The Constitution and Slavery: Black History Month, Part 8

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Episode Description:
Many of the Framers of the Constitution were ashamed of slavery, and carefully avoided using the words "slave" or "slavery" in the document. Nevertheless, the Framers protected slavery in the Constitution in order to accommodate the Southern states, which threatened to refuse to join the Union.

Script for The Constitution and Slavery: Black History Month, Part 8

60-Second Civics, Episode 4250: February 8, 2021

The Constitution and Slavery: Black History Month, Part 8




Slavery was a point of contention at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, where delegates drafted the Constitution.


Southern states held more enslaved people than Northern states, where slavery was on its way to becoming abolished, and the South’s economy relied on slavery.


If the Constitution interfered with slavery, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia made it clear that they would not become part of the Union.


So, the Framers of the Constitution compromised.


For example, they added the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted three-fifths of enslaved people for purposes of representation, giving Southern states more representation in Congress, and therefore more power to pass laws.


They also added a fugitive slave clause, which required the return of enslaved people who had escaped.


In exchange for allowing Congress to regulate interstate commerce, the Constitution also provided that the national government would not interfere with the importation of enslaved people to the United States earlier than 1808.


The Framers did all of this without even once mentioning the words “slave” or “slavery” in the Constitution.


This has been 60-Second Civics, where civic education only takes a minute. 



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