Chapter 6: Instant Information
6. Instant information From its inception, the American federation had been based on a consensus among the plantation owners of the South and the manufacturers, merchants and free farmers of the North that slavery was an acceptable practice. Implicitly, in return for the South’s acceptance of tariﬀ protection against imported manufactures, the North agreed not to interfere with the plantation economy’s ‘peculiar institution’. Nowhere in the Constitution of 1787 or in the Bill of Rights of 1791 are the words ‘slave’ or ‘slavery’ mentioned. However, under Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, a state’s representation in the House of Representatives is to be proportional to the number of free persons plus three-ﬁfths of ‘all other persons’. Implicitly, a black slave was worth only 60 per cent as much as a free white. The initial goal of this interstate alliance had been to win independence from Britain. Subsequently, attention turned to expansion at the expense of the European colonial powers, with the beneﬁts shared between slave and free societies. In Britain and its colonies, slavery was abolished by the reform Parliament of 1833, with slave owners receiving government compensation. However, in the southern United States, the institution of slavery continued to thrive, despite a ban on slave imports since 1808. Then in the 1830s came an invention that would expose the iniquities of slavery to those in the farthest corners of the republic, creating an unbridgeable gap between North and South. A PRESIDENTIAL AUDIENCE The Washington Capitol, seat...
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