|ebg, have you read the majority opinion of Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)? I think that would answer most of your questions. Chief Justice Taney argues that slaves (and indeed all 'persons of african decent') cannot be considered citizens because they are not included in the "people" mentioned in the preamble. His reasoning: they and their ancestors were brought by force into the United States and therefore could not be a part of those who ratified the Constitution. As to the legality of slavery, he argues that the 3/5 compromise (Art I, Sec II; also that is the origin of the phrase 'other persons') and Art I, Sec IX, which prohibited the slave trade after 1809, show that slavery was accepted as legal by the framers. It was very difficult for anyone to make a Constitutional argument for the illegality of slavery; in fact one famous abolitionist ripped up a copy of the Constitution saying that it was a pact with the devil. Lincoln and the Republican party acknowledged the legality of slavery where it existed, however they argued that Article IV, section III allowed the congress to regulate the spread of slavery into the territories. That was a much easier argument to make via the Constitution. I hope that helps.
Last edited on Mon Apr 16th, 2012 02:30 pm by Mark