Abbildungen der Seite

ginia.] If we compare the States in this point of view, the eight Northern States have an interest different from the five Southern States; and have, in one branch of the Legislature, thirty-six votes, against twenty-nine, and in the other in the proportion of eight against five. The Southern States had therefore ground for their suspicions. The case of exports was not the same with that of imports. The latter were the same throughout the States; the former very different. As to tobacco, other nations do raise it, and are capable of raising it, as well as Virginia, &c. The impolicy of taxing that article had been demonstrated by the experiment of Virginia.

Mr. Clymer remarked, that every State might reason with regard to its particular productions in the same manner as the Southern States. The Middle States may apprehend an oppression of their wheat, flour, provisions, &c.; and with more reason, as these articles were exposed to a competition in foreign markets not incident to tobacco, rice, &c. They may apprehend also combinations against them, between the Eastern and Southern States, as much as the latter can apprehend them between the Eastern and middle. He moved, as a qualification of the power of taxing exports, that it should be restrained to regulations of trade, by inserting, after the word “duty,” Article 7, Section 4, the words, “ for the purpose of revenue.'

On the question on Mr. CLYMER's motion,

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, aye-3; New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no—8.

Mr. Madison, in order to require two-thirds of each House to tax exports, as a lesser evil than a total prohibition, moved to insert the words, “unless by consent of two-thirds of the Legislature.”

Mr. Wilson seconds; and on this question, it passed in the negative,

New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, aye—5; Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, (Colonel Mason, Mr. RANDOLPH, Mr. Blair, no; General WASHINGTON, Mr. Madison, aye) North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no—6.

On the question on Article 7, Section 4, as far as to “no tax shall be laid on exports,” it passed in the affirmative,

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, (General WASHINGTON and Mr. Madison, no) North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye—7; New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, no-4.323

Mr. L. Martin proposed to vary Article 7, Section 4, so as to allow a prohibition or tax on the importation of slaves. In the first place, as five slaves are to be counted as three freemen, in the apportionment of Representatives, such a clause would leave an encouragement to this traffic. In the second place, slaves weakened one part of the Union, which the other parts were bound to protect; the privilege of importing them was therefore unreasonable. And in the third place, it was inconsistent with the principles of the Revolution, and dishonourable to the American character, to have such a feature in the Constitution.

Mr. RUTLEDGE did not see how the importation of

slaves could be encouraged by this section. He was not apprehensive of insurrections, and would readily exempt the other States from the obligation to protect the Southern against them. Religion and humanity had nothing to do with this question. Interest alone is the governing principle with nations. The true question at present is, whether the Southern States shall or shall not be parties to the Union. If the Northern States consult their interest, they will not oppose the increase of slaves, which will increase the commodities of which they will become the carriers.

Mr. ELLSWORTH was for leaving the clause as it stands. Let every State import what it pleases. The morality or wisdom of slavery are considerations belonging to the States themselves. What enriches a part enriches the whole, and the States are the best judges of their particular interest. The old Confederation had not meddled with this point; and he did not see any greater necessity for bringing it within the policy of the new one.

Mr. PINCKNEY. South Carolina can never receive the plan if it prohibits the slave-trade. In every proposed extension of the powers of Congress, that State has expressly and watchfully excepted that of meddling with the importation of negroes. If the States be all left at liberty on this subject, South Carolina may perhaps, by degrees, do of herself what is wished, as Virginia and Maryland already have done.



In Convention, Article 7, Section 4, was resumed.

Mr. SHERMAN was for leaving the clause as it stands. He disapproved of the slave trade; yet as the States were now possessed of the right to import slaves, as the public good did not require it to be taken from them, and as it was expedient to have as few objections as possible to the proposed scheme of government, he thought it best to leave the matter as we find it. He observed that the abolition of slavery seemed to be going on in the United States, and that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees complete it. He urged on the Convention the necessity of despatching its business.

Col. MASON. This infernal traffic originated in the avarice of British merchants. The British Government constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it. The present question concerns not the importing States alone, but the whole Union. The evil of having slaves was experienced during the late war. Had slaves been treated as they might have been by the enemy, they would have proved dangerous instruments in their hands. But their folly dealt by the slaves as it did by the tories. He mentioned the dangerous insurrections of the slaves in Greece and Sicily; and the instructions given by Cromwell to the commissioners sent to Virginia, to arm the servants and slaves, in case other means of obtaining its submission should fail. Maryland and Virginia he said had already prohibited the importation of slaves expressly. North

Carolina had done the same in substance. All this would be in vain, if South Carolina and Georgia be at liberty to import. The Western people are already calling out for slaves for their new lands; and will fill that country with slaves, if they can be got through South Carolina and Georgia. Slavery discourages arts and manufactures. The poor despise labor when performed by slaves. They prevent the emigration of whites, who really enrich and strengthen a country. They produce the most pernicious effect on manners. Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of Heaven on a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities. He lamented that some of our Eastern brethren had, from a lust of gain, embarked in this nefarious traffic. As to the States being in possession of the right to import, this was the case with many other rights, now to be properly given up. He held it essential in every point of view, that the General Government should have power to prevent the increase of


Mr. ELLSWORTH, as he had never owned a slave, could not judge of the effects of slavery on character. He said, however, that if it was to be considered in a moral light, we ought to go further and free those already in the country. As slaves also multiply so fast in Virginia and Maryland that it is cheaper to raise than import them, whilst in the sickly rice swamps foreign supplies are necessary, if we go no further than is urged, we shall be unjust towards

« ZurückWeiter »