Dark Bargain: Slavery, Profits, and the Struggle for the Constitution

Dark Bargain: Slavery, Profits, and the Struggle for the Constitution

Lawrence Goldstone

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0802715079

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Lawrence Goldstone throws new light on the framing of the U. S. Constitution in this intriguing chronicle of the Constitutional debates, bringing to life the remarkable range of personalities and rivalries that forged the foundation of our country. The Constitutional Convention of 1787 is generally viewed as dominated by the likes of Madison, Mason, Gouverneur Morris, and a few others; in fact, as Goldstone shows, relative unknowns like Rutledge, Ellsworth, and Sherman took over the debate and forged its eventual outcome. He also reveals how the debate over slavery was not split along North-South lines.

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trinkets around in the Ohio Company's name and meeting with tribal chiefs. The French, however, had no intention of sitting passively by and allowing a swarm of Englishmen to claim their territory. By 1753, Marquis Duquesne, the French commander in Quebec, had dispatched almost two thousand experienced soldiers to post claims to the land and establish a string of forts. (Pennsylvania, none too thrilled as well, confined itself to a series of diplomatic protests.) In November, Lieutenant Governor

. upon the principles of their wealth and number of inhabitants." Periodic reapportionment was every bit as vital to the slave states as having slaves counted in apportionment. Unless the delegates could be convinced to count slaves in full—an unlikely prospect at best—no other arrangement could prevent a northern majority in the legislature. The North simply had too many people and too many states. What kept the slaveholders in Philadelphia was the conviction that northern dominance would be

question at present is whether the Southn. States shall or shall not be parties to the Union. If the Northern States consult their interest, they will not oppose the increase of Slaves which will increase the commodities of which they will become the carriers." But could not tax, he might have added. For more than three months, the convention had more or less succeeded in avoiding the slave trade. Like a dead mouse in the walls, the delegates had usually pretended the subject did not exist,

slavery's biggest victory, in his view would accelerate Virginia's downfall since, while it provided a boon to southern legislative clout, it would also encourage the continued propagation of the slave population. On the final day of debate, Mason would make one final effort to restore a two-thirds majority for navigation acts, but was summarily voted down. He thereafter announced that he would not put his name to the document. Mason's warnings were irrelevant to northerners and brushed off by

several States, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part thereof, when the same shall have been ratified by three fourths at least of the Legislatures of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Legislature of the U.S." Hamilton seconded and it seemed that the motion would be quickly approved.8 Rutledge, however, quickly asserted that "he never

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