The United States held a Constitution Convention in 1787 and produced the most enduring constitution created by human hands (Murphy, 2007). The issue slavery was to some extent avoided by the framers of this constitution.

Slavery posed a big problem to these crafters. Some viewed the blacks in America as equal persons who deserved the same treatment just like the white Americans. However, this view was shared by a minority of the people present in the convention. One of the reasons given by those supporting recognition of slaves was their growing number. They feared that their growing population was a threat since the chances of the slaves revolting against their masters also increased. This view was shared by people from Northern America (Murphy, 2007). The South American delegates opposed this view. They were the majority in the convention, and many slaves were in South America states. They wanted slavery to prevail to improve their economic status. This issue was hotly argued at the constitution, and finally, both sides came into a conclusion. They agreed that all the slaves were to be counted as three-fifth persons for representation in the congress and payment of tax. For the slave trade, the prohibition of new slave trade was defeated. The convention also concluded that the slave trade be allowed to continue for another 20 years.

The three-fifths compromise

The constitution was crafted upon compromise between Northern and Southern states. The three-fifths compromise was an agreement between the states to count three-fifths of a state’s slaves in apportioning of Representative, Presidential electors and direct taxes, agreed during the constitutional convention (Turner-Sadler, 2006). This 5-3 ratio was suggested by James Madison. However, this clause does not mention that the three fifths are slaves. The convention avoided the use of the word ‘slaves’ and instead used the phrase ‘all other persons’. This shows the reluctance of the framers to include slaves in the constitutions. The word slave is excluded because this idea was not the idea of the framers of the constitution. They had earlier rejected it.

Taxation and importation of slave the trade

This is a mention in the constitution that addresses the issue of taxation and importation of slave trade. This clause implies that slaves were regarded as goods because they are being imported. People cannot be referred to as imports unless the ones referring them do not recognize them as equal human beings. This explains their reluctance to identify slaves in the constitution. To cover for them, they refer to slaves as imported people.

Fugitive slave

This is another clause in the constitution which refers to slaves. The clause explains that any person who is held in service or labor (referring to slaves) in one state cannot escape into another state to get away from his services (Turner-Sadler, 2006). This clause provided for the enforcement of returning slaves to their rightful owners.

These three clauses portray many views of the United State about their ruling on slavery during the time they were creating tier constitution. They show that there was no principle ruling on slavery (Turner-Sadler, 2006). The wording of the clauses was ambiguous and these clauses were mainly for the sake of compromise.

Another reason that made the framers avoid the slavery problem was economic reasons. They viewed the slaves as a wealth producing capacity. The more slaves a state had, the more capable it was for it to produce wealth and increase its economic status. These made the framers avoid the slavery issue, since they projected a reduction in the capability of wealth production if slavery was abolished. The delegates from the Southern states wanted to grow economically and pass their northern counterparts. Slaves were part of the plan to achieve this.


The framers of the constitution had a difficult time in creating the constitution. The different views from the delegates in the convention about slavery made it more difficult to put down slavery policies in the constitution. As a result, the issues surrounding slavery were not well written in the constitution.

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