A feather quill is included in the photo. The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America and is the oldest codified written national constitution still in force. It was completed on September 17,
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A constitution is a formal statement of the central governing principles of a nation. The United States Constitution is considered the first modern constitution produced by the European Enlightenment and a model for virtually all subsequently written constitutions.
However, the Constitution was written by men who were deeply influenced by the racial ideology of the day and who were also committed to protecting the significant economic benefits that were provided by the enslavement of African people. The Framers And Their Times In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the American colonies were established and a new nation was beginning to develop, notions of white supremacy and the inherent inferiority of Africans were widely held.
The framers of the Constitution were no different in this respect from their fellow colonists. Several provisions had direct or indirect racial significance, however, insofar as they accommodated the institution of slavery. The Constitutional Convention in represented an effort to overcome the perceived shortcomings of the earlier Articles of Confederation and form a more viable union.
The primary impediment to this process was slavery. In his notes, James Madison described slavery as the principal source of division at the convention, eclipsing even the conflict between large and small states over political representation. The desire on the part of large states to replace the uniform representation of the Confederation Congress with proportional representation could not be resolved without considering the slavery issue.
Although the enslaved could not vote, Southerners viewed them as a kind of property that deserved protection in the allocation of government power.
Furthermore, the sparsely populated South was reluctant to join a governmental scheme that would leave them as the junior partner to the more populated North.
The interest in a more viable political and economic union was dispensable to some Southern delegates if it did not accommodate slavery. Opposition to slavery among Northern delegates melted when confronted with the intensity of this agenda. As Thurgood Marshall put it in a speech: Accommodations Of Slavery The new union was predicated on federal acquiescence in slavery and the reservation of self-determination for each state.
The document itself was drafted in terms that did not use the words slavery or Negroes or Africans, whether out of embarrassment or political expediency.
But the concerns of the slaveholding regions were addressed in various ways. Proportionate representation in the House of Representatives and factoring of direct taxes was based on a population count that recognized a slave as three-fifths of a person.
Congressional regulation of American participation in the international slave trade was prohibited until A fugitive slave clause was adopted as the basis for federal legislation that enabled slave owners to recapture runaway slaves without any legal process.
Other provisions in the Constitution accommodated slavery indirectly. Article I, Section 9, prohibiting federal taxes on exports, prevented an indirect tax on slavery through the taxation of exports produced by slaves.
Article I, Section 10, likewise prevented states from taxing exports or imports. The establishment of an electoral college incorporating the slave-state weighted scheme of proportional representation in Congress meant that Southern states had greater influence on the selection of a president than they would have had with direct popular elections.
The three-fourths majority requirement for amendments made it difficult to amend the constitution without the agreement of slaveholding states, and those provisions of the Constitution permitting the slave trade and requiring direct taxes on slaves at a reduced three-fifths rate could not be amended at all until It was a model of political resolution that continued through the first half of the nineteenth century, but with diminishing returns.
The Northwest Ordinance, which created the territories of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, explicitly prohibited slavery. Southern delegates also fostered the sense that slavery was a dying system. Congress in prohibited American participation in the international slave trade.
Territorial expansion and fugitive slave controversies ultimately undid original expectations that the union could accommodate slave and nonslave states. The creation of each new territory and admission of each new state generated increasingly acrimonious debate and sectional antagonism.
Among the most notable of these efforts was the Missouri Compromise, which in established a permanent geographical boundary between slave and nonslave states and territories. Adding to the volatile mix was the abolitionist movement, which emerged in the s and antagonized the South to the point that the movement was criminalized.
The Civil War By the s the failure to address slavery at the founding was bearing threatening consequences. Pennsylvaniathe Court invalidated a state enactment that prohibited a slave owner from capturing a fugitive slave without due process of law.By the time of the Constitutional Convention in , slavery in the United States was a widespread reality.
In the census of , there were slaves counted in almost every state with the exception of Massachusetts and the districts of Vermont and Maine/5(3). One thought on “ What if we struck racism and sexism from the Constitution of the United States, actually abolished slavery, and added 2 simple words articulating a value for life?
Add yours. Racism in the United States has been widespread since the colonial era. Legally or socially sanctioned privileges and rights were given to white Americans but denied to all other races. The United States Constitution on the other hand is a legal document that establishes a government upon the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
A government, outside of one based upon anarchy, establishes a set of laws that restrict freedom. The Constitution defers to the states to determine who shall be eligible to vote (Article I, Section 2, Clause 1).
It is a little known fact of American history that black citizens were voting. The United States Constitution on the other hand is a legal document that establishes a government upon the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
A government, outside of one based upon anarchy, establishes a set of laws that restrict freedom.