Discuss the compromises that involved the issue of slavery and the extent to which the Constitution supported or disapproved of slavery.

Essay by irene50University, Bachelor'sA+, March 2005

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Several perspectives exist on the framing and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. One perspective is expressed by Donald Nieman's essay Slavery and the Constitution; it reflects on the issue of slavery and how economic interests of the Southern states and ideological interests of the North resulted in compromise for both sides. Although antislavery proponents existed on both sides, antislavery advocates were able to advance their cause most effectively in the North. The importance of blacks to the economy of the South hindered such support in that region. As much as some constitutional framers abhorred and condemned slavery, the Northerners did not push too hard on the issue of slavery. The need of strengthening and securing an infant government, were a more pressing concern than the rights of blacks. The resulting compromise resulted in the North agreeing that the national government would not interfere with the slave trade for 20 years.

According to Nieman, the compromises and language of the document allowed susceptibility to interpretation by both sides.

Understandably, slavery is an emotional issue, the repercussions of which many say have to this day negatively affected the social and economic standing of today's blacks. Not to be misidentified as an excuse for the suffering of so many, it is still important to reflect on the issues surrounding that time period. Blacks suffered a fate worst than any group, however, disenfranchisement, discrimination, destruction, and even death were not solely experienced by them. Equality and fairness, as defined today, was primarily reserved for rich white men. The constitutional framers were perhaps imbued with more foresight than given credit for, seeing that slavery was an institution without a future, that strife over the issue would likely occur in the near future, and what they needed was time to build strength in anticipation of...