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    HIST 1151 American History to 1877 MORE Primary Source Readings: Unit 2 Revolutionary Society

    HIST 1151 American History to 1877 MORE Primary Source Readings: Unit 2 Revolutionary Society


    A collection of primary source readings for American History to 1877.

    The Sentiments of an American Woman

    This is a second set of primary sources by Jennifer Nardone to use in addition to, or instead of, the primary source set by Christianna Hurford.

    The primary source readings in this course align with CSCC's version of The American Yawp, Volume 1, which is derived from the The American Yawp open textbook by Stanford University Press.  While the original The American Yawp is accompanied by its own primary source reader called The American Yawp Reader, the selection of primary sources you will find in this course differ somewhat in that some of the text excerpts are from the same sources but might feature a different selection from the text. Some of the primary sources in this course are in addition to those found in The American Yawp Reader. 

    Microsoft Word and PDF downloads of these readings are available.

    To take this course for credit, register at Columbus State Community College.

    This work, except where otherwise indicated, by Jennifer Nardone at Columbus State Community College is licensed CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0.

    The Sentiments of an American Woman

    Esther De Berdt Reed


    Esther De Berdt Reed served as First Lady of Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. Reed organized the Ladies’ Association in Philadelphia to aid in the war effort. Reed and other women knocked on doors, campaigned with words, and held public events, raising $300,000 for the Continental Army. At the request of George Washington, The Ladies’ Association also sewed thousands of pieces of clothing for the American Army. Reed published The Sentiments of an American Women in 1780, not just to inspire other women to join the cause, but also publicly acknowledge the important role women already played in the war effort. Reed’s words were so effective that women in cities across the colonies took to raising money as well. Reed died suddenly of a fever shortly after her broadside was published. She was 34 when she died.[1]



    On the commencement of actual war, the Women of America manifested a firm resolution to contribute as much as could depend on them to the deliverance of their country. Animated

    by the purest patriotism, they are sensible of sorrow at this day in not offering more than barren wishes for the success of so glorious a Revolution. They aspire to render themselves more really useful, and this sentiment is universal from the north to the south of the Thirteen United States.


    Our ambition is kindled by the fame of those heroines of antiquity, who have rendered their sex illustrious and have proved to the universe that if the weakness of our Constitution, if opinion and manners did not forbid us to march to glory by the same paths as the Men, we should at least equal and sometimes surpass them in our love for the public good. I glory in all that which my sex has done great and commendable.


    I call to mind with enthusiasm and with admiration all those acts of courage, of constancy and patriotism, which history has transmitted to us the people favored by Heaven, preserved from destruction by the virtues, the zeal and the resolution of Deborah, of Judith, of Esther![2] The fortitude of the mother of the Maccabees in giving up her sons to die before her eyes; Rome saved from the fury of a victorious enemy by the efforts of Volumnia[3] and other Roman Ladies: So many famous sieges where the Women have been seen forgetting the weakness of their sex, building new walls, digging trenches with their feeble hands, furnishing arms to their defenders, they themselves darting the missile weapons on the enemy, resigning the ornaments of their apparel and their fortune to fill the public treasury, and to hasten the deliverance of their country, burying themselves under its ruins, throwing themselves into the flames rather than submit to the disgrace of humiliation before a proud enemy.


    Born for liberty, disclaiming to bear the irons of a tyrannic Government, we associate ourselves to the grandeur of those Sovereigns, cherished and revered, who have held with so much splendor the scepter of the greatest States [nations] the Batildas, the Elizabeths, the Maries, the Catharines, who have extended the empire of liberty and contented to reign by sweetness and justice, have broken the chains of slavery forged by tyrants in the times of ignorance and barbarity.[4] The Spanish Women, do they not make at this moment the most patriotic sacrifices to increase the means of victory in the hands of their Sovereign.[5] He is a friend to the French Nation. They are our allies. We call to mind, doubly interested, that it was a French maid[6] who kindled up amongst her fellow-citizens the flame of patriotism buried  under long misfortunes: It was the Maid of Orleans who drove from the kingdom of France the ancestors of those same British whose odious yoke we have just shaken off, and whom it is necessary that we drive from this Continent.


