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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Our First Pro-Slavery Government

We have at length finished the Confederation and shall send it to the different States in a few days with strong exortation to give it quick consideration and speedy return.

 - Richard Henry Lee to Samuel Adams, November 15, 1777

Speedy return?  Not so much: didn't go into effect until March 1, 1781 (Maryland was the last to ratify about a week earlier).  Heck, it was first reported a week after the Declaration, so it took them 16 months just to agree to the final proposal.  Cut 'em slack, tho, because there was a little war on.

And as I've noted before, slavery figured pretty heavily in the debates.  The issue didn't go away after ratification, as the Confederation Congress tried vainly to amend the Articles, proposing a well-known "federal ratio" to count slaves for tax purposes.

The Framers in Philadelphia used the same math since it'd been approved by 11 of the states previously--NH and RI had rejected the amendment, so without unanimity it never was adopted, proving the Articles were pretty useless.  Why reinvent the wheel, especially when commerce was at stake, amirite?


November 15, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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