|Chapter 1:||Constitutional Law and Slavery|
The overarching priority of creating the republic merely forestalled an eventual reckoning with the Constitutional Convention’s most divisive issue. Expectations that slavery would die a natural death proved to be misplaced. With Congress unable to ban participation in the international slave trade for twenty years, a window of opportunity was created to secure and grow the institution. From the time of the Constitution’s ratification to the outbreak of the Civil War, slavery was a major growth industry. The controversy, which was deferred for purposes of creating the union, intensified rather than abated over the next several decades and eventually became the basis for the republic’s undoing.1
Central to the institution’s existence was the premise that slaves, mostly African Americans, were inferior beings. This rationalization provided cover for the real interest of maintaining the advantage of a system of free labor.
Figure 1.1. Pictured here is a storefront slave market in Atlanta. Between 1790 and 1860, the slave population in the United States increased from approximately seven hundred thousand to nearly four million.
Source. http://www.sonofthesouth.net /slavery/slave-trader/htm.