Lesson 5 Essay
Slavery and the Constitution
From the year 1780 through approximately 1815 many people in the United States were at war. While so many people were fighting for their independence the African Americans were fighting for their own freedom and independence from slavery, while being forced to fight for others freedom at the same time. Even the freed African Americans fought long and hard for their loved ones that had fallen victim to slavery. While so many people in the southern states and very few in the north were still for slavery many were hell bent against it.
Many people during this time thought that slavery should be abolished. However, just because these individuals thought slavery should be done away with does not mean that every one of them actually voiced their concerns and stood up for the slaves. For example, George Washington was a slave owner himself, but after fighting a huge battle for his own independence he soon began rethinking being a slave owner. Washington never voiced his opinion on slavery, but freed every one of his slaves in his will. Many people thought that slavery should be abolished because of the way that it violated the slave’s human rights and gave the so called masters total control and the ability to dictate. Phyllis Wheatley was one of the many people that fought for the enslaved African American. Phyllis was a writer who wrote and spoke about the injustice of slavery. James Otis was a white colonist that believed slavery was “a huge violation of the law of nature.” John Allen shares the same beliefs as Otis and did all that he could to let his voice be heard and free slaves.
Many people, especially those in the south, believed that slavery should continue. Slave owners in the south were all for slavery continuing because it was much cheaper than having to hire laborers to harvest their crops and fields. Many people in the north were supporters of slavery too, because they faced major profits.
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Slavery and The Constitution
Notes from the Constitutional Convention on the slave trade, August 21, 1787
Background. During the Constitutional Convention, James Madison took notes on what the participants said. This portion of his notes focuses on the debate about the slave trade.
Directions. Read the summary of Madison's notes. As you read, identify whether the speaker is for or against the slave trade.
Mr. Luther Martin (of Maryland). It was inconsistent (opposed; goes against) with the principles of the revolution and dishonorable to the American character to have such a feature (the slave trade) in the Constitution.
Mr. John Rutledge (of South Carolina). The true question at present is whether the Southern 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 (goods; products) of which they will become the carriers.
Mr. Oliver Ellsworth (of Connecticut). Let every state import what it pleases. The morality (worthiness) or wisdom of slavery are considerations belonging to the states themselves. The old Confederation had not meddled (interfered) with this point, and he did not see the (need) for bringing it within the policy of the new one.
Let us not intermeddle (interfere). As population increases, poor laborers will be so plenty as to render slaves useless. Slavery, in time, will not be a speck in our country.
Mr. Charles Pinckney (of South Carolina). South Carolina can never receive the plan if it prohibits the slave trade.
South Carolina and Georgia cannot do without slaves. As to Virginia, she will gain by stopping the importations. He admitted that it would be reasonable that slaves should be taxed like other imports; but should consider a rejection of the clause as an exclusion of South Carolina from the Union.
Mr. Roger Sherman (of Connecticut). He disapproved of the slave trade; yet as the states were now possessed of the right to import slaves, and as it was expedient (useful) to have as few objections as possible to the proposed government, he thought it best to leave the matter as we find it. He observed that the abolition (end) of slavery seemed to be going on in the United States.
Col. George Mason (of Virginia). This infernal (evil) slave trade originated in the avarice (greed) of British merchants. The present question concerns not the importing states alone, but the whole Union. Maryland and Virginia he said, had already prohibited the importation of slaves expressly. North Carolina had done the same in substance. All this would be in vain if South Carolina and Georgia be at liberty to import. The Western people are already calling for slaves for their new lands. (slavery) brings the judgment of Heaven on a country. He held it essential in every point of view, that the general government should have power to prevent the increase of slavery.
Look at the chart below and answer the following questions.
Article 1 - The Legislative Branch
Section 9 - Limits on Congress
The Migration (movement) or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited (stopped) by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
Writing a Thesis and Supporting it with Evidence
A thesis is the main argument of a piece of historical writing. It is what you want the reader of your paper to believe. To help make your thesis convincing, you will need to support your argument with evidence and analysis. Evidence and its analysis are the facts, examples, ideas and “proof” you use to back up your argument. In history evidence should largely come from the primary source documents you are studying.
A. Models of a thesis statement with a preview of evidence
1) Los Angeles is a good place to live because it has nice weather, lots of entertainment, and interesting people.
2) Los Angeles is a terrible place to live because it has far too many people, too much violent crime, and is too expensive.
What are you noticing about these two examples?
B. An example of a thesis relating to an historical topic
The Roman Empire declined due to barbarian invasions, corrupt leaders, and economic problems.
What do you notice about this example?
Respond to the following question by copying the text and filling in the blanks.
Should students study history in middle school?
Students __________________________ study history in middle school because ____________________________________, _________________________________, and ________________________________________________________.
Respond to the following question by writing a thesis statement with three supporting pieces of evidence.
Who was the most important person in American history?
What questions do you still have about thesis statements and evidence?
The Founders and the Slave Trade
Background: In 1787 twelve states sent delegates to Philadelphia for a Constitutional Convention. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention disagreed about many issues. One issue that they disagreed about was the slave trade. By reading the debates on the slave trade and Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution, you can see what the Founders thought and decided about the slave trade. Based on these two sources, answer the following question.
Prompt: Were the Founders for or against the slave trade?
Task: Write a paragraph in which you:
1. Write a clear thesis statement that addresses the question.
2. Provide at least three pieces of evidence from the documents to support your argument.
Suggested Vocabulary: (Use at least 5 of the words in your paragraph)
political or politics
Prostituting the Constitution
It has become fashionable to propose amendments to the constitution for all imaginable causes. Thus the nation's charter is endangered by a barrage of new and unworthy ideas offered up by opportunistic politicians seeking to exploit popular passions.
Indeed, constitutional reform seems to be the hot topic around Washington and in the writings of both liberal and conservative journalists across the country. No longer is it suitable for legislation to follow the normal means of entering into law - ratification by both House and Senate, pending the signature of the President. Rather, this new breed of constitutional reformers seeks to undermine this very process, not to mention the Constitution itself, with their volley of proposed amendments. Proponents of such congressional reform bitterly deny that the sanctity of the Constitution is ever tarnished in the midst of their attempts to update the Constitution to reflect pressing social issues. These proponents contend that the very proposals with which they seek to indelibly stain the Constitution are comparable to those other amendments added to the Constitution in its history. In other words, current policy issues merit equal attention with amendments such as those which eradicated the poll tax or secured suffrage for all Americans.
Whether or not there exists an equality between those problems plaguing contemporary society and those thought ageless in the eighteenth century is difficult to assess. Nonetheless, assuming that issues such as abortion, school prayer, flag burning, term limits, and the balanced budget deserve the attention that they have received in Washington, it remains to be argued convincingly that th.
. middle of paper.
. t say that the policies themselves proposed to become permanent fixtures in the Constitution are flawed. Rather, it is to say that such hysteria is merely empty symbolism, and a way to clutter the Constitution with dubious prose. For instance, there very well ought to be means to ensure that the government operates with a balanced budget, or that the rights of those who wish to pray in school are protected.
However, as of yet, it has not been demonstrated that these mere issues of domestic policy warrant inclusion in the nation's most sacred document. Politicians ought to return to the Constitution with heartfelt resolve, seeking from it inspiration and guidance. The Constitution ought never to become the prostitute of two-bit politicians across the nation who, in the dire moments of reelection, call upon its sacred name to secure their own futures.
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