A Necessary Evil?: Slavery and the Debate Over the Constitution

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By the early decades of the nineteenth century, Americans wondered, if slavery had become a necessary evil - economically essential but morally reprehensible. A Necessary Evil? is divided into seven chapters: the first establishes the background for slavery in the new nation and sets the stage for the debate while the second chapter records the arguments over slavery from the Constitutional Convention. Chapters three, four, and five turn to the New England, Middle, and Southern states respectively and present the complete record of slavery and the ratification debate in these regions. The next chapter demonstrates the peculiar institution's newly sanctioned role in the young republic and how abolitionists sought to reverse this growing consensus. Finally, the last chapter looks at slavery from the perspective of three of the most influential Americans, Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, to show the complexity and inner turmoil that surrounded slavery.

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Laying Slaverys Foundations
The Constitutional Convention and Slavery
New England Debates Slavery and the Constitution
The Middle States Debate Slavery and the Constitution
The South Debates Slavery and the Constitution
Slavery and the New Nation
Slavery and the Founders Three Perspectives
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (1995)

John P. Kaminski is the director of The Center for the Study of the American Constitution at the Unversity of Wisconsin-Madison. He has written and spoken widely on the Constitution. He is a former president of The Association for Documentary Editing.