Prior to the Civil War, the idea to allow slavery to expand unfettered into the territories had been around for decades. Similarly, the fugitive slave law was as old as the original Constitution. Yet, these demands for slavery's protection did not coalesce into a neatly ordered list of grievances until the
The Three-Fifths Clause of the Constitution states that population determined both "representatives and direct taxes". That number was "to be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons ... and three-fifths of all other Persons." While the document stopped just short of referring to these "other persons" as slaves,
In conversations about slavery in the United States, the question of “white slavery” is often raised. It is reasoned that if whites could also be slaves, then slavery wasn’t necessarily based upon race, but upon social status or some other factor. This understanding problematic as it attempts to redefine chattel slavery as it was understood in pre-Civil War America.
Maybe it’s a good idea to take a deeper look at what hereditary slavery was and whether white people were actually subject to such an institution.
In the years leading up to the Civil War, there was a small but vocal set of Southern Senators who desperately wanted to re-open the Atlantic Slave Trade. Though they were unsuccessful, this radical position allowed the political central to shift more toward the extreme, paving the way for secession.
By the mid-1850s, South Carolina led the call for both secession and re-opening the Atlantic Slave Trade. This article takes a look at Governor Adams’ message, as well as the state Congress’ reports upon that message. The majority of South Carolina congressmen agreed with the governor, stating that they regarded the African slave trade “as essential to the development of Southern resources, enterprise and power” as well as “a timely and propitious expansion of Southern civilization.” They concluded that “the undivided opinion of South Carolina is, that the importation of negroes from Africa, and their being made to cultivate our soil, under the equitable laws which control and protect our common interests, would violate no law of God nor any principle of justice.”