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1 In the debate of the same day, “ General Pinckney declared it to be his firm conviction that, if himself and all his colleagues were to sign the Constitution, and use their personal influence, it would be of no avail toward obtaining the consent of their constituents. South Carolina and Georgia can not do without slaves. * * He contended that the importation of slaves would be for the interest of the whole Union. The more slaves, the more products to employ the carrying trade; the more consumption also; and the more of this, the more revenue for the common treasury. He admitted it to be reasonable, that slaves should be dutied, like other imports, but should consider a rejection of the clause as an exclusion of South Carolina from the Union.Mr. Baldwin has similar conceptions in the case of Georgia. Mr. Wilson (of Pennsylvania) observed, that, if South Carolina and Georgia were thus disposed to get rid of the importation of slaves in a short time, as had been suggested, they would never refuse to unite, because the importation might be prohibited. As the section now stands, all articles imported are to be taxed. Slaves alone are exempt. This is, in fact, a bounty on that article. Mr. Dickinson [of Delaware] expressed his sentiments as of a similar character. And Messrs. King and Langdon [of New Hampshire] were also in favor of giving the power to the General Government. General Pinckney thought himself bound to declare candidly, that he did not think South Carolina would stop her importations of slaves in any short time; but only stop them occasionally, as she now does. He moved to commit the clause, that slaves might be made liable to an equal tax with other imports; which he thought right, and which would remove one difficulty that had been started. Mr. Rutledge seconded the motion of General Pinckney. Mr. Gouverneur Morris wished the whole subject to be committed, including the clause relating to taxes on exports, and the navigation act. These things may form a bargain among the Northern and Southern States. Mr. Butler [of South Carolina] declared that he would never agree to the power of taxing exports. Mr. Sherman said it was better to let the Southern States import slaves than to part with them, if they made that a sine qua non.” On the question for committing the remaining part of Sections 4 and 5, of Article VII., the vote was 7 in the affirmative; 3 in the negative; Massachusetts absent.--Ibid., p. 1392.
2 An instance of this quieting influence, as exerted by The Federalist, a series of letters, urging upon the Northern people the adoption of the new Constitution, as framed and presented to their several legislatures for ratification by the Federal Convention, may be shown in the following:
It were, doubtless, to be wished that the power of prohibiting the importation of slaves had not been postponed until the year 1808; or rather, that it had been suffered to have immediate operation. But it is not difficult to account either for this restriction on the General Government, or for the manner in which the whole clause is expressed. It ought to be considered as a great point gained in favor of humanity, that a period of twenty years may terminate forever, within these States, a traffic which has so long and so loudly upbraided the barbarism of modern policy; that within that period it will receive a considerable discouragement from the Federal Government, and may be totally abolished by the concurrence of the few States which continue the unnatural traffic, in the prohibitory example which is given by so large a majority of the Union. Happy would it be for the unfortunate Africans if an equal prospect lay before them of being redeemed from the oppression of their European brethren. --The Federalist, vol. i., p. 276.
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