    But I must limit myself to the recollection of this small number of achievements. Who knows if persons disposed to censure, and sometimes too severely with regard to us, may not disapprove our appearing acquainted even with the actions of which our sex boasts? We are at least certain that he cannot be a good citizen who will not applaud our efforts for the relief of the armies which defend our lives, our possessions, our liberty? The situation of our soldiery has been represented to me the evils inseparable from war, and the firm and generous spirit which has enabled them to support these. But it has been said that they may apprehend that, in the course of a long war, the view of their distresses may be lost and their services be forgotten. Forgotten! never. I can answer in the name of all my sex. Brave Americans, your disinterestedness, your courage, and your constancy will always be dear to America as long as she shall preserve her virtue.[7]


     We know that at a distance from the theatre of war, if we enjoy any tranquility, it is the fruit of your watchings, your labors, your dangers. If I live happy in the midst of my family, if my husband cultivates his field and reaps his harvest in peace, if surrounded with my children I myself nourish the youngest and press it to my bosom without being afraid of seeing myself separated from it by a ferocious enemy, if the house in which we dwell, if our barns, our orchards are safe at the present time from the hands of those incendiaries, it is to you that we owe it. And shall we hesitate to evidence to you our gratitude? Shall we hesitate to wear a clothing more simple, hair dressed less elegant, while at the price of this small privation we shall deserve your benedictions. Who amongst us will not renounce with the highest pleasure those vain ornaments when she shall consider that the valiant defenders of America will be able to draw some advantage from the money which she may have laid out in these, that they will be better defended from the rigors of the seasons, that after their painful toils they will receive some extraordinary and unexpected relief, that these presents will perhaps be valued by them at a greater price when they will have it in their power to say: This is the offering of the Ladies.[8]


    The time is arrived to display the same sentiments which animated us at the beginning of the Revolution when we renounced the use of teas, however agreeable to our taste, rather than receive them from our persecutors, when we made it appear to them that we placed former necessaries in the rank of superfluities, when our liberty was interested, when our republican and laborious hands spun the flax, prepared the linen intended for the use of our soldiers, when exiles and fugitives we supported with courage all the evils which are the concomitants of war. Let us not lose a moment; let us be engaged to offer the homage of our gratitude at the altar of military valor, and you, our brave deliverers, while mercenary slaves combat to cause you to share with them the irons with which they are loaded, receive with a free hand our offering, the purest which can be presented to your virtue,




    I D E A S, relative to the manner of forwarding to the

    American Soldiers the Presents of the American Women:


    All the plans are eligible when doing good is the object; there is however one more preferable, and when the operation is extensive, we cannot give it too much uniformity. On the other side, the wants of our army do not permit the slowness of an ordinary path. It is not in one month nor in eight days that we would relieve our soldiery. It is immediately, and our impatience does not permit us to proceed by the long circuitry of collectors, receivers and treasurers.


    As my idea with regard to this have been approved by some Ladies of my friends, I will explain them here. Every other person will not be less at liberty to prepare and to adopt a different plan.


     1st. All Woman and Girls will be received without exception to present their patriotic offering; and, as it is absolutely voluntary, every one will regulate it according to her ability and her disposition. The shilling offered by the Widow or the young Girl will be received as well as the most considerable sums presented by the Women who have the happiness to join to their patriotism greater means to be useful…


     2d. A Lady chosen by the others in each county shall be the Treasuress; and to render her task more simple and more easy, she will not receive but determinate sums, in a round number, from twenty hard dollars to any greater sum. The exchange forty dollars in paper for one dollar in specie. It is hoped that there will not be one Woman who will not with pleasure charge herself with the embarrassment which will attend so honorable an operation[9]


    3d. The Women who shall not be in a condition to send twenty dollars in specie, or above, will join in as great a number as will be necessary to make this or any greater sum, and one amongst them will carry it or cause it to be sent to the Treasuress[10]


    4th. The Treasuress of the county will receive the money and will keep a register, writing the sums in her book, and causing it to be signed at the side of the whole by the person who has presented it.


