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Constitutional Journal

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-Monday,Aug. 27, 1787

Last Friday Roger Sherman of Connecticut warned against a presidential power to appoint military officers, because the President ``may set up an absolute Government; taking advantage of ... an army commanded by his creatures.''

POLITICAL expediency prevailed over moral righteousness last Saturday when the Convention defused the explosive slavery issue by agreeing to a compromise formula fashioned by the Committee of Eleven.

During last Friday's session the Committee report recommended that the importation of slaves be permitted until 1800 and the slave traffic be taxed ``at a rate not exceeding the average of the Duties laid on Imports.'' The current market value for a single slave is an average of $200.

On Saturday, Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina proposed that the date for an end to the slave trade be extended from 1800 to 1808. The change was seconded by Nathaniel Gorham of Massachusetts. Unlike General Pinckney, Mr. Gorham does not own slaves, but he has ships that carry such human cargo.

The only delegate speaking against extending the slave trade for 20 years was James Madison of Virginia:

``Twenty years will produce all the mischief that can be apprehended from the liberty to import slaves. So long a term will be more dishonorable to the National character than to say nothing about it in the Constitution.''

Seven States against four voted for the compromise of extending the date to permit slave trade in exchange for levying duty on that cargo.


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