The U.S. Constitution And Slavery How The Framers Of The Us Constitution Avoided (And Allowed) Slavery Through Carefully Worded Clauses

1050 words - 4 pages

The framers of the Constitution of the United States chose not to prohibit slavery but to instead address the issue via carefully worded clauses. This provided a compromise for the states that were clearly divided on the issue. A close look at the document shows ambiguity in the language pertaining to the holding of slaves as the Framers debated over the extent to which slavery would be included, permitted, or prohibited. Slavery was an important part of the economy, but it had to be dealt with tactfully. The Framers chose to do this not explicitly using the words, but by creating several compromises that represented the interests of the nation as they knew it and predicted it to be in the future. Three clauses deal with the issue: the three-fifths compromise, the slave trade clause, and the fugitive-slave law. All point to the Framers' intentions in the creation of the Constitution and prove that it neither authorized nor prohibited slavery.Though slavery was frowned upon in many parts of the country, most of the leaders of the time owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other founding fathers owned slaves but at the same time publicly condemned the practice as morally and ethically "repugnant." They did not want to appear in support of slavery or to perpetuate its practice, but as an undeniable part of the economy they could not simply prohibit it. For one, the anticipated union of states would include Slave-produced crops were beginning to windfall and the south was gaining power. The Constitution had to include and protect the southern states as a large percentage the new legislative branch of government would be represented by this area. Thus the mention of "slave" was purposely neglected.By failing to question slavery, the nation benefited economically. If the Framers had outlawed the practice, southern states would have not joined the union and almost half of the size of the anticipated United States would be lost. This would mean less revenue from taxation and an overall poor economy. By allowing the slave-trade to continue, the cost of slaves (this benefited all, not just the south) was considerably less as slaves were cheaper when imported from Africa. Making concessions such as the three-fifths and slave-trade clauses were compromises-meaning they benefit both sides.The first indication of slavery in the Constitution, the Three-Fifths Compromise, appears in Article I, Section 2. As a means of counting the population for taxation, it states (by implication) that slaves are to be counted not as a whole person, but as three-fifths of one. The ambiguous language implies this by naming "whole" people as those who are free or bound by service for a limited time (indentured servants) and those who are not free, or, " all other Persons" as slaves. It acts as a compromise between the north and south by allowing the federal government to collect more taxes from states with many slaves (as slaves occupied almost forty percent of...

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