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of concession which it would not be prudent to disturb for a good many years.
In twenty years, there will probably be a great alteration, and then the subject may be reconsidered with less difficulty and greater coolness.
In the mean time, the compromise was upon the best footing that could be obtained. A compromise likewise took place in regard to the importation of slaves. It is probable that all the members reprobated this inhuman traffic ; but those of South Carolina and Georgia would not consent to an immediate prohibition of it—one reason of which was, that, during the last war, they lost a vast number of negroes, which loss they wish to supply.
In the mean time, it is left to the States to admit or prohibit the importation, and Congress may imoose a limited duty npon it.
EXTRACTS FROM THE DEBATES, IN THE CONVENTION OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
January 16, 1788. Hon. Rawlins Lowndes. It has been said that this new government was to be considered as an experiment. He really was afraid it would prove a fatal one to our peace and happiness. An experiment!
What ! risk the loss of political existence on experiments? No, sir; if we are to make experiments, rather let them be such as may do good, but which cannot possibly do any injury to us or our posterity.
So far from having any expectation of success from such experiments, he sincerely believed that, when this new Constitution should be adopted, the sun of the Southern States would set, never to rise again.
To prove this, he observed, that six of the Eastern States formed a majority in the House of Representatives. In the enumeration he passed Rhode Island, and included Pennsylvania.
Now, was it consonant with reason, with wisdom, with policy, to suppose, in a legislature where a majority of persons sat whose interests were greatly different from ours, that we had the smallest chance of receiving adequate advantages? Certainly not. He believed the gentlemen that went from this State, to represent us in Convention, possessed as much integrity, and stood as high in point of character, as any gentlemen that could have been selected; and he also believed that they had done everything in their power to procure for us a proportionate share in this new government;' but the very little they had gained proved what we may expect in future—that the interest of the Northern States would so predominate as to divest us of any pretensions to the title of a republic.
In the first place, what cause was there for jealousy of our importing negroes? Why confine us to twenty years, or, rather, why limit us at all? For his part, he thought this trade could be justified on the principles of religion, humanity, and justice; for certainly to translate a set of human beings from a bad country to a better, was fulfilling every part of these principles.
But they don't like our slaves, because they have none themselves and therefore want to exclude us from this great advantage. Why should the Southern States allow of this, without the consent of nine States.
Judge Pendleton observed, that only three States, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, allowed the importation of negroes. Virginia had a clause in her Constitution for this purpose, and Maryland, he believed, even before the war prohibited them.
Mr. Lowndes continued, that we had a law prohibiting the importation of negroes for three years, a law he greatly approved of; but there was no reason offered why the Southern States might not find it necessary to alter their conduct, and open their ports.
Without negroes, this State would degenerate into one of the most contemptible in the Union; and he cited an expression that fell from General Pinckney, on a former debate, that whilst there remained one acre of swamp-land in South Carolina, he should raise his voice against restricting the importation of negroes. Even in granting the importation for twenty years, care had been taken to make us pay for this indulgence, each negro being liable, on importation, to pay a duty not exceeding ten dollars, and in addition to this they were liable to a capitation tax. Negroes were our wealth, our only natural resource; yet behold how our kind friends in the North were determined soon to tie up our hands, and drain us of what we had! The Eastern States drew their means of subsistence, in a great measure, from their shipping; and, on that head, they had been particularly careful not to allow of any burdens; they were not to pay tonnage or duties; no, not even the form of clearing out; all ports were free and open to them. Why then call this a reciprocal bargain, which took all from one party to bestow it on the other.
Hon. E. Rutledge. In the Northern States the labor is performed by white people, in the Southern by black. All the free people (and there are few others) in the Northern States are to be taxed by the new Constitution; whereas only the free people and two-fifths of the slaves, in the Southern States, are to be rated in the apportioning of taxes. But the principal objection is, that no duties are laid on shipping; that, in fact, the carrying trade was to be vested, in a great measure, in the Americans; that the ship-building business was principally carried on in the Northern States.
When this subject is duly considered, the Southern States should be the last to object to it.
Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney said he would make a few observation on the objections which the gentleman had thrown out on the restriction that might be laid on the African trade after the year 1808.
On this point your delegates had to contend with the religions and political prejudices of the Eastern and Middle States,, and with the interested and inconsistent opinion of Virginia, who was warmly opposed to our importing more slaves.
I am of the same opinion now as I was two years ago, when I used the expressions the gentleman has quoted— that while there remained one acre of swamp-land uncleared in South Carolina, I would raise my voice against restricting the importation of negroes.
I am as thoroughly convinced as that gentleman is, that the nature of our climate, and the flat, swampy situation of our country, obliges us to cultivate our lands with negroes, and that without them §outh Carolina would soon be a desert waste.
You have so frequently heard my sentiments on this subject, that I need not now repeat them. It was alleged, by some of the members who opposed an unlimited importation, that slaves increased the weakness of any State who admitted them; that they were a dangerous species of property, which an invading enemy could easily turn against ourselves and the neighboring States; and that, as we were allowed a representation for them in the House of Representatives, our influence in government would be increased In proportion as we were less able to defend ourselves.
"Show some period," said the members from the Eastern States, " when it may be in our power to put a stop, if we please, to the importation of this weakness, and we will endeavor, for your convenience, to restrain the religious and political prejudices of our people on this subject."
The Middle States and Virginia made us no such proposition; they were for an immediate and total prohibition.
We endeavored to obviate the objections that were made in the best manner we could, and assigned reasons for onr insisting on the importation, which there is no occasion to repeat, as they must occur to every gentleman in the house; a committee of the States was appointed, in order to accommodate this matter, and, after a great deal of difficulty, it was settled on the footing recited in the Constitution.
By this settlement we have secured an unlimited importation of negroes for twenty years. Nor is it declared that the importation shall then be stopped ; it may be continued.
We have a security that the general government can never emancipate them, for no such authority is granted; and it is admitted, on all hands, that the general government has no powers but what are expressly granted by the Constitution, and that all rights not expressed were reserved by the several States.
We have obtained a right to recover our slaves, in whatever part of America they may take refuge, which is a right we had not before.
In short, considering all circumstances, we have made the best terms for the security of this species of property it was in our power to make.
We would have made better if we could; but on the whole, I do not think them bad.