A Moral and Economic Compromise
Slavery was an issue that had been debated back and forth since the founding of our country. It was an issue that never lost its relevance, threatening to rear its ugly head whenever the chance arose. It divided our country on every major issue from representation to expansion. The south was an agricultural economy that depended on slaves for cheap labor. The north was an industrial economy that did not suffer the same reliance on slaves. The south saw every attack on slavery as an attack on their very livelihood. Every time the north tried to raise import taxes, the south cried foul. Slavery though, was much more complex than just an economic issue. It was also a vast moral issue. Slavery was the basis for some of the most controversial compromises in our history.
When our constitution was written, a compromise on slavery was written in.
Southern states wanted slaves counted as people for representation purposes even though they were treated as property in the eyes of the law. Delegates from other areas argued that if you are going to treat one kind of property special what stops other types of property from being used for the same purpose. They were able to reach a decision when the connection was made between the number of slaves counted and the amount which was to be paid in taxes. The southern delegates were then willing to compromise and only count three-fifths of the slaves for representation purposes and only pay taxes on three-fifths of the slaves.
The problem of expansion started out as a power-balancing act. To allow slavery to enter the territories or not was a long and bloody fight. Opponents who viewed slavery as a moral wrong saw a way to stop the growth...