To create it out of the discordant elements whose harmony was essential to success, was an herculean task, requiring the utmost forbearance, unselfishness, and wisdom. And of all the great questions, dividing the framers of that Constitution, perhaps none of them required a higher degree of self abnegation and patriotism than those touching human Slavery.
The situation was one of extreme delicacy. The necessity for a closer and stronger Union of all the States was apparently absolute, yet this very necessity seemed to place a whip in the hands of a few States, with which to coerce the greater number of States to do their bidding. It seemed that the majority must yield to a small minority on even vital questions, or lose everything.
Thus it was, that instead of an immediate interdiction of the African Slave Trade, Congress was empowered to prohibit it after the lapse of twenty years; that instead of the basis of Congressional Representation being the total population of each State, and that of direct taxation the total property of each State, a middle ground was conceded, which regarded the Slaves as both persons and property, and the basis both of Representation and of Direct Taxation was fixed as being the total Free population "plus three-fifths of all other persons" in each State; and that there was inserted in the Constitution a similar clause to that which we have seen was almost simultaneously incorporated in the Ordinance of '87, touching the reclamation and return to their owners of Fugitive Slaves from the Free States into which they may have escaped.
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