Nash benefits from statistical figures throughout his essays. “The first federal census reported that nearly 293,000 slaves resided in Virginia which accounted for a 250% increase since 1755 …” (Nash, 1990). This begs the question, why was slavery abolition protected for more than twenty years under the Constitution Convention of 1787 and the likes? By granting protection, Nash emphasizes, the nation was only supporting the cause of tyranny and oppression.
Eventually however, the North went through a course of realization and started to ban the importation of slaves. Most of the Southern states followed suit, freeing slaves in the process as well around the 1840s. Even when the states were providing such incentives, hypocritical abolitionists surfaced. One such individual was the philanthropic doctor, Benjamin Rush, who joined the Pennsylvania Abolition Society in 1784 while still in possession of a slave named William Grubber he had bought a year ago.
While Rush had his reasons, he did turn around three years later in 1787, when he helped write Pennsylvania Abolition Society’s Constitution playing a much more active role as its secretary. This change was attributed to a dream he had after reading Thomas Clarkson’s Essay on the Slavery and Commerce on the Human Species which was inspired by Benezet’s Historical Account of Guinea in which he was the white man amongst Africans who went into despair at the sight of him, deeming him to be an aggressive racist who would come and steal their possessions and homes. Despite the resulting guilt he felt and his efforts towards abolition of slaves, he held his own slave Grubber in his possession for another seven years.
The economic viability of compensated emancipation was considered by Nash as well. Post 1830s, Governor Morris representing Pennsylvania at the Constitutional Convention “proposed such compensation to pay for all the Negroes in the United States rather than to legitimize slavery” (Nash, 1990). Given that there were around 600,000 slaves at the time, the anticipated tax that was needed to be collected came around to approximately $90 million dollars at a rate of $150 per slave, which would amount to $180 per family, a hefty sum in those days.
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