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Effects of Slavery on America

Effects of Slavery on American History Andrew Avila US History 1301 Dr.Raley April 18, 2013 The U.S.

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Constitution is primarily based on compromise between larger and smaller states, and more importantly, between northern and southern states. One major issue of the northern and southern states throughout American history is the topic of slavery. Although agreements such as the Three-Fifths Compromise in 1787, and the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 were adapted to reduce and outlaw slavery, it took many years for slavery to be completely abolished and allow blacks the freedom they had been longing for.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was a agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia in which three-fifths of states’ slaves would be counted as representation regarding distribution of taxes and apportionment of members to the House of Representatives[1]. This meant that slave owners would be taxed on the number of slaves they owned as well as states receiving representation for the allotted 3/5, or “Federal ratio,” of slaves owned.

During the Continental Congress of 1783, a committee was appointed to decide upon a method to be integrated in the Articles of Confederation to prevent states from ignoring their fair share of the tax burden. The proposed fix was to tax based on population rather than property value. Delegates who opposed slavery only wanted to count all free inhabitants of each state, while supporters of slavery wanted to count all slaves for representation purposes only and not for taxation.

Being that southern states were heavily populated with slaves, naturally, northern states feared that the south would gain a political upper-hand and become extremely powerful[2]. Seeing such opposition from northern and southern states, representatives James Wilson and Roger Sherman came up with a plan that stemmed from the one proposed at the Continental Congress. The Three-Fifths Compromise, which was designed to meet the demands of both sides, gave the south their much anticipated representation, while easing the fears of the north of being politically overpowered by the south[3].

After the Virginia Plan was rejected, the Three-Fifths Compromise seemed to guarantee more political power to the south. As a result, southern states dominated the Presidency and Speakership of the House. While the south gained more representation because of the higher ownership of slaves, the north gained very little. However, the longterm results of the Three-Fifths Compromise did not work well to the southern states’ advantage[4]. The increased importation of slaves to the south upset the north leading to the Missouri Compromise.

The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the 36o 30’. By 1820, the northern states began to grow faster than southern states resulting in the fall from southern representation in the House of Representatives. The Three-Fifths Compromise paved the way for the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 which outlaws slavery. However, the Thirteenth Amendment was meant to guarantee slavery. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued an Emancipation Proclamation declaring that any people held as slaves would be free[5].

Many people questioned the validity of the Proclamation as well as President Lincoln’s power. Because President Lincoln failed to mention that slaves in the loyalist states would be free in the Proclamation, many doubted the effect would last beyond restoration of the states[6]. Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared that slaves would be free, it did not actually free any slaves in border states nor did it abolish slavery. President Lincoln and other supporters decided it was necessary to include an amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery.

The Thirteenth Amendment was the first amendment proposed in 60 years. The Thirteenth Amendment was the only slavery-related bill to oppose and abolish slavery while other bills protected slavery[7]. Eventually, the bill was taken to the Senate and passed on April 8, 1864. Although the bill was passed as an effort to keep the country united, it was stopped from being ratified as the south began to secede and the Union dissolved. This prevented the bill from becoming an actual law. President Lincoln took active measures to get the proposed bill on the Republican Party platform for the 1864 presidential election.

After several months of debate, the bill finally reached the two-thirds vote on January 31, 1865, although the signed amendment’s archival copy states the bill was passed February 1, 1865[8]. After the approval of the Thirteenth Amendment, Congress passed four statutes known as the Reconstruction Acts. The Reconstruction Congress was required to pass two laws that implemented the Thirteenth Amendment[9]. The first was the Civil Rights Act declaring that freed slaves were allowed to enjoy the same rights as white people. This law made it a crime on the federal level to deprived freed slaves of these rights.

The second was the Anti-Peonage Act of 1867 which made the holding of any person as a slave unlawful[10]. The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery in the United States. The process to abolish slavery began with President Lincoln’s issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Although the Thirteenth Amendment outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, officials had to selectively enforce laws such as vagrancy forcing blacks to be subject to involuntary servitude. The southern states’ attitudes towards abolition made it nearly impossible for blacks to shake being ex-slaves.

