A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT IN SLAVERY
Ratification of the Constitution created a new political union. Even when consisting of only thirteen states, as it did in the immediate aftermath of revolution, the nation comprised many interests and competing priorities. The rivalries, differences and chauvinism of the several states were an impediment to but ultimately a reason for establishing a viable national union. Under the Articles of Confederation, which governed the nation in the years immediately after the American Revolution, the federal government had no power over interstate commerce. Minus centralized authority and uniformity of standards, the various states sought to maximize their respective advantage by means of taxation, tariffs and other trade barriers. As economic warfare devolved into economic chaos, it became apparent that the fledgling union would not prosper and might not survive without structural revision. A commonly sensed need to enhance national economic powers soon expanded into inspiration for the Constitutional Convention which, in 1787, generated the plan for a new political system.
Not all differences among the states were resolved in the framing and ratification process. Brokering a new nation required compromise, the success of which depended on calculated ambiguity and manipulability of terms. Agreement with respect to the contents of the Constitution thus did not resolve all aspects of the document's meaning or even its general purpose. Even now, perceptions vary with respect to what the Constitutional Convention achieved and the charter it produced signifies. For some,