same as whites and the clause only a!!lied to slaves.33 Another detail many !eo!le do not reali*e is that the clause itsel) was !ossibly the )irst o))icial )ederal language that acknowledged slaves as !eo!le, 3' rather than !ro!erty as they had been viewed as )or their entire e istence. To better understand the clause, it7s best to start with a brie) background on how the clause came to be. Again, i) there was one issue o) contention at the constitutional convention that could have !revented the union )rom )orming, it was slavery. The 8orth and South lived di))erent li)estyles. The South was economically de!endent on slaves.3? /t is estimated that )orty !ercent o) the !o!ulation in the South was com!osed o) slaves, )ar less than the 8orth.3B 8ow, something most !eo!le do not know and that is e tremely im!ortant understand is that the South wanted to count slaves as a )ull !erson, and the 8orth did not want them to be counted at all. This may sound odd because a good number o) !eo!le would think it to be the other way around. /) the South wanted to maintain slavery and !ower, why would they want to count slaves6 -hy, when they viewed slaves as !ro!erty, would they want to give them any #uali)ication as a !erson6 Dn the other side, why would the 8orth, who would go on to )ight a civil war in !art based on slavery, not want to count slaves as a !erson at all6 The answer to these #uestions gets down to the )undamental under!innings o) the three0)i)ths clause and the obEective
3( Gann, >., : -illen, 5. A(=$$C. ,ive thousand years of slavery. A!. $=3C. Toronto4 Tundra @ooks. 3& 1e!resentatives and direct Ta es shall be a!!ortioned among the several States which may be included within this <nion, according to their res!ective 8umbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole 8umber o) )ree ;ersons, including those bound to service )or a term o) years and e cluding /ndians not ta ed, three )i)ths o) all other ;ersons! 33 The clause s!eci)ically states that )ree !ersons are to be counted. 3' all other ;ersons 3? /t should be noted that according to the <S $F=F Census, slaves constituted $L' o) the !o!ulation in the states at the time the constitution was dra)ted and F=O o) those slaves lived in the South. 3B Garcia, 5., Dgle, .. >., : 1isinger, C. F. A(==3C. (reating america, a history of the united states. Evanston4 >c.ougal 2ittellL+oughton >i))lin


behind the clause. /n short, it all boils down to the !ower o) re!resentation. As discussed earlier, America was set u! as a re!resentative re!ublic with each state being it,s own laboratory o) democracy. Each laboratory would have re!resentation in the )ederal government based on !o!ulation. This is the !recise reason that the three0)i)ths com!romise was reached. The )act o) the matter was that due to the way the country was structured, the more !eo!le a state had, the more )ederal !ower they had. And this is the !recise reason the 8orth did not want to count slaves as individuals. /) slavers whole counted as whole individuals, the South, who overwhelmingly had a maEority o) the slaves, would have outnumbered the 8orth in congress, more so than they already dud. /n turn, the South would have had an overwhelming maEority o) the !ower to control the )ederal government. Along with that !ower, the South would have had the !ower to do what they wanted with slavery )or the country as a whole. This could have !rolonged the institution o) slavery !revented the )ederal government )rom !assing the ban on slave trading discussed below or even !revented the 8orthwest Drdinance )rom doing away with slavery in that territory. 8ot only did the three0)i)ths clause limit the re!resentation o) slave owners, but it also gave the southern states an incentive to do away with slavery. As mentioned earlier, the three0 )i)ths com!romise did not a!!ly to )ree blacks, they were still counted a one !erson in terms o) re!resentation. /n essence, i) the southern states )reed their slaves, then each slave would go u! in congressional re!resentation value by two0)i)ths and the number o) re!resentation received would increase !er slave )reed. /) the South re)used to )ree their slaves, the northern states would maintain their !ower without being overrun by the South and their mass !o!ulation o) slaves. /n theory, i) slaves were to be counted as one whole !erson in terms o) re!resentation, all the South would need to do would be to bring in mass amounts o) slaves to gain re!resentation in congress. The goal behind the clause was to reduce the amount o) slaves in the South and reduce their !ower. Although it may have limited the South7s !ower, because slaves were still counted as three0)i)ths and due to the invention o) the cotton gin3%3F, the slavery !o!ulation in the South e !loded anyway.'='$ The alternative to the three0)i)ths clause would have considered slaves )or re!resentation !ur!oses only, and they would not have been given any !ower to vote or voice their o!inion. This seems like an odd !ro!osition as the South considered slaves !ro!erty and not human. +ow how could they count )or re!resentation !ur!oses6 1egardless, all the !ower would have went to the South, who was vehemently o!!osed to ending slavery or doing anything about it. Arguably, the three0)i)ths clause ended the deadlock at the constitutional convention that !revented the <nion )rom )orming. As a result, the South would maintain !ower, but they would not obtain an overwhelming re!resentation in congress due to the !o!ulation o) slaves in the south.
