Slavery in the United States: leave can not be banned. Where is the comma placed?

160 years ago, June 19, 1862, US President Abraham Lincolnsigned a document that is considered to be sometimes “great”, sometimes “historically important”, and sometimes “fateful”. A law developed and approved by the US Congress was sent to for to signature. This law prohibited “slavery now and henceforth in” all present and future territories of the United States.

Is the patient not dead?

This impressive rhetoric can indeed lead to the thought that the document is fateful. It may even seem that everything else was already a matter of technology, and the final lid came to slavery. It says    on all present and future territories”, and also “From now on henceforth”!

However, the real situation with slavery in the United States is best described by a quote from the cult Soviet film “Office Romance”: "Bublikov died… And then he did not die. Will will die again — unknown…" Yes Yes exactly. Slavery was abolished and banned more than once, and for a long time it was somehow not abolished and not prohibited. Moreover, some subtleties allow us to believe that this most disgraceful public institution, like Bublikov, still did not die. Well, at least can easily rise from the ashes and come back legally.

In general, the same gap between the loudly proclaimed intention and the reality “in” all the current and “future territories of the United States” sometimes so great that there is a temptation to declare these proclamations cold-blooded lies and hypocrisy. A classic example — Vermont, which, in fact, set the direction for & nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp; eradication of slavery. It was started for health. In 1777, Vermont, then quite an independent republic, adopted a Constitution that stated: “All men are born equally free and independent, and have natural and inalienable rights by which they may defend their lives and liberty. .. No man born in this country or coming from across the sea can be a slave or ward of another person after he reaches the age of 21 years. The same applies to women who have reached the age of 18.

It sounds perfect. That's just in  1790 year, a year before the entry of Vermont into the United States on state rights and 13 years after the adoption of the Constitution, in the free republic» there were 16 & nbsp; officially registered slaves. How many of them really bent their backs on the owners — God knows.

Slaves on a plantation in South Carolina, 1862 Source: Public Domain

Who crawled into the loophole?

However, there are questions about the formula of the Constitution. Suppose adult slavery was abolished. And what about kids, teens and young adults? Completely incomprehensible. Either they were simply forgotten, or they deliberately left a loophole. The latter seems much more likely.

Although for the reason that such a line guaranteed rapid, almost explosive growth of the economy in general and so rapid enrichment of individuals in particular. Is it necessary to separately mention that among these “individuals” many have occupied a prominent place, including the most famous “Founding Fathers” of the USA?

Benjamin Franklin looks more respectable than the others. He owned slaves for a long time, but by 1781 he had abandoned the business, and in 1790 he filed a petition in Congress to abolish slavery “without distinction in color of skin.” However, his colleagues — Thomas Jefferson and George Washington —practiced something fundamentally different.

The same Washington, as you know, was born in the family of a small landowner. Then — a successful marriage and a dowry of 300 slaves. As a result, by the time of his election to the presidency, Washington was one of the richest people in the country. And and still is one of the richest presidents in the entire history of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson was at least not far behind. During his lifetime, he owned 600 slaves, including children:  Locked in a stuffy, smoky workshop, the boys minted 5-10 thousand nails a day, which in 1796 brought Jefferson 2 thousand dollars of total income. Back then, his nail factory competed with the state penitentiary.

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“Husbands, wives and families, sold indiscriminately to different buyers, forcibly separated — they will probably never meet again, 1843, New York Public Library. Source: Public Domain

It is clear that in such a scenario, all attempts to initially introduce some kind of article into the US Constitution, if not abolishing, then at least restricting slavery, were doomed. The USA has become a unique, the only state in the world that was created as a capitalist, democratic and slaveholding at the same time — The Constitution of 1787 recognized slavery as a completely legal phenomenon.

So the Congress could pass, and  the incumbent president could sign any laws, even if they were notable for off-scale pathos and abolitionist rhetoric. These loud acts were worthless on a market day, since there was a Constitution that dominated all other laws. Lincoln, by the way, was well aware of this. And that everything he understood about slavery before the end of the Civil War of 1861-1865 can be judged by his own formula: My most important task in this struggle — save the Union, not save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing the slaves, I would do it, and if it had to save all the slaves to save it, I would do it too».

Actually, he and did something very similar. The famous Emancipation Proclamation September 22, 1862 — the presidential decree, which was issued, ironically, after the law on the abolition of slavery “on” all current and future territories of the United States, is about this. According to the “Proclamation” slaves in those states that did not voluntarily return to the United States before January 1, 1863, were declared free. The formulation is perfect. Any state of the South could join the forces of the North and automatically keep slavery within its territorial boundaries. The fact that nobody used it does cancel the main rule — legitimate loopholes for the revival of slavery must always be left.

Slaves of the 21st century

The Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution left those. Congress passed it in January, 1865, and three-quarters of the states ratified it in December of that same year, that is, after the end of the Civil War. It is believed that she completely and finally, at the level of the Basic Law of the country, eliminated slavery.

So it is. But there were still a few states that did not ratify the amendment. And formally, slavery persisted in some places for another hundred years, and then and more. For example, in Kentucky, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified in 1976. In Mississippi seemed to be done by 1995 the year but they got confused during the registration, and slavery was finally abolished only in 2013 the year.

And the most interesting thing is that when you carefully read the Thirteenth Amendment, which is still in effect, and which US statesmen are very proud of, you will definitely stumble over one caveat: “Neither  nor  servitude, unless they are a punishment for a crime for which the person has been duly convicted, must not exist in the United States or any other place subject to their jurisdiction. Clear? So slavery, of course, is prohibited. But only if it is not  is a properly executed punishment for some crime. That is, you cannot trade in people. And to appoint a person as a slave — can. Even if it's in theory. And the state can do it. The the thing that is considered to be the standard of freedom and democracy.

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