    5th. When several Women shall join together to make a total sum of twenty dollars or more, she amongst them who shall have the charge to carry it to the Treasuress will make mention of all their names on the register, if her associates shall have so directed her; those whose choice it shall be will have the liberty to remain unknown.[11]


    6th. As soon as the Treasuress of the county shall judge that the sums which she shall have received deserve to be sent to their destination, she will cause them to be presented with the lifts[12] to the wife of the Governor or President of the State, who will be the Treasuress-General of the State; and she will cause it to be set down in her register and have it sent to Mistress Washington. If the Governor or President are unmarried, all will address themselves to the wife of the Vice-President, if there is one, or of the Chief-Justice, &c.


     7th. Women settled in the distant parts of the country [state] and not choosing for any particular reason as for the sake of greater expedition, to remit their Capital to the Treasuress, may send it directly to the wife of the Governor or President, &c. or to Mistress Washington[13], who, if she shall judge necessary, will in a short answer to the sender acquaint her with the reception of it. 


    8th. As Mrs. Washington may be absent from the camp when the greater part of the banks shall be sent there, the American Women considering that General Washington is the Father and Friend of the Soldiery, that he is himself the first Soldier of the Republic, and that their offering will be received at its destination as soon as it shall have come to his hands, they will pray [request of] him to take the charge of receiving it in the absence of Mrs. Washington…


    9th. General Washington will dispose of this fund in the manner that he shall judge most advantageous to the Soldiery. The American Women desire only that it may not be considered as to be employed to procure to the army the objects of subsistence, arms, or clothing which are due to them by the Continent. It is an extraordinary bounty intended to render the condition of the Soldier more pleasant and not to hold place of the things which they ought to receive from the Congress or from the States[14].


    10th. If the General judges necessary, he will publish at the end of a certain time an amount of that which shall have been received from each particular State.


    11th. The Women who shall send their offerings will have in their choice to conceal or to give their names, and if it shall be thought proper on a fit occasion to publish one day the lifts, they only, who shall consent, shall be named, when with regard to the sums sent there will be no mention made if they so desire it.______________


    [1] Full source from the National Humanities Council American Class collection.

    [2] Women of the Old Testament.

    [3] Volumnia is a character from one of William Shakespeare’s lesser known tragedies, Coriolanus, based on the life of the Roman general by the same name. In the play, Volumnia encourages her son Coriolanus, to wage war against a nearby city-state.

    [4] Women monarchs: Bathilda of the Franks (German), Elizabeth I of England, Marie Antoinette of France, Catharine the Great of Russia.

    [5] As Spain was allied with France, the major U.S. ally, a group of “Havana Ladies” in Cuba donated jewelry to support the Continental Army. Cuba was a Spanish colony in 1781.

    [6] Joan of Arc.

    [7] What does Reed say to men who disapprove of women’s involvement in the War?

    [8] What movement is Reed referencing here? What is “the offering of the Ladies?”

    [9] Specie refers to actual gold, silver, and other hard currency. During the colonial era, paper currency (“dollars”) was more like an IOU, which was then exchanged for specie. Reed expects women will collect “dollars” to exchange for hard specie. The “Treasuress” will then send the specie directly to the Army.

    [10] If a woman doesn’t have twenty dollars of her own, she will raise at least that amount from donations before sending the money to the Treasuress for exchange in specie.

    [11] All the women will be recognized by name for their efforts.

    [12] In Old English, “lifts” refers to money raised or collected.

    [13] Martha Washington, wife of George Washington.

    [14] Reed initially wanted to send the specie directly to the soldiers as a bonus of sorts. She states explicitly that “American Women” do not want the money to be used for essentials, which should be provided by the Army and Congress. Concerned the soldiers would spend the specie on alcohol and other vices, General Washington asked Reed and the Ladies’ Association to use the money to purchase linen and make clothing for the soldiers.