3% Although the cotton gin made !rocessing cotton less labor intensive, slaves were still re#uired to grow and !ick cotton at an even more ra!id rate. The cotton gin is o)ten credited )or the e !ansion o) slavery when it was invented in $BF&. This gin increased the !ro)itability o) cotton and demand became greater )or slaves to work the )ields. @y $%?=, one out o) every three !eo!le in the south was a slave. 3F htt!4LLwww.eliwhitney.orgLnewLmuseumLeli0whitneyLcotton0gin '= Throughout colonial and antebellum history, <.S. slaves lived !rimarily in the South. Slaves com!rised less than a tenth o) the total Southern !o!ulation in $?%= but grew to a third by $BF=. At that date, (F&,=== slaves lived in Girginia alone, making u! 3( !ercent o) all slaves in the <.S. at the time. South Carolina, 8orth Carolina, and >aryland each had over $==,=== slaves. A)ter the American 1evolution, the Southern slave !o!ulation e !loded, reaching about $.$ million in $%$= and over &.F million in $%?=. '$ Franklin, 5ohn +. ,rom Slavery to ,reedom. 8ew 9ork4 Hno!), $F%%


Finally, the South would not agree to the amendment based on re!resentation alone. They reali*ed the !ower o) re!resentation had and what they were giving u!. @ecause o) this/n order to !ass the amendment, the 8orth needed to o))er something else. The 8orth did Eust this and because the South saw this as such a concession on their !art, the 8orth agreed to ,in addition to the re!resentation !ortion o) the amendment, to tie direct ta es to the amendment as well. This was not considered initially and only written into the clause because the South demanded it in order to !ass the amendment )or re!resentation !ur!oses.'( /n turn, the re!resentation o) three0 )i)ths would also be used to measure a state,s ta liability to the )ederal government. This was the )inal !ush that the South needed in order to agree on this amendment. And thus, the three0 )i)ths com!romise was law. The im!act o) the three0)i)ths com!romise still allowed the South considerable re!resentation in congress, but it is estimated that the South lost ? to $' seats as a result o) the com!romise.'& /n a study o) the im!act o) the three0)i)ths clause, authors used two counter0 )actual !remises4 count slaves as a whole !erson and not count them at all in terms o) re!resentation. <nder both scenarios, the study )ound that congressional seat a!!ortionment, legislative battles, and !residential elections would have di))ered )rom what actually ha!!ened.'3 /t estimated that nearly hal) o) the +ouse o) 1e!resentatives votes have had di))erent outcomes, including maEor legislation u! )or vote during that time. /n addition, and !robably the most interesting conclusion reached by the study was that, had slaves not been counted at all, the two !residential elections o) $%=='' and $%(3'? would have had di))erent outcomes.'B The study really showed the drastic di))erence that would have been made had the salves not been counted at all. Although not ideal )or the 8orth or South, the com!romise !revented the south )rom obtaining overwhelming control over the country. /) it had not been !ut into !lace, the South may have ke!t slavery around )or a very long time sim!ly by adding more salves. The three0)i)ths com!romise was not the ideal solution, but again it was a com!romise that allowed the <nion to be )ormed. /t was also written with the though o) eliminating slavery in mind. Although it may not have worked #uite as well or as #uick as the 8orth would have liked it to, it diminished the South7s !ower. <n)ortunately, on it,s )ace and by its !lain language, the three0)i)ths com!romise seems like a com!letely racist and !ro0slavery !rovision, when it was actually a measure taken to eliminate slavery. @ut at this time, in order to )orm the <nion, this seemed like the best o!tion. ;erha!s the brightest light that the clause announced was its recognition o) slaves as all other !ersons" instead o) !ro!erty. @an on Slave Trade It were doubtless to be wished, that the power of prohibiting the importation of slaves had not
'( htt!4LLwww.digitalhistory.uh.eduLdis!Ste tbook.c)m6smt/.R&:!sidR$?& '& +umes, @. .., Swi)t, E. H., Galelly, 1. >., Finegold, H., : Fink, E. C. A(==(C. 1e!resentation o) the antebellum south in the +ouse o) 1e!resentatives4 measuring the im!act o) the three0)i)ths clause. /n ;arty, ;rocess, and ;olitical (hange in (ongress+ 7ew ;erspectives on the 'istory of (ongress 4!!. 3'(0??C. '3 Id. '' The election o) Thomas 5e))erson as )ourth ;resident o) the <nited States. '? The election o) 5ohn Kuincy Adams was decided by the +ouse o) 1e!resentatives even though Andrew 5ackson actually won the electoral college and !o!ular vote. 'B These authors only note maEor !ieces o) legislation that !assed. +owever, it is clearly the case that i) these measures had been de)eated in the +ouse then national !olicy would have changed since the measures had either !assed or eventually !assed the Senate. Thus, some o) these measures would not have !assed i) the South had not been over re!resented by the im!act o) the Three0Fi)ths Clause.


