American Government

(Part 2)


This paragraph was taken out of the Declaration before it was submitted to congress. According to the and it’s report on slavery history England ended its slave trade in 1771 after a slave was brought from Virginia to England and refused to work for his master. This created a case in which the chief justice decided slavery was not legal. Its strange to think that England ended their slave trade before America. Especially after the fact that people like Jefferson were so opposed to King James’ tyrannical ideas. It makes you wonder what happened to the morals of Americans as time went on.


The northern states abolished slavery totally or created a plan to gradually end it. In the south thousands of slaves gained freedom from escaping from their masters. An estimated 30,000 slaves gained freedom from fleeing their masters in the south during this hectic time. Slavery was such a huge issue that delegates of South Carolina refused to any form of the constitution if the proposed plan prohibited slavery. There was also the issue of counting slaves in a census. With some states having over 100,000 slaves this would greatly impact voting based on populations. With the mindset of slaves still not being real people there was a problem with counting them all as 1 person each. That’s where the 3/5ths compromise came into play. According to James Wilson proposed that slaves be counted as 3/5ths of a person. These unsure times led to the acts of interposition and nullification. Interposition is where states declare federal laws or actions as unconstitutional. Nullification is where states can nullify actions or laws instated by the federal government that they feel are unconstitutional. While Nullification and interposition seem similar the main difference is that nullification is usually one state acting on its own while interposition is usually a group of states joined together against the unjust or unconstitutional acts being done by the federal powers.

One also wonders why the framers of the constitution approved a 20 year extension of slave importation. In a passage from it explains why “As for the slave trade, for quite some time in the Convention, it was debated hotly. The states of the Deep South wanted it maintained; the North and the middle south were opposed.


Basically it was just a compromise between the north and south that was needed to instate a Constitution. Let’s say that the slave importation had continued for years past that 1808 date. I believe that had it continued longer than the constitutional 20 year agreement that the civil war would not have happened. That state rights would become more important than a strong union. That blacks would continue to go through struggles that would be completely harsh and unbearable. Our country and the world would be totally different.
Thomas Jefferson is one of the most famous people of the slave era. He was a strong opponent of Slavery throughout his entire life. Although it may seem contradictory that he owned over 200 slaves there was a reason for it. He owned those slaves due to inheritance and wasn’t allowed to release them based on Virginian law (a law he tried to overturn). Jefferson wrote the Ordinance of 1784 and included a clause that would prohibit slavery. Jefferson also included a passage in the constitution that stated his views on slavery and King George. Unfortunately when the Ordinance of 1784 and the Constitution both went to congress they were removed.

It is quite easy to judge the framers in the 1787 constitutional convention and their decisions now that we have seen history unfold. If I were to put myself in the same position as they were in I would really be unsure of what to do. Vote based on personal morals, popular sovereignty, base my decision on what other countries have done, etc. Deep down I believe I would vote on abolishing slavery. Yes it may have hurt the economics of the south but it is the most humane thing to do. To see other humans treated so unfairly and being demoralized daily would be too hard to overcome just to increase cotton profits. If I was a northerner I would have absolutely no doubt with my decision I just stated. What if I was a southerner though? It would be very hard to vote for something that could completely destroy the way of life I lived; regardless of if it was the right thing to do. Ultimately I still believe I would have voted to abolish slavery regardless of if I was a southerner or northerner. One also wonders if the civil war could have been avoided. I believe the only way it could have been avoided was if the northerners had caved in to the southerner’s demands of state rights and continuation of slavery. If that happened the entire world would have been changed. In my opinion it would have been for the worse.

Civil rights according to our American Government textbooks are government-protected rights of individuals against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by governments or individuals. An example of a civil right is the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act. This stops employers, schools, doctors etc. from discriminating someone solely based on disabilities. There’s also a policy that is the complete opposite of that. Affirmative action calls for policies that take race, gender, sexual orientation, religion etc. into consideration when hiring or accepting someone to a university. This could be considered “reverse discrimination”. Is any of that fair? This is one of the most sensitive subjects in the United States. Should schools/jobs overlook more potential students/workers for less qualified people? Or should schools/jobs try to create more diversity and help people who came from tough backgrounds? It’s a question that may never be answered.

The case of University of California, Davis vs Bakke is an interesting one. At UC Davis there was a system of committees allowing entrance to medical school. There were two committees a regular one and a “special one”. The special one was made up of minorities and its intent was to allow people who had struggled financially or educationally a way into medical school without having to have the same GPA as the regular committee asked. One white applicant felt that he met the specifications of the “special” committee but continued to not be accepted. He brought this to court where the holding was found that affirmative action systems are constitutional but a system based on race is not constitutional. A landmark case was concluded. I believe that affirmative action should continue. I believe Obama should definitely support it. It gives opportunities to many people who could never have dreamed of doors to places such as law school, med school or even college to be opened to them.




Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Cornell Law School. November 4, 2011.

Bulls, Gregory. “Thomas Jefferson and Slavery”. American Opinion Publishing, Incorporated, 1998.

U.S. Constitution Online. Craig Walenta.24, Jan 2011. US Constitution Online. November 6, 2011.

Digital History. November 8, 2011.

History of Slavery. November 6, 2011.



American Government