    Image: Esther de Berdt Reed by Chalres Peale

    Constitutional Debates on Slavery, 1787

    Constitutional Debates on Slavery, 1787


    By 1786, it was clear to most Americans that the Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1777, needed serious revision. The Articles left Congress without the power to regulate the economy, impose federal law, or effectively regulate trade. Considering the sizable war debts of the states as well as the federal government, it was imperative that the country establish a strong central government with the power to tax, declare war, enforce law, and negotiate with foreign powers. The Constitutional Convention started in May, 1787 and went on throughout the summer. Of the 55 delegates from 12 states (Rhode Island did not send any delegates), 25 owned slave and several others (including Benjamin Franklin) were former slave owners. The delegates waited until late August to address the issue of the slave trade and slavery itself, knowing it would be a contentious debate. They were not wrong. The ensuing debate considered 2 key issues: 1) should the United States continue to import enslaved people from Africa and the Caribbean? If so, should the federal government tax and regulate the trade? 2) Should the federal government protect slavery as another economic institution (like manufacturing and farming)?


    Not all of the southern delegates felt the same about the issue of the slave trade and slavery. The delegates from Virginia and Maryland argued against the slave trade, and even criticized the continuation of slavery itself. The delegates from South Carolina and Georgia felt differently. Ultimately, the men who argued against maintaining slavery and the slave trade in the new country capitulated to the slave owners, and the Constitution protected both institutions.


    James Madison, a delegate from Virginia, served as the Secretary (chief recording officer) of the convention debates. Five weeks before the explosive debate over slavery, Madison recorded his own comments to the conventions: "It seems now to be pretty well understood that the real difference of interests lies not between the large and small but between the northern and southern states. The institution of slavery and its consequences form the line of discrimination." Excerpted from Madison’s notes, August 21 and 22, 1787.[1]




    Tuesday, August 21


    MR. MARTIN[2], proposed to vary the Sect: 4. art VII. so as to allow a prohibition or tax on the importation of slaves. l. as five slaves are to be counted as 3 free men in the apportionment of Representatives; such a clause would leave an encouragement to this traffic. 2. slaves weakened one part of the Union which the other parts were bound to protect: the privilege of importing them was therefore unreasonable. 3. it was inconsistent with the principles of the revolution and dishonorable to the American character to have such a feature in the Constitution.


    MR. RUTLIDGE[3] 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 & 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. ELSWORTH[4] 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. PINKNEY[5]. South Carolina can never receive the plan if it prohibits the slave trade. In every proposed extension of the powers of the Congress, that State has expressly & watchfully accepted that of meddling with the importation of negroes. If the States be all left at liberty on this subject, S. Carolina may perhaps by degrees do of herself what is wished, as Virginia & Maryland have already done.



    Wednesday, August 22

    (In Convention, Article 7, Section 4, was resumed)


    MR. SHERMAN[6] 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.[7] He urged on the Convention the necessity of dispatching its business.


    COLONEL MASON[8]. The 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[9]. 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[10]. 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[11] 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 slavery.


    MR. ELSWORTH 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 South Carolina and Georgia.[12] Let us not intermeddle. As population increases, poor laborers will be so plenty as to render slaves useless. Slavery in time, will not be a speck in our country. Provision is already made in Connecticut for abolishing it. And the abolition has already taken place in Massachusetts. As to the danger of insurrections from foreign influence, that will become a motive to kind treatment of the slaves.


    MR. PICKNEY. If slavery be wrong, it is justified by the example of all the world. He cited the case of Greece, Rome, and other ancient states; the sanction given by France, England, Holland, and other modern states. In all ages one half of mankind have been slaves. If the Southern States were let alone, they will probably of themselves stop importations. He would himself, as a citizen of South Carolina, vote for it. An attempt to take away the right, as proposed, will produce serious objections to the Constitution, which he wished to see adopted.


    GENERAL PICKNEY[13] declared it to be his firm opinion, that if himself and all his colleagues were to sign the Constitution, and use their personal influence, it would be of no avail towards obtaining the assent of their constituents. South Carolina and Georgia cannot do without slaves. As to Virginia, she will gain by stopping the importations. Her slaves will rise in value, and she has more than she wants. It would be unequal, to require South Carolina and Georgia to confederate on such unequal terms. He contended, that the importation of slaves would be for the interest of the whole Union. The more slaves, the more produce to employ the carrying trade; the more consumption also; and the more of this, the more revenue for the common treasury. He admitted it to be reasonable that slaves should be dutied like other imports; but should consider a rejection of the clause as an exclusion of South Carolina from the Union.