been postponed until the year 1#<#, or rather that it had been suffered to have immediate operation. 8ut it is not difficult to account, either for this restriction on the general government, or for the manner in which the whole clause is expressed. It ought to be considered as a great point gained in favor of humanity, that a period of twenty years may terminate forever, within these States, a traffic which has so long and so loudly upbraided the barbarism of modern policy= that within that period, it will receive a considerable discouragement from the federal government, and may be totally abolished, by a concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory example which has been given by so great a majority of the 6nion. 'appy would it be for the unfortunate *fricans, if an e%ual prospect lay before them of being redeemed from the oppressions of their 1uropean brethren 00 5ames >adison, Federalist ;a!er 8o. 3( At this !oint. it is #uite clear that there were many concessions made regarding the issue o) slavery, with the ultimate goal o) )orming a union o) states. Another less known concession made during the dra)ting o) the constitution regarded the im!ortation o) slaves. /n another com!romise between the 8orth and the South, Article $ Section F o) the Constitution was written.'% The clause recogni*ed that slavery was a national issue and also allocated and allowed the )ederal government the !ower to regulate the institution o) slavery. +owever, because o) the reliance on slavery, and in the s!irit o) com!romise the )ederal government was not allowed to !ass any laws )or (= years, or until the year $%=% regarding the im!ortation o) slaves'F. /n addition to !roviding the )ederal government with the !ower to regulate the institution o) slavery, the states were still allowed to govern themselves. As discussed earlier, many o) states by the time $%=% rolled around had banned slavery or had !assed laws gradual abolition laws. /t should also be known that a number o) states banned the im!ortation o) slaves !rior to the act signed into law in $%=B, and enacted as soon as the constitution allowed.?= To better e !lain the !ur!ose behind this clause, 5ames -ilson, one o) the )ounding )athers and one o) the si original Su!reme Court 5ustices, said that MuNnder the !resent Con)ederation, the states may admit the im!ortation o) slaves as long as they !leaseJ but by this article, a)ter the year $%=%, the Congress will have !ower to !rohibit such im!ortation, notwithstanding the dis!osition o) any state to the contrary. / consider this as laying the )oundation )or banishing slavery out o) this countryJ and though the !eriod is more distant than / could wish, yet it will !roduce the same kind, gradual change, which was !ursued in ;ennsylvania.?$ Although the Constitution !rovided !rotection )rom the )ederal government to the states on salve trade, it !laced a time limit on how long the states would enEoy that !rotection. The clause also still allowed the )ederal government to write the laws )or new land discovered, in which they could ban slavery altogether. Even be)ore Congress was allowed to !lace a com!lete ban on slave trading, they took
