Dbq - Constitution Sectional Discord

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The Constitution was originally thought of as an instrument of national unity, but by the 1850s, that thought was debatable. The document was interpreted differently in the North than in the South, which naturally created tensions. The North and the South’s argument was whether or not slavery was constitutional. The Constitution did not say anything upfront about slavery, which caused problems and confusion. However, the Constitution was not a source of sectional discord, and it did not contribute to failure of the union it had created.

The Constitution is a well-developed document. However, it fails to mention slavery. “To the argument, the words ‘slaves’ and ‘slavery’ are not to be found in the Constitution.” (Document E). However, the purpose of leaving slavery out of the Constitution was to avoid conflict, which had been successful. The opposing sides used the Constitution in attempt to back their views, but the lack of any mention of slavery in the document makes it a weak attempt. As referenced in Document I, “Having never been States, either in substance, or in name, outside the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of ‘State rights,’ asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself?” The lack of “slavery” in the Constitution may have caused confusion, but it was the contrast in beliefs that essentially caused sectional discord.

During the period of 1850 through 1861, Northerners did not believe in slavery, and were opposed to the Fugitive Slave Law. “..And they have already been actually employed in kidnapping, catching, and keeping slaves. Therefore, if you value your liberty, and the Welfare of the Fugitives among you, shun them in every possible manner, as so many Hounds on the track of the most unfortunate of your race. Keep a sharp look out for kidnappers, and have your top eye open.” (Document C). The Fugitive Slave Law forced Northerners to report any runaway slaves to authorities. It can be inferred from the quoted...
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