    MR. BALDWIN[14] had conceived national objects alone to be before the Convention; not such as, like the present, were of a local nature. Georgia was decided on this point. That State has always hitherto supposed a General Government to be the pursuit of the central States, who wished to have a vortex for everything; that her distance would preclude her from equal advantage; and that she could not prudently purchase it by yielding national powers.[15] From this it might be understood, in what light she would view an attempt to abridge one of her favorite prerogatives. If left to herself, she may probably put a stop to the evil. As one ground for this conjecture, he took notice of the sect of -; which he said was a respectable class of people, who carried their ethics beyond the mere equality of men, extending their humanity to the claims of the whole animal creation.


    MR. WILSON[16] observed, that if South Carolina and Georgia were themselves disposed to get rid of the importation of slaves in a short time, as had been suggested, they would never refuse to unite because the importation might be prohibited. As the section now stands, all articles imported are to be taxed. Slaves alone are exempt. This is in fact a bounty on that article.


    MR. GERRY[17] thought we had nothing to do with the conduct of the States as to slaves, but ought to be careful not to give any sanction to it.


    MR. DICKINSON[18] considered it as inadmissible, on every principle of honor and safety, that the importation of slaves should be authorized to the States by the Constitution. The true question was, whether the national happiness would be promoted or impeded by the importation; and this question ought to be left to the National Government, not to the States particularly interested. If England and France permit slavery, slaves are, at the same time, excluded from both those kingdoms[19]. Greece and Rome were made unhappy by their slaves. He could not believe that the Southern States would refuse to confederate on the account apprehended; especially as the power was not likely to be immediately exercised by the General Government.


    MR. WILLIAMSON[20] stated the law of North Carolina on the subject, to wit, that it did not directly prohibit the importation of slaves. It imposed a duty of £5[21] on each slave imported from Africa; £10 on each from elsewhere; and £50 on each from a State licensing manumission. He thought the Southern States could not be members of the Union, if the clause should be rejected; and that it was wrong to force anything down not absolutely necessary, and which any State must disagree to.


    MR. KING[22] thought the subject should be considered in a political light only. If two States will not agree to the Constitution, as stated on one side, he could affirm with equal belief on the other, that great and equal opposition would be experienced from the other States. He remarked on the exemption of slaves from duty, whilst every other import was subjected to it, as an inequality that could not fail to strike the commercial sagacity of the Northern and Middle States.


    MR. LANGDON[23] was strenuous for giving the power to the General Government. He could not, with a good conscience, leave it with the States, who could then go on with the traffic, without being restrained by the opinions here given, that they will themselves cease to import slaves.


    GENERAL PINCKNEY thought himself bound to declare candidly, that he did not think South Carolina would stop her importations of slaves in any short time; but only stop them occasionally, as she now does. He moved to commit the clause, that slaves might be made liable to an equal tax with other imports; which he thought right, and which would remove one difficulty that had been started.


    MR. RUTLEDGE If the Convention thinks that North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, will ever agree to the plan, unless their right to import slaves be untouched, the expectation is vain. The people of those States will never be such fools as to give up so important an interest. He was strenuous against striking out the section, and seconded the motion of General Pickney for a commitment.


    MR. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS[24] wished the whole subject to be committed, including the clauses relating to taxes on exports and to a navigation act. These things may form a bargain among the Northern and Southern States.


    MR. BUTLER[25] declared, that he never would agree to the power of taxing exports.


    MR. SHERMAN said it was better to let the Southern States import slaves than to part with them, if they made that a sine qua non[26]. He was opposed to a tax on slaves imported, as making the matter worse, because it implied they were property. He acknowledged that if the power of prohibiting the importation should be given to the General Government, it would be exercised. He thought it would be its duty to exercise the power.


    MR. READ[27] was for the commitment, provided the clause concerning taxes on exports should also be committed.


