The declaration for independence was given out by American representatives, American, then, being a colony of the Great Britain. American by then was constituted of majority being the slaves captured from other parts of the world and sold to merchants in the slave trade in the Great Britain who were later set free and allowed to settle in far lands which later came to be called America. America remained the colony of Great Britain until the Declaration of independence in 1776.
The declaration encompasses a number of philosophies. Assuming that I am presently a Virginia planter and slave holder, this paper seeks to address how the philosophical ideals embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the similarities and differences of philosophies in the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, affect my assumed role as a Virginia planter and slave holder. The paper also seeks to establish a constitutional ratification for and against my assumed role.
To start with, the philosophies in the Declaration of Independence include the powerful proposition that all men were created equal and each one of them has a right to life, right to think for oneself i. e. right to liberty and right to pursuit of happiness (Jefferson, 1964). This philosophy of idealism, which believes in the inherent good of humanity, affects my assumed role in that as a holder of slaves whom I use for free labor in my farm, I go against the very human rights spelt out in foregoing philosophical stance. I deny the slaves I hold, their right to liberty i. e. hey need to acquiesce to working for me as opposed to my use of force.
My holding of the slaves also seeks to show one thing: that I have failed to realize that all men were created equal, the inherent good in humanity and that no one or nothing gives me the right to hold them against their wish and consent. This does not mean that no one can have people working for him or no one can exercise power over individuals. All this is possible only if the subjects are in consent otherwise it is slavery Any conceivable government begets its power from the concurrence of the subjects (Jefferson, 1964).
The fundamental difference between the Articles of confederation and the constitution is that whereas the articles were constructed by 13 states that the constitution of the US, by then, superseded (In fact, it is more of a treaty between the 13 states), the constitution was constructed to rule the whole nation constituted of many states, all the states, as one country. The articles were parochial but the constitution is not. Another difference is that, in the articles, the government had no power to directly tax the people. This was because the people were suspicious of the government for they saw it as a great threat to their liberties.
The constitution gives the government power to directly tax people and the people are more receptive to and trust the government to do most things for them. Further, the articles had the states given one vote no matter how large the state was. This is not the case with the constitution which allows a large state a proportionate voting power. Finally, the articles are oriented to the idealist philosophy which believes in the inherent good of humanity whereas the constitution is oriented to the pragmatic philosophy which doesn’t trust that people can do the right thing.
On the part of similarities, it is seen that both, the Articles of confederation and the constitution, provide for the congress declaring war and sending ambassadors. As a Virginia planter and slave holder, the articles of confederation and the constitution may favor me or threaten me at the same time. Even as the articles of confederation fought to promote general welfare, to ensure domestic tranquility and to ensure the blessings of liberty, they always had a compromise to let slavery continue because most of the people, by then, owned slaves.
It was to take centuries later before the slaves could finally enjoy the blessings of liberty spelt out in the constitution when the constitution could later clearly emphasize award of inalienable human rights to slaves and lords alike. This was of course no good news to any Virginia planter and slave holder because it meant that they could lose the free labor from the slaves hence no productivity or expensive cost of production and they stood a chance of going to prison if they continued to keep the slaves.
This explains why Virginia delegates failed to sign the constitution during the constitutional convention. Slavery is seen going against the laws of human jurisprudence. The opening phrase in the American constitution, insurance of liberty being part of the phrase, serves as a precursor to antislavery stance of the constitution. However, the constitution may have failed in its own ways and supported slavery or any act close to slavery. A number of scholars argue that the constitution at its conception at the constitutional convention was pro-slavery.
The founders created a national charter to deal with the slavery issue, when they realized that fallout was eminent based on the issue of slavery. It is noted that the slave owners were monopolizing the government offices and dictating policies that trampled on human rights. For this reasoning that constitutional ratification appeared unclear on the issue of slavery, a Virginia planter and slave holder could not ratify the constitution until he was sure that slaves were only counted as property and not citizens lest they could attract the protection the human rights enshrined in the constitution consequently making slavery illegal.
Courtney from Study Moose
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