In this episode of Constitutionally Speaking, Jay and Luke discuss the role that slavery played at the Constitutional Convention. The delegates, as they note, were never prepared to abolish slavery in 1787, in no small part because southern states dominated the proceedings, and the northern nationalists depended upon their support to radically revise the Articles of Confederation. Moreover, slavery in 1787 was not nearly the dominant institution it would become after the invention of the Cotton Gin transformed the economics of the South.

At this point, many southerners were frankly embarrassed by it, and George Mason of Virginia denounces it in uncompromising terms at the Convention. The real battle over slavery occurs not over the infamous 3/5ths clause, but in debates over the transatlantic slave trade, at which point delegates like Rufus King and Gouverneur Morris denounce slavery in ways that anticipate the abolitionist movement that was still decades away.

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There are 3 comments.

  1. Coolidge

    That was very interesting. I am beginning to get a much better feel for the kind of people the Founders were. Flawed but good men. I am still amazed that so many good men were brought together at a time of such primitive communication and transportation. Wish we could do it today!

    • #1
    • December 11, 2017 at 12:13 pm
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  2. Coolidge

    The 3/5ths rule reminds me of the old British rotten Boroughs. Well heeled interests are overrepresented in the legislature.

    • #2
    • December 14, 2017 at 9:03 pm
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  3. Moderator

    This was the first episode I have listened to from this series. That was really informative. Thank you.

    • #3
    • December 16, 2017 at 8:38 am
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