Events leading to the
Slave Trade Compromise of 1787: The North and the South
The events leading to the Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise arose at the Constitutional
Congress (Philadelphia Congress) and related to the plans
submitted containing ideas for the powers and the structure of the United
States system of government.
Constitutional Convention was attended by delegates representing
of the thirteen first colonies. (Rhode Island declined to attend the
it was fearful of losing its states' rights). The views of the
delegates were totally diverse on the subject of slavery and unless
the conflicts between the slave states and the free states were
resolved the Conference would be destroyed. The
Three Fifths Compromise
was the first concession that was reached concerning slavery. The
second concession was the Slave Trade Compromise.
Slave Trade Compromise: The Southern Slave States
The free states of the North wanted Congress to have power to
regulate commerce. The Southern slave states were totally opposed to
this power because they feared Congress would use its authority over
tax and commerce to end to the slave trade by restricting or
outlawing the slave trade. They believed their agriculture based
economy would immediately crash without slaves.
Southern states were South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland,
Virginia and Georgia
approximately 90% of slaves lived in the South and accounted for
about 30% of the southern population
Slave Trade Compromise?
The Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise
was reached at the
Constitutional Convention by stating that:
Congress could not prohibit the slave trade
until 1808, but that any imported slaves could be taxed.
Slave Trade Compromise mean?
What did the Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise mean?
the continued "importation" of slaves
Congress to place a tax on imported slaves
continued to be technically classed as merchandise and it was
therefore within the power of Congress to tax slaves
Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise prohibited changes to
regulate the slave trade for two decades
compromise effectively protected the interests of slave owners
and the slave trade until 1808, giving the slave trade a 20 year
effect of the Slave Trade Compromise was that for the next twenty
years the number of imported slaves increased significantly from the
previous years. It encouraged the systematic breeding of slaves to
avoid incurring the cost of purchase and tax and it allowed the
continuance of slave auctions throughout the south.
Who proposed the Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise?
The first ideas for a compromise on the issue of Commerce and the
Slave Trade was made by the Committee of Detail which was
chaired by John Rutledge of South Carolina. Their compromise was
rejected and the issue was referred to the Committee of Eleven
that was chaired by William Livingston of New Jersey. Their
compromise was accepted to prevent the ruin of the Congressional
Slave Trade Compromise:
Which delegates were
The delegates to the
Constitutional Convention who were slave owners had a vested
interest in slavery as slaves played a significant role in their
livelihoods. Twelve delegates owned, or managed, plantations or
large farms that were operated using slaves. The names of the slave
owning delegates were Bassett, Blair, Blount, Butler, Carroll,
Jenifer, Mason, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney,
Rutledge, Spaight, and Washington. James Madison also owned slaves
at this time, although like many owners he did not agree with the
concept and practice of slavery.
The Slave Trade Compromise:
The Constitution and
The references to Slave Trade Compromise in the Constitution are as
follows. The words "slave" or "slavery" do not exist in the United
States Constitution, it is implied in the phrase "all other
Persons". During the Constitutional Convention James
Madison argued that it was "wrong to admit in the Constitution the
idea that there could be property in men." and later explained in
Federalist Papers that a slave should be regarded "as a moral
person, not as a mere article of property."
Trade Compromise is included in
Article 1, Section 9,
Clause 1 of the United States Constitution and elates to
Congress not interfering with early laws relating to slavery
compromise is also detailed in
Article 5 which
allowed the slave trade to continue
of Article I designated "other persons" (slaves) to be added to
the total of the state's free population, at the rate of
three-fifths of their total number
13th Amendment abolished
slavery following the
American Civil war (1861-1865)
Significance and Importance of the Slave Trade Compromise
The importance of the Slave Trade Compromise cannot be underestimated.
The issues of apportionment, representation and slavery threatened to destroy the
convention. The Significance of the
Slave Trade Compromise was that:
Slave Trade Compromise ensured the continuance of the
Slave Trade Compromise was the first independent restraint
on congressional powers
was included in the United States Constitution
Slave Trade Compromise was one of the
Causes of the Civil War between the North and the South
The other major concession
made at the Constitutional Convention was the
related to the subject of representation.
Slave Trade Compromise: Fugitive Slave Law and the Slave
Two important acts were passed during the presidency
relating to slaves. The first law was the
Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was signed on August 7,
1789 and included the Fugitive Slave Law as a concession
to the South, to ensure runaway slaves would be returned
to their owners if caught in the northwest. The second
law was the Slave Trade Act of 1794 that limited the
importation of slaves to the United States.
President George Washington Video
The article on the
Slave Trade Compromise provides the definition and history of one of the major
achievements of his presidential term in office. The following video will
give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 1st
American President whose presidency spanned from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797.