Establishing nuanced slavery at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787

Of the political achievements reached through the Philadelphia Convention cited by McClellan, the most important three are (1) the separation of powers, among the “branches” of government; (2) the “Connecticut Compromise,” balancing the concerns of both large states and small ones; (3) the “agreement . . . . to allow Congress to prohibit the importation of slaves after 1808.”[1]

All three of these achievement were related to processes. The most important of the three — the tepid decision to “sorta outlaw slavery… eventually” — is the most important of the three, in that it was a harbinger of the kind of limp pseudo-ethics that would poison the politics of these united, federated States for generations to come.

That slavery was a “great evil” was eclipsed by the fact that it was considered a “necessary evil.” No less than the current American (judicial) policy of infanticide[2] is an extension of the same kind of utilitarianism which said, in effect, “slavery is bad enough to end, or at least impede…starting decades from now.” This is a similar non sequitur to those child-murder advocates who tolerate that the legal killing of a child is limited to the first six months of the child’s life in the womb.[3] But why? After all, if murdering a six-month-old is acceptable — why not a seven-month-old? or a ten-month-old who is only one month out?

And likewise: if importing slaves for more than two decades into the future is acceptable — then why not three decades hence? Indeed, why not in perpetuity?[4]

Thus the tip-toed tyranny regarding slavery is the most important “achievement” of the Convention, in that it set the groundwork for the hypocrisy and moral rot that followed thereafter, continuing to this day, in regards to racialized politics in these united, federated States.


[1] McClellan, James. (1989). Liberty, order, and justice: an introduction to the constitutional principles of American government(Indianapolis: Liberty Fund), 189.

[2] See e.g. Roe v. Wade (1973).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Consider Dred Scott v. Sandford, decided in 1857 — about half a century after the presumed moral-expiration-date of slavery — which upheld blacks’ lack of fundamental rights. Consider also Brown v. Board of Education (1954), where it was held, 100 years after Dred Scott, that blacks desperately needed inclusion into pale, sickly, blinding White Culture in order to be successful–that, for blacks, “segregation is inherently unequal.”

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