'% The >igration or /m!ortation o) such ;ersons as any o) the States now e isting shall think !ro!er to admit, shall not be !rohibited by the Congress !rior to the 9ear one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Ta or duty may be im!osed on such /m!ortation, not e ceeding ten dollars )or each ;erson." 'F Dr the year one thousand eight hundred and eight. ?= 8orth Carolina, 8ew 9ork, >aryland, .elaware, >assachusetts, ;ennsylvania, Georgia, Connecticut, and 1hode /sland all !rohibited the im!ortation o) slaves be)ore $%==. ?$ Elliott, 5. A(==?C. The debates in the several state conventions on the adoption of the federal constitution, as recommended by the general convention at philadelphia, in 1"#. AGol. 'C. Scholarly ;ublishing D))ice, <niversity o) >ichigan 2ibrary. 1etrieved )rom htt!4LL!ress !ubs.uchicago.eduL)oundersLdocumentsLa$SFS$s?. html


allowable ste!s to slow down and discourage the trade o) slaves. For e am!le, in $BF=, be)ore a congress !assed a law !rohibiting <S citi*ens )rom engaging in the slave trade to )oreign !orts.?( Then, in $BF3 it became illegal to manu)acture, e#ui!, or otherwise assist any vessels that were to be used )or slave trade.?& A)ter several years, and a)ter many states had already banned the im!ortation o) slaves, in $%=', Ste!hen 1ow @radley, a senator )rom Germont, introduced a bill to ban the im!ortation o) slaves.?3 Dn >arch (, $%=B, the law was !assed by both the house and the senate. 5e))erson then signed the bill into law immediately a)ter its !assage on >arch &, $%=B. .ue to the restriction on the )ederal government,s !ower, the restriction would not become e))ective until 5anuary $, $%=%, as !rescribed by the constitution. Although the im!ortation o) slaves was made illegal, laws are always broken. To en)orce the ban, <nited States 8avy shi!s were dis!atched to sei*e sus!ected slave shi!s along the Atlantic coast. The <nited States 8avy was also dis!atched to the west coast o) A)rica )rom $%$F to $%?$. Their mission was to interce!t shi!s sus!ected o) carrying slaves.?' Although the clause did not !ut a ban on the institution o) slavery, it did !lace restrictions on the im!ortation and !revented more slaves )rom coming to the <nited States. Some viewed this as a way to eliminate slavery by choking o)) the su!!ly. The !roblem was that slaves were already here and there were !lenty to go around, regardless o) im!ortation. /t also dis!layed the countries willingness to consider the elimination o) slavery altogether. Finally, it made slavery a national issue and one that the )ederal government had the !ower to control and regulate. THE FOUNDERS "The unfortunate condition of the persons, whose labor in part I employ, has been the only unavoidable subject of regret. To ma:e the adults among them as easy and comfortable in their circumstances as their actual state of ignorance and improvidence would admit, and to lay a foundation to prepare the rising generation for a destiny different from that in which they were born, afforded some satisfaction to my mind, and could not I hoped be displeasing to the justice of the (reator."$$ 2eorge .ashington 1"## There is no doubt that when America was )ounder it was uni#ue. 8o country e isted that !ut natural human rights in )ront o) governmental !ower. @ut, because o) he !revalence o) slavery in the <nited States at that time there are many #uestions asked. +ow could the same !eo!le who !reached )reedom and liberty )rom the chains o) government, !lace !eo!le in chains strictly based on their race6 +ow could an individual with natural god0given rights be considered !ro!erty6 +ow is it that we can hold these individuals to be so wonder)ul when they owned slaves6 These #uestions are not easily answered and that is !robably the reason why they still !lague and tarnish the )ounders7 images.
