Founding Brothers

Chapter 3 Slavery

explain what the census of 1790 showed regarding slavery, contrast the arguments of the north and the south on the issue of slavery

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The Southern delegates used the 1790 census - which revealed how many more slaves lived in the South than in the North - to argue that slavery would not simply die out, as Jefferson believed. They insisted that Northern delegates had no right to dictate behavior to the South, whose slavery situation was so distinct from their own. Arguments grew so heated that South Carolina and Georgia threatened to secede.

“One person stepped forward to answer the challenge, unquestionably the oldest, probably the wisest, member of the revolutionary generation” (108). Benjamin Franklin finally appeared in the flesh to insist that the House abolish slavery. Further, under the pseudonym “Historicus,” Franklin had published a parody of James Jackson’s proslavery speech. Franklin's now-direct involvement shamed the Southern delegates and enlivened the Northern delegates, but it would prove to be his final protest. He died three weeks later, without having forced a strong decision.