    MR. SHERMAN observed, that that clause had been agreed to, and therefore could not be committed.


    MR. RANDOLPH, was for committing, in order that some middle ground might, if possible, be found. He could never agree to the clause as it stands. He would sooner risk the Constitution[28]. He dwelt on the dilemma to which the Convention was exposed. By agreeing to the clause, it would revolt the Quakers, the Methodists, and many others in the States having no slaves. On the other hand, two States might be lost to the Union. Let us then, he said, try the chance of a commitment.[29]


    (The vote)

    On the question for committing the remaining part of Sections 4 and 5 of Article 7, -

    Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye, -7; New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, no, -3;

    Massachusetts, absent.


    MR. PICKNEY and MR. LANGDON moved to commit Section 6, as to a navigation act by two thirds of each House.


    MR. GORHAM[30] did not see the propriety of it. Is it meant to require a greater proportion of votes? He desired it to be remembered, that the Eastern States had no motive to union but a commercial one. They were able to protect themselves. They were not afraid of external danger, and did not need the aid of the Southern States.


    MR. WILSON[31] wished for a commitment, in order to reduce the proportion of votes required.


    MR. ELLSWORTH was for taking the plan as it is. This widening of opinions had a threatening aspect. If we do not agree on this middle and moderate ground, he was afraid we should lose two States, with such others as may be disposed to stand aloof; should fly into a variety of shapes and directions, and most probably into several confederations, - and not without bloodshed.


    MR. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS was for making the clause read at once, "importation of slaves into N. Carolina, S. Carolina & Georgia shall not be prohibited &c." This he said would be most fair and would avoid the ambiguity by which, under the power with regard to naturalization, the liberty reserved to the States might be defeated. He wished it to be known also that this part of the Constitution was a compliance with those States. If the change of language however should be objected to by the members from those States, he should not urge it.


    COLONEL MASON was not against using the term "slaves" but against naming N. Carolina, S. Carolina & Georgia, lest it should give offence to the people of those States.


    MR. SHERMAN liked a description better than the terms proposed, which had been declined by the old Congress & were not pleasing to some people. MR. CLYMER concurred with Mr. Sherman.


    MR. WILLIAMSON said that both in opinion & practice he was, against slavery; but thought it more in favor of humanity, from a view of all circumstances, to let in S. C. & Georgia on those terms, than to exclude them from the Union.


    MR. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS withdrew his motion.


    MR. DICKENSON wished the clause to be confined to the States which had not themselves prohibited the importation of slaves, and for that purpose moved to amend the clause so as to read "The importation of slaves into such of the States as shall permit the same shall not be prohibited by the Legislature of the U- S- until the year 1808"—which was disagreed to nem: cont[32]: The first part of the report was then agreed to, amended as follows: The migration or importation of such persons as the several States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Legislature prior to the year 1808.


    New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia - Ay (yes)

    New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia - No


    MR. BALDWIN in order to restrain & more explicitly define "the average duty" moved to strike out of the 24 part the words "average of the duties laid on imports" and insert "common impost on articles not enumerated" which was agreed to nem: cont[33]:


    MR. SHERMAN was against this 2nd part, as acknowledging men to be property, by taxing them as such under the character of slaves.


    MR. KING & MR. LANGDON considered this as the price of the 1st part.


    GENERAL PINKNEY admitted that it was so.


    COLONEL MASON. Not to tax, will be equivalent to a bounty on the importation of slaves.


    MR. GHORUM thought that Mr. Sherman should consider the duty, not as implying that slaves are property, but as a discouragement to the importation of them.


    MR. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS remarked that as the clause now stands it implies that the Legislature may tax freemen imported.


    MR. SHERMAN in answer to Mr. Ghorum observed that the smallness of the duty shewed revenue to be the object, not the discouragement of the importation.


    MR. MADISON[34] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men. The reason of duties did not hold, as slaves are not like merchandize, consumed, &c.


    COLONEL MASON (in answer to Gov. Morris) the provision as it stands was necessary for the case of Convicts in order to prevent the introduction of them.


