Let Me Try to Unbemuse You


A member of The Gift That Keeps On Giving posted this statement:

“Many Yankee myth promoters like to wave around that the Confederacy sealed slavery into its Constitution. They love to cite Article 1 Section 9 Clause 4: “No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves, shall be passed.” Which as we know is the Grandfather Clause that allows all those who still have slaves to be able to keep them. (Until other arrangements are made etc…) They have a tendency to skip over Article 1 Section 9 Clauses 1 & 2: “The importation of negroes of the African race, from any foreign country, other than the slave holding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden, and Congress required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same. Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.”

Yes, she’s confused.  She thinks Article I, Section 9 of the confederate constitution is an antislavery clause.  People who are ignorant of history often make this mistake.  Notice that it does not prohibit importing slaves from slaveholding states and territories in the United States, so it doesn’t stop the slave trade.  What this does is allow slave exporting states like Virginia to maintain the value of the enslaved people they are selling.  By keeping the supply of enslaved people limited they were able to keep the price up.  The clause did nothing to hurt the institution of slavery.  Slavery’s continued existence was still guaranteed by the confederate constitution.

As to the “other arrangements” she alludes to, that’s simply a fantasy in her own mind.  There’s also Article IV, Section 3, Clause 3, to wit:  “The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States. ”

In other words, there weren’t going to be any “other arrangements.”  All new states would be admitted with slavery intact, because they would be formed from territories that had slavery.

Glad to help.



  1. Jimmy Dick · · Reply

    All new territories were going to become slave territories regardless of the inhabitant’s desires or wishes. Any and all areas within the CSA would automatically be slave areas. There would be no free states, no popular sovereignty, and no choice. Slavery was to be permanently enshrined within the CSA forever and ever. It was an attempt to create a nation with a firmly legally protected institution of slavery.

    Look at the ability to change it. It would have took the work of three states to call a new constitutional convention. For any changes it would have taken two-thirds of the state legislatures which meant all the states of the Deep South would control things for a very long time.

    Yep, the CSA constitution definitely revealed the role of slavery in the creation of the CSA.

    1. A state could still decide it would abolish slavery within its borders, but it would have to grant right of transit to slave owners temporarily residing in it, and it would still have to capture and return fugitives, so it would still have slavery in some measure whether its people wanted it or not.

      1. Michael Rodgers · · Reply

        And so in addition to being motivated by fear about slavery and greed about slavery, the secessionists were also motivated by spite about slavery. They complained, “In the State of New York even the right of transit for a slave has been denied by her tribunals.” And so the secessionists declared, basically, If we can’t bring our slaves to the free states, then y’all cain’t come down here neither.

        1. Oh, the fire-eaters were big on states’ rights and nullification for their states. When it came to states like New York exercising those same principles when it came to things like enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, well, that’s TYRANNY!

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