After the abolition of slavery, life for Black Americans got even more difficult before it could get better. Public beatings and lynchings became and everyday occurrence through “white supremacy groups” such as the Ku Klux Klan. Segregation between whites and blacks had become widespread at the time as well. Many blacks found it difficult to survive off the poor wages they received and terrible living situations. Slavery was not legal or illegal until each individual state made it so. Up until that point, slavery was an accepted common law practice.

However, after slavery was declared illegal in individual states and had been outlawed, many slave owners, and slaves alike, needed to adjust to the newly acquired changes. Needless to say, this was a change that would take many years to adapt to. To this day, these movements are still discussed as the judicial system . Many people still do not support the abolition of slavery. The United States Constitution states that slavery and involuntary servitude are illegal unless ordered by the court. However, this does not mean that any individual may own a slave.

This simply means that if a person is convicted of a crime, said person may be ordered to prison or community service. This however does not mean that there are absolutely no cases of slavery in America today. Although in slightly different form, slavery still exists today despite the trial and error endured by the American government to abolish slavery in its entirety. Slavery today is known as human trafficking. Not only does human trafficking include involuntary servitude and forced labor, but various other acts that are to be carried out by those who are being held as slaves.

Human trafficking is one of the biggest crimes committed today. Throughout history many measures have been taken to prohibit and outlaw slavery. However, documents such as the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Thirteenth Amendment were two of the major stepping stones in the direction of abolishing slavery. The issue of slavery has been around since the beginning of the United States and has undergone many changes over time. With agreements such as the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery was able to be decreased and eventually abolished.

Bibliography Peter Robinson. Uncommon Knowledge: A Slave to the System? Thomas Jefferson and Slavery. Hoover Institution, 2009. Garry Wills. “Negro President”: Jefferson and the Slave Power. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York, 2003. Herman Belz. Emancipation and Equal Rights: Politics and Constitutionalism in the Civil War Era. New York, 1978. Michael Vorenberg. Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment. Cambridge University Press, 2001. Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice.

The House Joint Resolution proposing the 13th amendment to the Constitution, January 31, 1865; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-1999; General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives Harp Weekly. Ratification and Results. 2008. Oman Nathan. Specific Performance and the Thirteenth Amendment. Minnesota Law Review, Forthcoming. 2008. Unknown Author. “The Slavery Compromises”. University of Louisiana-Lafayette Computing Support Services. Unknown Date. Gilder Lehrman Institute. The Three-Fifths Compromise. Digital History. 2013. ———————- [1] Gilder Lehrman Institute. The Three-Fifths Compromise. Digital History. 2013. [2] Peter Robinson. Uncommon Knowledge: A Slave to the System? Thomas Jefferson and Slavery. Hoover Institution, 2009. [3] Unknown Author. “The Slavery Compromises”. University of Louisiana-Lafayette Computing Support Services. Unknown Date [4] Peter Robinson. Uncommon Knowledge: A Slave to the System? Thomas Jefferson and Slavery. Hoover Institution, 2009. [5] Herman Belz. Emancipation and Equal Rights: Politics and Constitutionalism in the Civil War Era. New York, 1978. 6] Michael Vorenberg. Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment. Cambridge University Press, 2001. [7] 3Herman Belz. Emancipation and Equal Rights: Politics and Constitutionalism in the Civil War Era. New York, 1978. [8] 3Herman Belz. Emancipation and Equal Rights: Politics and Constitutionalism in the Civil War Era. New York, 1978. [9] Oman Nathan. Specific Performance and the Thirteenth Amendment. Minnesota Law Review, Forthcoming. 2008. [10] Oman Nathan. Specific Performance and the Thirteenth Amendment. Minnesota Law Review, Forthcoming. 2008.

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