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[18] would give up to the confederation the great Northwest Territory beyond the Ohio, which all concede belonged to her by rights of charter, conquest and treaty, Virginia generously granted the request and conveyed that great region to the Union in 1787, only providing, that it should eventually be divided into four or five States, to be admitted on an equal footing with the original thirteen; that she should have land there, in designated localities, to distribute to her revolutionary soldiers, and that slavery should be forever prohibited from that region, but that slaves fleeing there from other States should be returned to their owners. By this deed of gift Virginia did more to draw the line of actual separation between the North and South on the question of slavery than did any or all other States combined; for the great and populous States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and part of Michigan, which were created from that territory, were the strongest factors in sustaining the North during the civil war,1 and in eventually saving the Union.

The federal convention of 1787, which framed the Constitution of the United States, provided, as one of its compromises, that the slave trade should not be abolished by Congress until 1808. This was opposed by Virginia, who desired its immediate prohibition; but it was adopted by a vote of the New England States joined with South Carolina and Georgia. Virginia was the author of the compromise upon the question of negro representation in the convention of 1787, and probably saved that body from disruption and secured the adoption of the Constitution. South Carolina determined to leave the convention if her negroes were not counted for her representation in the Congress, and it was evident that Georgia and North Carolina would follow her example; in which event the number of States to ratify the action of the convention would be wanting. Virginia proposed and carried through, as a compromise, the provision that five negroes should be counted as equivalent to three white people in making up Federal representation.

As one after another of the Northern States abolished slavery and the States carved from the Northwest Territory

1 It is difficult to give the proper title to the war of 1861-65. It was not technically civil war, because it was not waged among citizens. Strictly speaking, it was not ‘Confederate,’ as it was not instituted by the Confederacy. The term civil is now commonly used.—[editor.

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