?( Thomas, +. A$FFBC. The slave trade+ The story of the atlantic slave trade, 1>>< 1#"<. 8ew 9ork, 894 Simon : Schuster. ?& Id. ?3 @radley, S. A(==FC. Stephen 9. 8radley+ &etters -f * 9evolutionary .ar ;atriot *nd ?ermont Senator . 5e))erson, 8orth Carolina4 >c)arland : Com!any, /nc. ?' .ow, G. F. A(=$$C. Slave ships and slaving. >ineola, 8ew 9ork4 .over ;ublications, /nc. ?? htt!4LLwww.mountvernon.orgLsitesLmountvernon.orgL)ilesLTheO(=DnlyO(=<navoidableO(=SubEectO(=o) O(=1egretS5SO(=edits.!d)


First, the )ounders were not !er)ect. They were )allible men. They had their vices, grievances and share o) mistakes. 5ust like all o) us. -ith that being said, it is true that a lot o) the )ounding )athers had slaves. Es!ecially the more !rominent ones that are talked about e tensively. +owever, it is also true that a lot o) the less known )ounding )athers did not have slaves or released them soon a)ter reali*ing the errors o) their ways. Although it does seem rather contradictory, a lot o) them were vehemently o!!osed to the institution o) slavery and worked hard to abolish it, even though themselves owned slaves. /t is )irst im!ortant to understand that at that time slavery was nothing new to America. To !ut into !ers!ective, slavery was around $(& years be)ore ;resident George -ashington was born, ?B years be)ore the .eclaration o) /nde!endence and $%= years be)ore the constitution was rati)ied. The !oint is that, as disgusting as it may seem, slavery was a !art o) everyday society. The )ounders grew u! in a society that had acce!ted slavery and one that considered slaves as !ro!erty. This was something that had been around )or close to two centuries be)ore the constitution was written. /t was only a)ter the 1evolutionary -ar and once the country was )ounded, that ste!s were !ut into motion to )ight the institution o) slavery. -hether this was by abolition societies led by some )ounders or done through legislative measures, the end o) the revolutionary war was when the )irst building blocks to eliminate slavery were built. A)ter )ighting a war )or their own )reedom, colonist were )inally able to reali*e the contradiction they were committing and able to )ace it as well. As a result, slavery was a widely contested issue at the constitutional convention. +owever, at least the )ounders were able to address slavery. The thing that bogs !eo!le down is that some o) them did not !ractice what they !reached. Although there were many )ounding )athers, the main and most !o!ular )athers are o)ten identi)ied as 5ohn Adams, @enEamin Franklin, Ale ander +amilton, 5ohn 5ay, Thomas 5e))erson, 5ames >adison and George -ashington.?B ;erha!s because o) his role in the dra)ting the words o) all men are created e#ual," Thomas 5e))erson is o)ten !ointed to as the most hy!ocritical )ounding )ather o) the country.?% To say that 5e))erson,s actions and words were contradictory would be an understatement. +owever, 5e))erson7s words, not his actions, were what trans)ormed the country and !layed an essential role in the elimination o) slavery. For e am!le, in his original dra)t o) the .eclaration o) /nde!endence, 5e))erson decried the Hing )or resisting any legislative attem!t to !rohibit or to restrain slavery ?FB=AThis !aragra!h was almost com!letely
?B 1ichard @. /orris, Seven .ho Shaped -ur )estiny+ The ,ounding ,athers as 9evolutionaries A8ew 9ork4 +ar!er : 1ow, $FB&C ?% For e am!le, !lease see a recent 8ew 9ork Times D!0Ed titled The >onster o) >onticello where he is re)erred to as cree!y and brutal, among other things. Available at htt!4LLwww.nytim L$(L=$es.comL(=$(Lo!inionLthe0real0 thomas0Ee))erson.html ?F +e has waged cruel war against human nature itsel), violating it7s most sacred rights o) li)e and liberty in the !ersons o) a distant !eo!le who never o))ended him, ca!tivating : carrying them into slavery in another hemis!here, or to incur miserable death in their trans!ortation thither. this !iratical war)are, the o!!robrium o) in)idel !owers, is the war)are o) the C+1/ST/A8 king o) Great @ritain. determined to kee! o!en a market where >E8 should be bought : sold, he has !rostituted his negative )or su!!ressing every legislative attem!t to !rohibit or to restrain this e ecrable commerce4 and that this assemblage o) horrors might want no )act o) distinguished die, he is now e citing those very !eo!le to rise in arms among us, and to !urchase that liberty o) which he has de!rived them by murdering the !eo!le on whom he also obtruded themJ thus !aying o)) )ormer crimes committed against the liberties o) one !eo!le, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives o) another." B= From ;a!ers o) Thomas 5e))erson, ed. 5ulian ;. @oyd A;rinceton4 ;rinceton <niversity ;ress, $F'=C, $43(?


