TEXT

Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution

Arguments regarding slavery during the Constitutional Convention at first were concerned with representation; however, another debate quickly arose when southern delegates were against Congress’ possessing unrestricted power to regulate commerce, concerned that Congress would use this power to work against southern commercial interests and outlaw the slave trade.
Author
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, and John Adams
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concept 3. 

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person. 

The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it. 

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed. 

No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken. 

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State. 

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another. 

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time. 

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State. 

Source
This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://abolition.nypl.org/content/docs/text/article1_section9.pdf.
Text Dependent Questions
Question
Until what year does this article specify that Congress will be barred from banning the importation of enslaved people?
Answer
Congress may not ban the importation of enslaved people until 1808.
Question
Which section of this article deals directly with the institution of slavery?
Answer
The first clause: “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”
Question
The second and third clauses of Article 1, Section 9 guarantee rights to those accused of crimes. What does it say about the state of our country, and the importance of slavery to our country’s economy at the time of the Constitutional Convention, that the slave trade provision (Clause 1) is not only the first clause of this article, but the first clause in the whole of the Constitution that restrains congressional powers?
Answer
Answers will vary.
Question
As a student in the United States, how do you feel knowing the Constitution once contained such clauses as to uphold the institution of slavery? How do you feel such clauses are at odds with our Declaration of Independence’s promise to uphold individuals’ rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”?
Answer
Answers will vary.