The Constitution and Slavery: What Rights are Protected?
The Constitution and Slavery: What Rights are Protected? In January of 1854, Stephen A. Douglas, the publicly recognized leader of northwestern Democrats, introduced a bill that would establish a new territory- Nebraska. Since Douglas understood the South would contest his proposal, he implemented a clause allowing the territory to establish its own laws regarding slavery. This notion of “popular sovereignty” was not enough to appease the Southern Democrats, so Douglas proposed that the new territory be split into two, with the second territory (Kansas) likely becoming a slave state. This event proved to be a turning point for slavery and our party system in America. Five years later, Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist and former slave, published a pamphlet that summarized his speeches that were given to northern antislavery listeners. Shortly before his pamphlet was published, John Brown led a massacre at Harpers Ferry, in an attempt to help promote antislavery sentiments. In his published pamphlet, Frederick Douglass explains his reasoning behind his abolitionist beliefs. He asks the audience to simply “…look at the American Constitution…and you will see with me that no man is guaranteed a right in prope
I get the feeling that he believes enslavement is too sensitive an issue to leave up to interpretation. In order for Jefferson Davis to support his concepts, he asks the Senate to share his interpretations of the Constitution. He supports his belief of non-intervention by the Congress in his 1860 speech when he says, "Non-intervention then meant, as the debates show, that Congress should neither prohibit nor establish slavery in the Territories"(219). As both men disagree with each other on many issues regarding slavery in the United States, John Brown not only agrees with Douglass, but furthers it by taking physical action to support his cause. He felt that the lives and freedoms of blacks had been violated. While I do not see eye to eye with Davis"tm belief as presented in his speech to the Senate, I recognize that while he may have been wrong, he was adamant in his beliefs. All three men believe in what they stand for and all three men believe in the integrity of America. Davis, however, believes America"tms integrity lies within the borders of its territory, the United States. Before becoming president of the Confederacy in 1861, Jefferson Davis compiled a speech which he presented to the U. While Douglass"tm interpretation is not as seemingly contrived as Davis"tm, his argument is built off what the Constitution says-black and white. With the arguments of Davis and Douglass, it is simply a matter of interpreting the Constitution. So, how is it that beliefs as different as these two are supported by the same document It all comes down the "interpretation for the cause". However, they share a heavy conflict of opinions when it comes to what "property" actually is. While he did not deny his wrongdoings, he asked the court to consider this: "-had I so interfered in behalf of half of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends"it would have been alright; and every man in the court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment" (222).
Some topics in this essay:
Brown Americans, Douglass Davis, Jefferson Davis, Massacre Brown, American Constitution,
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