Agreement Not To Allow Speaking On Slavery Issues

Governor Morris of Pennsylvania, who proved to be the strongest opponent of the Convention for Concessions to Slavery, argued that the countries of the North must “shed their blood” in times of emergency,23 because there are more free people in the North than in the South and because slavery makes the South an unreliable Almighty in wartime. On July 6, after the Convention seemed firmly in favor of the three-fifths rule, Charles Pinckney argued that “blacks should be on an equal footing with whites,” but he “w[oul]d. . . . Agree with the relationship established by Congs. 19 But it was not only the countries of the South that were unhappy with the compromise. On July 9, William Paterson of New Jersey sparked a four-day debate about slavery and representation when he complained about counting slaves for attribution representation. Paterson said he was worried After this compromise, another controversy erupted: what should be done against the slave trade, the importation of new slaves into the United States? Ten states had already banned it. Many delegates denounced it virulently. But the three states that allowed it – Georgia and the two Carolinas – threatened to leave the convention if trade was banned. A special commission worked out another compromise: Congress should have the power to ban the slave trade, but not before 1800. The Convention voted to extend the date until 1808.

The dispute over slavery began the next day, May 30. James Madison requested that the term “free residents” be removed from the Randolph Plan because he believed that the phrase “could trigger debates that would divert attention” “from the general question of whether to change the principle of representation” of states to the population. Madison understood that an early debate about the role of slavery in the Union could destroy the Convention before it began. But his proposal would have left representation exclusively on the basis of “contribution rates,” which was also unacceptable to most delegates. Madison herself agreed “to find a better rule.” Alexander Hamilton then proposed that representation be based exclusively on the number of “free inhabitants” in each state. This proposal was also too volatile and delegates quickly presented it. Other attempts at compromise failed before Congress was postponed.13 Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison thought the United States was American.