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The Constitution a distinct bargain.

The Constitution of the United States was therefore a distinct bargain between the North and the South for the security of slave property, for which a redundant consideration was received by the former in the control and regulation of commerce by a simple majority instead of a two-thirds vote. From Virginia came the chief opposition to the continuance of the slave-trade. That trade was continued for twenty years; not by the vote of the solid South, [269] but of a solid New England. ‘Twenty years,’ exclaimed Madison, ‘will produce all the mischief that can be apprehended from the liberty to import slaves;’ and George Mason rebuked the melancholy choice of Mammon, for that ‘some of our eastern brethren had from a lust of gain engaged in this nefarious traffic.’ With a prophet's majesty he implored the South to reject the provision extorted as the price of this concession—the provision to pass commercial laws by simple majorities. ‘This,’ he said, ‘would be to deliver the South, bound hand and foot, to the eastern States, and enable them to say, in the words of Cromwell on a certain occasion, “The Lord hath delivered them into our hands.” ’

Public opinion had as yet experienced no violent displacement as to the merchantable quality of negroes; for the very States in which slavery itself had ceased, or was ceasing to exist, were those most actively engaged in the traffic in slaves.1

1 A dispatch from Hartford, Connecticut, to the Boston Herald says: Many of Connecticut's old-time Abolitionists have greeted Jason Brown, son of John Brown, the martyr of Harper's Ferry, who has been visiting here for two or three days past. * * In referring to the slavery question he gives this significant opinion: ‘I believe that slavery was a sectional evil, and that the people of the North were as much to blame for its long continuance as the people of the South. Why? Because the old slave States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania, when they found slavery no longer profitable, sold their slaves to other people of the South and pocketed the money. To be sure, a few liberated their slaves-noticeably, the Quakers.’—Baltimore Sun, June 2, 1891.

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