Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Finkelman on The Creation of the Proslavery Constitution
Posted by Mary L. Dudziak
Affirmative Action for the Master Class: The Creation of the Proslavery Constitution is an earlier article by Paul Finkelman, Albany Law School, just posted on SSRN. It appeared in the Akron Law Review (1999). Here's the abstract: In 1787 the Constitutional Convention made a series of compromises on slavery that led to the creation of a proslavery Constitution. This article argues that this was the nation's first form of "affirmative action" as the Constitution explicitly protected only one form of private property: slaves. The Constitution of 1787 was a proslavery document, designed to prevent any national assault on slavery, while at the same time structured to protect the interests of slave owners at the expense of African Americans and their antislavery white allies. To understand this earliest form of affirmative action, this article examines the argument that the constitution was proslavery and then explains the Convention that wrote the Constitution and the document that convention produced.