The placement of the refugee slavery clause in Article IV and not Article I “… suggests that it was conceived as a limitation of state authority and not as an expansion of federal power and responsibility. 9 Article IV describes the powers of the federal states, not those of the federal government. This clause reminds us that slavery is a matter of state and not federal laws. Similarly, the fact that not all states allowed slavery suggests that slavery laws were considered unfair by non-slave states. This brief introductory essay on the “Interactive Constitution” will focus on the efforts of the fifty-five men who, in the summer of 1787, gathered in Philadelphia in the meeting room of the Pennsylvania State House (much later known as Independence Hall) to design the four pages of parchment of the original Constitution. But it is impossible to begin even a brief essay on the Constitution and the founding fathers of 1787 without saying a few words about the document written eleven years earlier and without which the Americans could not be busy defining the character of their new nation: the declaration of independence. The refugee slavery clause is also different from the one before it in Article IV, Section 2. The clause explains that “a person charged in each state for treason, Felony or other crimes” fleeing justice will be extradited to the state responsible for the crime. This clause more clearly indicates what type of person was sought to be repatriated to a state. Its wording relates to criminal activity, while the following clause refers to a person retained in service or work. Since the new government had little power to implement its legislation or impose taxes, it proved ineffective. In May 1787, 55 delegates from 12 states met in Philadelphia. (Rhode Island refused to send a delegation) Their aim was to revise the statutes of confederation.
In secret meetings, they quickly changed their target. They would draft a new constitution. The new government`s plan was soon approved. There would be three branches: the executive, justice and two-piece legislation. It is as if the Framer were half-consciously trying to frame two constitutions, one for their own time and the other for centuries, with slavery, considered bifocal, clearly visible at their feet, but which disappears by looking up. These compromises on slavery had a serious impact on the nation. The volatile slave clause (imposed by the laws passed in 1793 and 1850) allowed escaped slaves to be hunted and captured in the North. It also led to the illegal abduction and return of thousands of free blacks to slavery.
The three-fifths compromise increased the Southern`s representation in Congress and the Electoral College. 12 of the first 16 presidential elections were won by a southern slave. The expansion of the slave trade after 1800 brought many slaves to America. South Carolina alone imported 40,000 slaves between 1803 and 1808 (when Congress voted overwhelmingly in favour of a cessation of trade). So many slaves entered that slavery invaded the Louisiana area and took root. There was a dispute over the legislative branch. States with large populations wanted representation in both houses of the legislature to be based on population. Low-density states wanted each state to have the same number of representatives as the statutes of confederation.
This argument lasted two months. In the end, delegates approved the “big compromise.” One branch, the House of Representatives, would depend on the population.