The Growing Opposition to Slavery
Many Americans’ eyes were opened in 1776, when members of the Continental Congress drafted, signed, and published the famous document “The Declaration of Independence” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By declaring their independence, many of the colonists believed that slaves should have the same rights as the whites had. Abolition groups were formed, and the fight to end slavery begins.
In 1776, Delaware becomes the first state to prohibit the importation of African slaves. One year later, in 1777, Vermont becomes the first colony to abolish slavery (within Vermont’s boundaries) by state constitution. Ten years later, in 1787, slavery was prohibited in the Northwest Territory by the Northwest Ordinance. The Northwest Territory was the first organized territory of the United States. The states pertaining to the Northwest Territory: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The abolition of slavery in the Northwest Territory led to thought held by pro-slavery southerners that the North had the edge in the Senate and The House of representatives.
Therefore, in 1787, two delegates by the names of Roger Sherman and James Wilson introduced the Three Fifths compromise in the Philadelphia Convention. The Three Fifths compromise states that a slave be counted as three-fifths of a person. Therefore, the population of the southern states equaled the population of the northern states. Now that the populations were balanced, the south and the north sent the same amount of representatives to The House of Representatives. Pro-slavery southerners felt as if the north still had an advantage, but it was actually the south that had the advantage in the Senate and The House of Representatives. Further emancipation of northern states infuriated the southern states.
Many slaves began running away from their masters, risking their lives to earn the precious freedom and liberty that was offered in the emancipated northern states. The southern slave-holders demand they be captured, and brought back. Therefore, The House of Representatives passed The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. This act guaranteed the right of a slaveholder to recover and escaped slave. This law put fugitive slaves at risk for recapture of their lives that they had built in the north, but some slave holders did not think it was strong enough. The law also said that if a slave had a baby, the baby was property of the mother’s master. Emancipation in the north continued.
The next state to make a move was New York. In 1799, New York enfranchises all free, land owning men, regardless of skin color. New York’s emancipation gradually grew. Pennsylvania and Maine are next on the list. In 1780, Maine frees their slaves, while Pennsylvania begins to gradually emancipate their slaves. During the next following years, New Hampshire (by state constitution), Rhode Island and Connecticut (by state law), free their slaves. New Jersey...