removed )rom the )inal dra)t by congressB$C. <n)ortunately )or 5e))erson, actions s!eak louder than words. -hen !eo!le e amine 5e))erson they tend to look at the )act that he owned slaves, had several children out o) wedlock with a slave and the )act that he barely )reed any slaves in his li)etime. <nderstanding the shar! contradiction that 5e))erson !resents is something that historians have had a hard time understand. @ut one e !lanation is that he sim!ly could not a))ord to )ree his slaves.B( +e lived an e travagant li)estyleB& and was in debt throughout most o) his li)e and even in death.B3 For him, slaves were necessary )or him to maintain his li)estyle. To !ut it succinctly, slavery was sim!ly an economic evil needed in order )or him to maintain his status. Sim!ly !ut, 5e))erson was a walking contradiction )or the )act that he sacri)iced another man7s )reedom )or his own gain, much like the Hing had done to the colonist to a much lesser degree. Another one o) the more !lausible theories !ro!osed by some scholars is that he did not want to let loose a bunch o) !eo!le whom had no skills or e !erience to )unction in the world.B' They would not be able to su!!ort themselves. Another theory is that 5e))erson and many o) his !eers were a)raid that the abolition o) slavery would cause violence throughout the South and racial !reEudice in the 8orth.B? These all are tenable answers to the contradiction that 5e))erson seemed to live by, but the sim!lest one seems to hold the most credence. +e was sim!ly an ideologue who could not a))ord to )ree his slaves. +e relied on them to amass his wealth and to maintain his wealth. Freeing them was sim!ly not an o!tion )or his own well being. Although not success)ul in his !ersonal li)e Aowning slaves, debt, children out o) wedlockC, 5e))erson was certainly success)ul in his words and thoughts. /t is easy to understand that the words and ideas )rom a man who wrote the .eclaration i) /nde!endence, signed the $%=% ban on slavery and !layed a big !art in the dra)ting o) the northwest ordinance, as discussed above, are discredited by some because o) his actions. +owever, it is also im!ortant to look at society at that time and the norms that went along with it. The contradiction by a man who called slavery a moral de!ravity" and a hideous blot," cannot be easily reconciled with the )act that he owned slaves and re)used to )ree most o) them. /n addition to that, the )act that at times he was !olitically )or slavery then against slavery is also !u**lingBB. /) anything, 5e))erson,s words should be looked at inde!endently )rom his actions as they were revolutionary, thought !rovoking and novel. /t may be hard to se!arate the man )rom the words because o) the blatant
B$ 5ohn Adams to Timothy ;ickering, $%((4 / was delighted with Mthe dra)t,sN high tone and the )lights o) oratory with which it abounded, es!ecially that concerning 8egro slavery, which, though / knew his Southern brethren would never su))er to !ass in Congress, / certainly never would o!!ose. . . . Congress cut o)) about a #uarter o) it, as / e !ected they wouldJ but they obliterated some o) the best o) it, and le)t all that was e ce!tionable, i) anything in it was. / have long wondered that the original dra)t had not been !ublished. / su!!ose the reason is the vehement !hili!!ic against 8egro slavery." B( Allison, A. >.The 9eal Thomas !efferson. A(nd Ed., Gol. $C. 8ational Center For Constitutional Studies. B& 5e))erson lived !er!etually beyond his means, s!ending large amounts o) money on building !roEects, )urnishings,wine, etc. B3 5e))erson7s debts at his death amounted to T$=B,===. Converting this )igure into a modern estimate is an ine act !rocess at best, but it would !robably be somewhere between T$,===,=== and T(,===,===. B' htt!4LLwww.monticello.orgLsiteL!lantation0and0slaveryL!ro!erty B? A!!leby, 5. A(==&C. Thomas !efferson. 8ew 9ork4 Times @ooks +enry +old and Com!any 22C. BB /n the Girginia Assembly in $B?F, he !revented a manumission aw )rom being enacted. Contrastingly, under the Articles o) Con)ederation in $B%3, 5e))erson !ro!osed )ederal legislation banning slavery in the 8ew Territories o) the 8orth and South, which )ailed to !ass Congress by one vote.