    It was finally agreed nem: contrad[35]: to make the clause read "but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation not exceeding ten dollars for each person," and then the 2nd part as amended.



    [2] Luther Martin, delegate from New Jersey.

    [3] John Rutlidge, South Carolina.

    [4] Oliver Elsworth, Connecticut.

    [5] Charles Pickney, South Carolina

    [6] Roger Sherman, Connecticut.

    [7] Most northern states implemented a gradual emancipation plan, ending slavery with a set timeframe.

    [8] George Mason, Virginia.

    [9] What does Mason mean by “had slaves been treated as they might have been by the enemy, they would have proved dangerous instruments in their hands?”

    [10] This is a complicated reference. In short: In 1642, Oliver Cromwell led a Puritan uprising – with the support of Parliament - against the British King, Charles I. After a lengthy Civil War in England, Cromwell and the Parliamentarians, as they were called, assumed control of England, renaming the Empire the “British Commonwealth.” The political divisions in England rippled through the colonies; some colonial leadership supported the new Commonwealth, others supported the exiled monarchy (Charles I was beheaded in 1649, his son, Charles II, remained in exile until 1660). Most Virginians remained loyal to the monarchy, especially after Cromwell hinted at ending slavery in the colonies, which is what Mason alludes to here. (Cromwell declared Virginia part of the “Commonwealth” in effort to quell resistance, hence the “Commonwealth of Virginia” moniker). BTW, William Berkeley was governor of the Virginia colony during all of this. Berkeley strongly supported the restoration of Charles II to the throne (Berkeley was appointed Governor of Virginia by his father, Charles I) in 1660. His governorship ended with Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, which should be in your notes.

    [11] The West in 1787: Ohio Territory in the North, Mississippi/Alabama Territory in the South, both formerly part of New France. Remember that the Northwest Ordinances barred slavery in the Ohio Territory, but that didn’t stop people from moving to the territory with enslaved people and loudly demanding slavery be allowed anyway. BTW: MS/AL border the foreign country of New Spain. Spain controlled Louisiana, including New Orleans, second only to Charlestown, SC as the most lucrative slave port in North America. Slavery and the slave trade thrived on the other side of the Mississippi River, thus southern planters and slave traders wanted New Orleans. Even this early, expansion of slavery into the “West” was a contentious issue. Thomas Jefferson will secure New Orleans as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, 16 years after this Convention.

    [12] Virginia and Maryland were the oldest southern colonies/states, and as such, had enslaved families tracing back 50-100 years by 1787 (longer than many of the delegates American lineage). As a result, a “Domestic Slave Trade” developed, selling enslaved people from VA and MD to the frontier regions of Tennessee and Kentucky (and soon, Alabama and Mississippi). Rice planters in South Carolina and Georgia were more likely to work the enslaved people to death and then buy new ones. As a result, SC and GA did not develop a Domestic Slave Trade.

    [13] Charles Cotesworth Pickney, Charles Pickney’s father, also from South Carolina.

    [14] Abraham Baldwin, Georgia.

    [15] What is the Baldwin arguing here about the relationship of their state/colony to the “General (federal) Government?”

    [16] James Wilson, Pennsylvania.

    [17] Elbridge Gerry, Massachusetts.

    [18] John Dickinson, Delaware.

    The British and French Empires had slaves in their colonies, but neither England or France allowed slavery within its own country.

    [20] Hugh Williamson, North Carolina.

    [21] 5 pounds – English currency.

    [22] Rufus King, Massachusetts.

    [23] John Langdon, New Hampshire.

    [24] Gouverneur Morris, Pennsylvania.

    [25] Pierce Butler, South Carolina.

    [26] An essential condition. An absolute necessity.

    [27] George Read, Delaware.

    [28] Please reread this. Think about what Randolph is saying here about slavery in relation to the principles of the Constitution.

    [29] Serious argument. What is it?

    [30] Nathaniel Gorham, Massachusetts.

    [31] James Wilson, Pennsylvania.

    [32] Without dissent; unanimous.

    [33] Ibid (same citation as above).

    [34] James Madison, Virginia.

    [35] Ibid.