Why the Founders failed to address the question of slavery - Essay Example

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The researcher of this essay will attempt to explain why the Founders failed to address the question of slavery in a definitive way. The purpose of this research is to investigate the following: three-fifth compromise; economic benefits; slavery referred in the constitution…
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Why the Founders failed to address the question of slavery
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According to the constitution of the America that was originally drafted, a slave was equivalent to three-fifth of a person; the relation was applied for ensuring proportional representation in the House of Representatives. The South States were slave-heavy states, and wanted that each of the slave to be counted as an equivalent for one full person, whereas the North States ‘ultimately abolitionist states’ also named ‘slave light states’ did not want to apply equivalent relationship between the slaves and independents. The slaves desired active representation and authority of House of Representatives, and in this manner they were able to achieve their interests in a more aggressive and enthusiastic manner. The Three-Fifth compromise between both the divisions actually reduced the influence of slave states in national government.
The Three-Fifth compromise between the northern and southern division was reached in 1787, during United States Constitutional Convention. According to the compromise accorded, slaves will receive three-fifth of enumeration i.e. tax distribution, and representation at government houses.
The major impact of the three-fifth draft was to change and shift the basis for estimating the wealth of each state, and the tax reforms were applied and introduced accordingly, i.e. real estate and population were measure of states’ wealth. The North desired that such amendments in the Articles of Confederation to be introduced, such that slaves were counted one, so that South was subject to more tax deduction, however later in the constitutional convention on the reason of representation, South desired more participation.
The slave holders of the Southern states would have been major beneficiary had the slave regarded equivalent to an individual because the slave would have been definitely subjected to vote under influence and force. The three-fifth compromise although reduced the influence and practice of slavery but did not completely ceased it, and supports the influence and spread of pro-slavery forces in U.S. government. ‘Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons’ (Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution).
The influence of the slavery holders lasted till the civil war. After the war, the slavery was abolished, with the inclusion of 13th Amendment into the constitution of the United State in 1865. In the coming years 14th amendment completely abrogated the results and interpretation of previous mentions of three-fifth compromise. ‘Representatives shall be apportioned, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed’, (Section 2, 14th Amendment). However the notion of slavery is still applied in the current constitution with reference to involuntary servitude. ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction’ (Section 1).
Apart from the three-fifth compromise, there were certain other clauses that supported slavery, ‘The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding $10 for each person’ (Article I, Section 9, Clause 1, of the original U.S. Constitution prohibited Congress from ending the slave trade before 1808), furthermore, ‘No Person held to Service or Labor in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due’ (Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, of the original U.S. Constitution contained the fugitive-slave clause).
1. Steffen W. Schmidt, Barbara A. Bardes, Mack C. Shelley., American Government and Politics Today: The Essentials
2. James Zachariah George, William Hayne Leavell., The Political History of Slavery in the United States.
3. Roger L. Ransom., Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation and the American Civil War Read More
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