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"Mr Gorhan1 seconded the motion.

"Mr. Madison. Twenty years will produce all the mischief that can be apprehended from the liberty to import slaves. So long a term will be more dishonorable to the American character, than to say nothing about it in the Constitution.

"On the motion, which passed in the affirmative— New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-6;3 New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, no—4.”


On the 29th day of August, we find "Article 7, Section 6,5 by the Committee of eleven reported to be struck out (see the twenty-fourth instant), being now taken up

"Mr. Pinckney' moved to postpone the Report in favor of the following proposition: "That no act of the Legislature for the purpose of regulating the commerce of the United States with foreign powers, among the several States, shall be passed without the assent of twothirds of the members of each House' "

"Mr. Martin 8 seconded the motion.

"Gen. Pinckney said it was the true interest of the Southern States to have no regulation of commerce, but considering the loss brought on the commerce of the Eastern States by the Revolution, their liberal conduct toward the views of South Carolina, and the interest the weak Southern States had in being united with the strong Eastern States, he thought it proper that no fetters should be imposed on the power of making com

1 Of Massachusetts.

2 Of Virginia.

'In the Madison Papers, this is "7," a misprint of course.

* Madison's Papers, Vol. 1, p. 1427. "One member from each State.

8 Luther Martin, of Maryland.


As to a navigation act. "Of South Carolina also.

"He meant the permission to import slaves. An understanding on the two subjects of navigation and slavery, had taken place between those parts of the Union, which explains the vote on the motion depending, as well as the language of Gen. Pinckney and others."-(Madison's Papers, Vol. 3, pp. 1450-1451.)

mercial regulations, and that his constituents, though prejudiced against the Eastern States, would be reconciled to this liberality. He had himself, he said, prejudices against the Eastern States, before he came here, but would acknowledge that he had found them as liberal and candid as any men whatever.'

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The debate continued, showing great diversity of opinion among members, even from the same States. Finally

"On the question to postpone, in order to take up Mr. Pinckney's motion—

"Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, aye— 4; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina, no-7. "The Report of the Committee for striking out Section 6, requiring two-thirds of each House to pass a navigation act, was then agreed to, nem. con.

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It will be seen from the above votes that whilst North Carolina had voted with South Carolina and Georgia on the question of the importation of slaves until 1808, yet Maryland and North Carolina, and even Georgia (who seems to have repented at the last moment), now voted with Virginia to postpone the whole report, in order to take up Mr. Pinckney's motion. Which motion meant defeat of the entire Report; for if he had carried his proposition in favor of the two-thirds vote, it would have been equivalent to the defeat of the clause permitting the slave trade. As the Eastern States would never have voted for the Report had it contained the two-thirds clause. And the great mistake and misfortune of the continuance of the slave trade would have been avoided. But whilst Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware had voted with Virginia against the importation of slaves, yet, on the question to postpone the Report in order to take up Mr. Pinckney's motion in favor of the two-thirds vote, Pennsylvania, New 1 Madison's Papers, Vol. 3, p. 1456.

Jersey and Delaware joined the three New England States and South Carolina, as against Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia; thus defeating every effort of those men who were opposed to the consummation of this bargain in the interest of greed on both sides.

And so was passed that famous (or infamous?) clause in the Constitution, by which it was declared that "the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by Congress, prior to the year 1808."

New England was especially interested in navigation, and for the sake of gaining some commercial advantages for herself (in which she was sustained by Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware), she joined hands with South Carolina and Georgia in fastening upon the country for twenty years that fatal institution of slavery, which grew, from a few wretched captives in Boston and on the James River, to such colossal proportions, and became so interwoven with the interests, the affections, and the prejudices of a great portion of the American people, as to make it a difficult and dangerous question for any man to handle, and almost impossible to get rid of.

The fugitive slave law, by which, "If any person bound to service or labor in any of the United States, shall escape to another State, he or she shall not be discharged from such service, or labor, in consequence of any regulation subsisting in the State to which he may escape, but shall be delivered up to the person justly claiming their services or labor," was first made a part of the 6th Article of the Ordinance of 1787 for the government of the North-western Territory, which had been ceded by Virginia to the United States: and by which slavery was forever prohibited in all of that great Territory north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi River.

This "fugitive slave law," as it was called, was a

month later, with some changes of verbiage, incorporated into the Constitution.

There can not be a doubt that the prohibition, by the old Congress, of slavery in the Territory, was the consideration granted to the North for the three-fifths representation and this law for the recovery of slaves; although it was considered then by some of the most superior minds that Congress had not the right under the Articles of Confederation to make such prohibition.

All of these arrangements were most distinctly quid pro quo in their nature. The three-fifths representation and the fugitive slave law, given in exchange for the prohibition of slavery in the North-west Territory, and the continuation of the slave trade in exchange for the defeat of the two-thirds votes were politely termed "Compromises of the Constitution," and Gen. Washington's word "bargain" was entirely dropped and lost out of memory. They were afterward denounced by the Abolition leaders of New England as "a league with Hell and covenant with the Devil," though made by their own people.'

But between these so-called compromises of the Constitution, there was a vast difference, not perhaps appreciable on a casual view.

1 Since the war between the States, some secessionists also have denounced the men who made the Constitution, in that "they did not settle the question of secession then-because they left it an open question."

When a man builds a house for himself and his posterity, he puts the stones together with care, and cements them as strongly as possible; but no precaution he may take can prevent his descendants from pulling those stones apart and tearing down that house. Only their own good sense and judgment can be relied on to preserve it.

So with our Constitution. The men who made it were endeavoring to form a Union, and found great difficulty in doing it. On posterity depended the preservation of both Union and Constitution. But the idea of secession was distinctly rejected when one of the States (New York, I think) proposed that the right of secession be made a condition of her ratification of the Constitution, and Mr. Madison replied in the negative, saying that the ratification must be unconditional and final.Author.

That one which included the three-fifths representation of the slaves of the Southern States and the fugitive slave law involved no sacrifice of principle on either side. In demanding these measures, Virginia and the States who acted with her violated no principle of justice or humanity. The .negroes were already in the country, had been brought into it against their earnest and repeated protests. Now that they were here, justice and wisdom alike demanded proper measures for the protection of the white population of the South in their property and their political equality. Nor did the Northern majority in yielding these measures violate any principle. In granting to the Slave States a representation commensurate with their taxation, they acted in accordance with the same principle for which they had fought the Revolutionary war; and in enacting the fugitive slave law, they simply gave the assurance that they would protect their sister States in their right to a property which all the States had alike owned, which was recognized as property, and which only the circumstance of climate had transferred chiefly to the South-in other words, they gave an assurance that they would act honestly and fairly. In this there was no violation of principle.


In exchange for this assurance and for the three-fifths, representation, they desired Virginia to agree to the prohibition of slavery in the North-western Territory. did so—and in this there was no sacrifice of principle. Virginia had exactly the same right to agree to prohibition of slavery in her territory that Georgia had to make slavery perpetual in hers when she ceded it to the United States. She was also acting in accordance with the sentiments and principles which her greatest men had always maintained as regarding slavery to be a most dangerous element in the country. She may have felt it to be a compromise of her own interests, but she was willing to make that sacrifice for the sake of effect

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