By George William Van Cleve

ISBN-10: 0226846687

ISBN-13: 9780226846682

After its early creation into the English colonies in North the USA, slavery within the usa lasted as a criminal establishment till the passage of the 13th modification to the structure in 1865.  yet more and more throughout the contested politics of the early republic, abolitionists cried out that the structure itself was once a slaveowners’ rfile, produced to guard and additional their rights. A Slaveholders’ Union furthers this unsettling declare by way of demonstrating as soon as and for all that slavery used to be certainly a vital a part of the root of the nascent republic. during this strong ebook, George William Van Cleve demonstrates that the structure was once pro-slavery in its politics, its economics, and its legislations. He convincingly exhibits that the Constitutional provisions retaining slavery have been even more than mere “political” compromises—they have been indispensable to the rules of the recent kingdom. by means of the past due 1780s, a majority of american citizens desired to create a powerful federal republic that might be capable to increasing right into a continental empire. to ensure that the US to develop into an empire on any such scale, Van Cleve argues, the Southern states needed to be keen companions within the exercise, and the price of their allegiance used to be the planned long term security of slavery via America’s leaders in the course of the nation’s early enlargement. Reconsidering the function performed by means of the sluggish abolition of slavery within the North, Van Cleve additionally indicates that abolition there has been less revolutionary in its origins—and had less impression on slavery’s expansion—than formerly idea. Deftly interweaving historic and political analyses, A Slaveholders’ Union will most probably turn into the definitive clarification of slavery’s endurance and growth—and of its effect on American constitutional development—from the innovative battle during the Missouri Compromise of 1821.

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Extra resources for A Slaveholders' Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic

Example text

Opponents . . criticized Lee by suggesting that his motivation was to increase his own fortune by selling his slaves without having to worry about competition from slave traders. . The governor [Fauquier] 29 chapter one summarized the dispute . . as a “contest” between “the old settlers who have bred great quantities of slaves and who would make a monopoly of them by a duty which they hoped would amount to a prohibition” [and others]. ”62 British leaders at the time saw the effects of such curtailment quite differently.

The Crown’s two chief Law Officers, one of whom later rose to become Lord Chancellor of England, issued an opinion in 1729 that treated colonial slaves as property even when they were brought to England. Under that opinion, their owners could compel them to leave England and return to slavery. This effectively meant that slaves were “imperial” property, not just property under the law of individual colonies. 13 The goal of enforcing uniformity also led to one of Parliament’s very few substantive interventions in the law of slavery in a period of 250 years.

COLONIAL LEGAL AND POLITICAL C H A L L E N G E S T O S L AV E RY By the mid-eighteenth century, throughout the empire the law recognized an exception to the general rule that slaves were “rightless” persons: slaves could challenge the legal basis of their captivity, though only on narrow grounds. There were numerous court actions seeking freedom for individual slaves in the decades just before the Revolution, both in England and in the United States. As historian John Wood Sweet concludes, the changing character of these challenges over time provides evidence of increasing political strains on the institution of slavery.

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A Slaveholders' Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic by George William Van Cleve


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