The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery

By Don E. Fehrenbacher; Ward M. McAfee | Go to book overview

9
SLAVERY IN THE
FEDERAL TERRITORIES

BEFORE HE DEPARTED for France as a minister plenipotentiary in the summer of 1784, Thomas Jefferson served six months in Congress and managed, even during that brief interval, to leave several more indelible marks on American history. In a masterly paper he laid the foundation for the system of decimal coinage that was subsequently adopted by Congress. He coauthored a plan for the disposal of western lands featuring a grid system of survey that Congress soon incorporated in the Land Ordinance of 1785. Most notably, he drafted and secured passage of a plan of government for the West that became known as the Ordinance of 1784. 1 In the process, moreover, he raised for virtually the first time the question of whether slavery should be restricted geographically or allowed to expand with the expanding nation.

Creation of the national territorial system may be said to have begun in earnest on January 2, 1781, when the Virginia legislature passed an act ceding to the United States its vast land claims north of the Ohio River. Certain conditions attached to the cession proved unacceptable to the Confederation Congress, however, and not until March 1, 1784, did a modified offer from Virginia win congressional approval. On that same day, a committee headed by Jefferson, submitted its “plan for the temporary government of the Western territory.” 2 The plan called for division of the entire West into as many as sixteen rectilinear states, each to be largely self-governing from the start and to achieve equal status in the Confederation when its population reached that of the least populous of the original thirteen states.

-253-

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The Slaveholding Republic: An Account of the United States Government's Relations to Slavery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • The Slaveholding Republic 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - Slavery and the Founding of the Republic 15
  • 3 - Slavery in the National Capital 49
  • 4 - Slavery in American Foreign Relations 89
  • 5 - The African Slave Trade, 1789 to 1842 135
  • 6 - The African Slave Trade, 1842 to 1862 173
  • 7 - The Fugitive Slave Problem to 1850 205
  • 8 - The Fugitive Slave Problem, 1850 to 1864 231
  • 9 - Slavery in the Federal Territories 253
  • 10 - The Republican Revolution 295
  • 11 - Conclusion 339
  • Notes 345
  • Index 453
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