How did the original version of the U.S. Consitution address slavery?What I mean: was slavery legalized/made illegal/how was it mentioned/addressed?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The words "slavery" and "slave" do not appear anywhere in the Constitution.  However, the Constitution did have three provisions that were directly related to slavery.  These all simply assumed that slavery was legal without ever coming out and saying so.

The three provisions were:

  • The Fugitive Slave Clause in Article 4.  This says that a person "held to Service or Labour" in one state who escapes to another state must be returned.
  • The three-fifths compromise in Article 1, Section 2.  This said that three-fifths of "all other persons" (other than free persons or Indians not taxed) would be counted for the purposes of representation.
  • The clause in Article 1, Section 9 that says that the slave trade cannot be banned until at least 1808.

All of these provisions simply assumed that slavery was legal without actually saying so.

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