contradiction, but Eust because he did not !ractice what he !reached, it does not make the words any less ins!iring, insight)ul or revolutionary. Another )ounding )ather o) the country o)ten !ointed to as a slave owner was George -ashington. ;eo!le o)ten say the same things about -ashington, although he lived a di))erent ty!e o) li)e style than 5e))erson did. George -ashington, is considered the )ather o) the country. +e led a country to )reedom, but still owned slaves. -ashington, also )rom Girginia like 5e))erson, grew u! with slaves his whole li)e. /n )act, a)ter his )ather died, -ashington inherited ten slaves and !ro!erty at the age o) eleven.B% 2ike many o) the )ounding )athers and individuals at that time, his views were constantly evolving regarding slavery. +owever, although -ashington commented in !rivate about his distaste )or the institution o) slavery, he never !ublicly commented on it.BF This was almost certainly due to the )act that he did not want to )racture the delicate new re!ublic that had been )ormed. Slavery was a decisive issue, and bringing it u! would only divide the nation when uni)ication was essential at that time. Another !ossibility, like 5e))erson, could be because he could not have a))orded to release his slaves. +e had a mass amount o) land and without slaves this land would be worthless. Some !eo!le ask why -ashington did not mandate the elimination o) slavery when he became !resident. The sim!le answer to this #uestion is that -ashington did not want to be viewed as a king. +e wanted to distance himsel) )rom acting as a king and im!osing his will u!on the entire <nited States. 1ather than concerning himsel) with domestic issues as a Hing would do, he seemed to be more concerned about )oreign a))airs. This was the way the Country was to be set u!. -ashington, understanding that he could not act as king and that slavery needed to be abolished democratically rather than by a !residential order, in a letter written in $B%?, wrote that / can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than / do to see a !lan ado!ted )or the abolition o) it AslaveryCJ but there is only one !ro!er and e))ectual mode by which it can be accom!lished, and that is by 2egislative authorityJ and this, as )ar as my su))rage will go, shall never be wanting.I -hatever the reason, some view it as a missed o!!ortunity on -ashington7s !art. Dthers view it as a calculated ste! to establish and !reserve the <nion. ;erha!s omniscient or reali*ing the inevitable, Although -ashington never made the issue o) slavery a national issue, his last will and testament !rovided )or the )reedom o) all o) his slaves and !rovided any o) the elderly or in)ant slaves to be cared )or by his heirs. -ashington not only )reed his slaves, but also made sure they were taken care o). /t is clear that this is certainly an issue that he struggled with throughout his li)e, but he also )ought )or )reedom and saw the eventual demise o) slavery being accom!lished legislatively. The two mentioned )ounding )athers are among a great number o) individuals that hel!ed create the nation. They are in )act two o) the most !rominent historical )igures when looking at history o) the nation. There are many more )ounding )athers that owned slaves and vehemently o!!osed slavery, much like 5e))erson and -ashington. There are also some who saw nothing wrong with the institution o) slavery. D)ten )orgotten are the )ounders that did not own slaves at all, )reed them. D)ten underrated as a )ounding )ather o) the country is America7s )irst vice !resident is
B% ;erry, 5. A., : Allison, A. >. A$FF$C. The 9eal 2eorge .ashington. 8ational Center For Constitutional Studies. BF htt!4LLgw!a!ers.virginia.eduLarticlesLtwohigS(.html


5ohn Adams. /n addition to being America7s second !resident, Adams also !layed a critical role in the dra)ting o) the .eclaration i) /nde!endence with Thomas 5e))erson. /t is well documented that never bought or em!loyed slaves. 1ather, he em!loyed )ree blacks. Even though Adams tried to kee! the issue out o) national !olitics while he was !resident, because o) the antici!ated southern res!onse, he vehemently o!!osed the evil o) colossal magnitude. Again, in an e))ort to kee! the newly )ormed re!ublic a union he did not think it was time to address the issue o) slavery. +owever, actions to s!eak louder than words and as discussed earlier, in $B%=, the >assachusetts constitution was ruled to e))ectively eliminate slavery by the very words written in the constitution. Those words were in )act written by none other than the acting governor at the time, 5ohn Adams. 