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Slavery's Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification
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Early American History > Could you see the Constitution as a compromise on slavery?

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Theodis | 15 comments Mod
This is the book I'm currently reading. It's an area of history that has truly peaked my interest as of late. The basic premise is that the Constitution of 1787 is actually a compromise on slavery - a slave document (my words). The argument thus far (about half way finished) centers on representation and taxation and the arguments that eventually led to three-fifths clause that was used in determining population, representation, and taxation.


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Scott | 26 comments that is very interesting. I have read several books that dealt heavily in the subject of slavery but they were all aimed more at the colonial era of New Orleans. The 3/5 was document was clearly a compromise. I can't even wrap my head around the irony that slave owners were arguing that slaves counted toward getting them more representation in congress so that they could protect the laws that allowed them to deny the rights of those same people. Makes my head spin. I know that local slaves were better off when the Spanish were in charge of Louisiana. Our founding fathers had a pretty limited view on "land of the free". Jefferson even wanted to support Napoleon in restoring slavery on St Dominque until he found out he also had eyes on Louisiana.


Theodis | 15 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "that is very interesting. I have read several books that dealt heavily in the subject of slavery but they were all aimed more at the colonial era of New Orleans. The 3/5 was document was clearly ..."

One other thing I found interesting (again, have way finished) was that there was a lot more anti-slavery sentiment amongst the framers than one might expect.


message 4: by Scott (last edited Apr 26, 2015 12:24PM) (new) - added it

Scott | 26 comments one of the authors I read recently (either Lawrence Powell or Ned Sublette) hypothesized that the abolitionist movement may have taken place sooner were it not for the fear generated by one of the revolts. I want to say the Point Coupe revolt but it seems more likely the one in Haiti. At any rate, you are right, the sentiment was already established and Europe was probably at least 50 years ahead of us on that. Maybe you can shed more light on that since this book deals more directly with it.


Luan | 16 comments This subject is extremely interesting and one I haven't considered too much, sadly. We sure didn't touch it in school, and I only briefly considered the conflict between the Constitution and the practice of holding slaves. I think I may delve into this book at some point.

I need to get out my library card and dust it off. Ebooks are about $10.00 and I rarely re read a book.


Luan | 16 comments Ok, finished this book this morning. It was a fascinating read which basically considers two different points of view about the subject of slavery and the Constitution. Given that there was a significant anti-slavery movement in the Colonies, did the framers of the Constitution have to do the artful dodge they accomplished on slavery? Should they have tackled the subject head on rather than dance around it? I don't think the book answers the question, but rather provides words from both the framers and their opponents of that time period.

This is really not my field, so I don't know how I feel about the question of whether the compromise on slavery was necessary. It would have been such a blessing to enter nationhood with slavery in the rear view mirror. Think of the loss of life avoided 100 years or so later, not to mention the horrors endured by generations of slaves during the next 100 years!

But the alternative is that the young United States may have split into at least two mini-nations, which certainly would have made the young nations vulnerable to take-over from older more established countries, and thwarted the budding democracy that was still so young.

I really liked the way the book showed the human side of the founders, they were certainly capable of talking out of both sides of their mouths on the subject of slavery. Depicting the Constitution as actually anti-slavery to prohibitionists and not mentioning anything of that sort to the Southern states. In other words, they were politicians, for sure. And I didn't realize that the Bill of Rights was more or less a result of the anti-federalist opposition, a significant part of which was the anti-slavery movement.

Great read! Thanks for indulging in my ramblings about it!


message 7: by Scott (last edited May 10, 2015 01:13PM) (new) - added it

Scott | 26 comments Luan wrote: "Think of the loss of life avoided 100 years or so later, not to mention the horrors endured by generations of slaves during the next 100 years! "

The New Orleans Historic Collection has what sounds like a great exhibit right now - Purchased Lives. It ends July 18 and I had already made up my mind that I would see it before then but yesterday on NPR one of the shows was going through the exhibit with the curator.

The era it is concerned with is after the international slave trade was outlawed. During that period a million people were forced to come from Virginia further south by foot. They would be in bad shape from all of the walking and most of the owners would put these slaves in the hospital for the sole purpose of restoring them to working health. They have Touro Infirmary's patient logs from that time and occupancy was as much as 45 percent slaves that were checked in by owners.

But the thing that struck me the most and speaks to the horrors you mention was the newspaper ads that they have. After emancipation NOLA was a prime spot for freed slaves to move to. All of the ads in the papers were for people all over the south looking for family and loved ones. What really hits you in the gut is when they said that these ads ran into the first decade of the 20th Century. So for 30 or 40 years people were searching for lost family. So much pain there.

I don’t know who among you actually live in or visit New Orleans frequently but this definitely sounds like a good thing to see. I will try to remember to post pics when I go. They have many items connected to Solomon Northup (12 years a slave)

http://www.hnoc.org/purchasedlives/


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Scott | 26 comments I am learning just how limited my knowledge of he Civil War is while reading Team of Rivals right now. My education is about 50/50 between Catholic School and Public School too so there is some blame to go around.

I don't know that my signature on SR is helping us lol. Do you think anyone can even tell that it is a link? Or maybe most people have sigs turned off. Dunno


Luan | 16 comments May be that people don't know it's a sig, Scott. Theo sent me a folder for that book you're reading right now, but the ePub file wasn't there. Could you be so kind as to send it? Haven't talked to Theo lately. After reading this book about the formation of the republic, I would like to know a bit more about the Civil War period.

I don't know how to get more people over here either.


message 10: by Scott (new) - added it

Scott | 26 comments you got it Luan. Check your inbox


Theodis | 15 comments Mod
Happy both of you are enjoying what I sent. I definitely think I'm going to go visit the exhibit at the HNOC. I haven't been there since I was doing some research on my master thesis.

I don't know what we could do to get more people over here. Some have a blind loyalty to SR to the point that they call for all of these sub-forums to keeps from going elsewhere. This is a great site to exchange ideas, but also share books and what you're reading, which is something SR can't do. I really like it.

Don't know how the epub wasn't included, Luan. I just forwarded Scott's email to you. Maybe a spam/anti-virus filter.


message 12: by Luan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luan | 16 comments No problem, Theo, Scott sent it to me.

I'm waiting to hear your impressions of this book, so when you finish be sure to post what you think.

I do like this site - and found that several FB people I know are already here. Appreciate the heads up about it, Theo.


Theodis | 15 comments Mod
Now that the semester is over at work, I should be able to finish up by the end of the week, especially considering there's a few books I want to jump into. My latest is... The Last Citadel: Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864-April 1865


message 14: by Scott (new) - added it

Scott | 26 comments I am hoping to find a good day to stay in the quarter for a while. They have another exhibit going on now to at their other building on Huey Long. Theo are you a teacher? Seems like some of your posts have indicated this parallels your professional line.


message 15: by Scott (last edited May 10, 2015 07:27PM) (new) - added it

Scott | 26 comments I am not going to worry too much about the people coming over. That part has been more frustration with lack of interest. Seems like so many or on the fringe of interest but not really wanting to dive in. If we build it they will come, or they would not be good contributions anyway.

I am loving this site. I am still learning new stuff. Since I found the compare ratings feature I went back and rated things with more care.


Theodis | 15 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "I am hoping to find a good day to stay in the quarter for a while. They have another exhibit going on now to at their other building on Huey Long. Theo are you a teacher? Seems like some of your..."

No, not a teacher. I'm in administration at a local institution.


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