Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Kenneth Aslakson




slavery, america, clauses, constitution, African-Americans


As scholarship has attempted to demonstrate in recent times, early United States history has unfortunately been stained with slavery. The founding document of the nation, the Constitution, is no exception. The three provisions which affected the institution most directly are the three-fifths, slave trade, and fugitive slave clauses. Of these sections, the latter proved to be by far the most controversial in the long-run. Although the other two received lengthy debates and caused great concern in 1787 during the General Convention and over the next few years as the states discussed ratification, they caused limited levels of strain on the nation throughout their duration. Yet had it not been for their inclusion in the founding document there more than likely would have been no union of the states as there came to be. Whether or not they would have been the only ones, it is certain that South Carolina and Georgia posed the greatest threat of refusing to ratify the Constitution. As for the fugitive slave clause, one can only speculate as to what would have happened had there been debate on the issue, but the bottom line is that there was no discussion on the topic.