What was the commerce and slave trade compromise?
What was the commerce and slave trade compromise and why was it adopted?
It is an agreement between Northern and Southern states to regulate slave trade and import taxes.
Established in 1787, the commerce and slave trade compromise was introduced in the form of a negotiated agreement between state delegates who participated in the Constitutional Convention. While Northern and Southern state representatives had different views on the problem of slavery, they also had opposite demands to legislative instruments in terms of the slave trade.
On the one side, Northern states had already banned slavery. They fought for regulating the commercial side of it while Southern representatives had nothing to oppose those ideas, as they were afraid of Congress taking over the slave trade or even prohibit it once and for all. It would be a disaster for the entire agricultural segment, as the majority of Southern states were dependent on slaves’ labor.
While both parties failed to find an agreement, Congress took the Southern side letting them continue the slave trade though with some regulations and restrictions also known as the compromise. Starting from that moment, all slave owners were obliged to pay tax for every foreigner who was brought to the country as a slave. In other words, they were treated as imported products that were also considered a tax. In other words, if a slaveholder wanted to bring a new slave, he or she would have to pay $10 per person.
The only downside here was the fact that Congress had no control over taxes making it hard for the federal system to monitor and regulate them. It all resulted in three major compromises:
- The Slave trade was valid only until 1808. So, southern states had at least two more decades to cope with their agricultural needs.
- Congress eventually got the instruments and means to keep control over taxes.
- A $10 fee was established per every imported slave.
On the one hand, the compromise made it possible for southern states to use slave labor and work to meet their agricultural demands. On the other hand, northern representatives were hoping slavery would disappear by the end of the 20-year period.
What only seemed to be a compromise, eventually turned into a defeat for southern states hoping to abandon slavery. On the other hand, southern representatives were the only ones to benefit from the new lawsuit, as there was still no force to regulate slavery or taxes. In other words, Congress had no real power and was deeply influenced by the will of the South.