5ohn 5ay is also a lesser known )ounding )ather to most !eo!le, but was actually the )irst chie) 5ustice o) the <nited States. -hile serving as the secretary o) )oreign a))airs, 5ay )ormed the 8ew 9ork State Society )or ;romoting the >anumission o) Slaves. Their mission was to assist blacks, )ight )or black rights and boycott businesses and news!a!ers that !romoted slavery. /n $B%B, 5ay also hel!ed establish 8ew 9ork,s A)rican Free School, which started with )i)ty0si students. +e also continued to !rovide )inancial su!!ort to the school so that blacks could be educated. @y the time school was handed over the the city,the school had educated well over $,=== black students. /t is true that 5ay did own salves, but he e !lained that he would !urchase slaves and manumit them at !ro!er ages. +e would only )ree them once they gained the necessary skills to )unction in the )ree world and make a living doing so. A)ter his term as chie) 5ustice, 5ay became the governor o) 8ew 9ork and in $BFF wrote, advocated and !assed the gradual abolition act that. All this )rom a man whose )ather was one o) the largest slave owners in 8ew 9ork. /n addition to the above mentioned )ounding )athers who actually !ractice what they !reached, there are many more )ounding )athers that did the same. @enEamin Franklin did own slaves, but )ollowing the revolutionary war, and a)ter reaching an age o) enlightenment that enslavement o) human beings was not natural law, he )reed his slaves and )ounded the ;ennsylvania Society )or the Abolition o) Slavery. Franklin re)erred to slavery as an an atrocious debasement o) human nature, and is why he made it a !oint at the end o) his li)e to )ight )or the abolition o) the institution. Ale ander +amilton hel!ed with 5ohn 5ay to )ind the 8ew 9ork >anumission Society. Dther )ounders that were !art o) similar societies that worked to end slavery were 5ames >adison, 5ames >onroe and 5ohn >arshall. This list could go on and on about )ounders that o!!osed slavery and showed it not only in their words, but in their action. Some o) them it took time to come to the age o) enlightenment that slavery was immoral and wrong. @e)ore we can cast all the )ounders as racists slave owners, one must take into account that a lot o) the !rominent )ounders o)ten cited were )rom the south. -ashington and 5e))erson alone were )rom the south and slavery had been instilled in their lives since they were born. Although it does not make it right or Eusti)y their actions com!letely, it is one thing most !eo!le tend to )orget. Something that has been enshrined in you since the day you were born does not seem like something that would be wrong. /n order to reach the conclusion, it takes a lot o) work and intellectual reasoning. ;erha!s Charles Carroll, who never )reed his slaves, best !resents the inesca!able contradiction that !lagued some o) more !rominent )ounders when he said M-Nhy kee! alive the #uestion o) slavery6 /t is admitted by all to be a great evil. Even i) they )ounders were not able to abolish slavery outright, it is clear that the revolution and the documents written $F

were the starting !oint o) a gradual movement, sentiment and reali*ation ) natural law that slavery was wrong. CONSLUSION The !oint o) this !a!er is not to e onerate the )ounding )athers as righteous individuals that )ought to end slavery until their dying breath. @ut it is also not to con)irm and )urther insult the )ounding )athers as slave owning hy!ocrites. The !oint o) this !a!er is to )irst understand that slavery was not brought or created by the )ounders, an in )act had been around )ro almost two centuries be)ore the Constitution. The #uite remarkable thing is the )act that even though the institution o) slavery had been ingrained in society and acce!ted among most, the )ounders reali*ed that slavery was a !roblem. Some reali*ed this earlier in their lives and some not until their elder years. +o!e)ully, it is better understood why this was not a !o!ular view at the time and why anti0slavery individuals needed to com!romise and work together with !ro0slavery individuals. The )ounders were ins!irational individuals that s!oke !ro)ound works, although they all did not live by those words, there is no doubt that they were revolutionary. The constitution best illustrated their core belie)s as to how individuals should be treated. Although not as immediate as it should have been, the constitution, !ut in !lace by the )ounders, guaranteed )reedom )or all eventually. Although, the )ounders and other individuals worked to change the hearts and minds o) individuals regarding slavery, it took a civil war to end it once and )or all. .oes this country have an ugly !ast in regards to slavery6 9es. .oes this country have an ugly !ast in regards to racism and the treatment o) A)rican Americans6 /n closing, change takes time, es!ecially when you are trying change acce!ted social norms. There is no doubt though, that the )ounding o) this country and #uest )or inde!endence started the rolling rock o) change with regards to slavery. The )ounders and their dra)ting o) the constitution codi)ied this change, allowed it to take !lace and it was the hearts and minds o) individuals who made )reedom ha!!en. The constitution guaranteed that this )reedom would stay in !lace and like Thomas 5e))erson said, all men were created e#ual." Finally, the institution o) slavery at that time should by no means be e cused by anyone, however it should, in the very least, better understood.
he Founders were born into a world they didnt create. They did splendidly in re-making that world.