By Nathaniel Weyl
Ebook by means of Nathaniel Weyl, William Marina
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Additional info for American Statesmen on Slavery and the Negro
The task of justifying this again fell to the brilliant pen of Madison. Pretending to state the Southern pro-slavery position, Madison observed that ~laves are considered by the law in some respects, as persons, and in other respects as property. In being compelled to labor, not for himself, but for a master; in being vendible by one master to another master; and in being subject at all times to be restrained in his liberty and chastised in his body, by the capricious will of another-the slave may appear to be degraded from the human rank, and classed with those irrational animals which fall under the legal denomination of property.
James Madison justified the constitutional compromise on the African slave trade in a speech to the Virginia Convention on June 17, 1788. He observed that the representatives from South Carolina and Georgia had pointed out that they already had the right to bring in slaves from Africa and hence nothing new was being given them. Moreover, they had acquired land on the assumption that they could import African Negroes to cultivate it. "Great as the evil is," Madison observed, "a disc memberment of the union would be worse.
And if Negroes are not represented in the States to which they belong, why should they be represented in the Gen'l. " 3 The compromise plan was objectionable because it would stimulate the African slave trade by increasing the political power of those Southern States which continued to import Negroes. Gouverneur Morris was opposed both to slavery and to the creation of a democracy in which political power was based on mere numbers. As Madison reported his remarks, Morris could not persuade himself that numbers would be a just rule at any time.