At the end of the 18th century, no state in our Federal Union sanctioned the importation of African prisoners. If this were to happen, the institution of slavery in the United States could have died a slow and natural death. However, circumstances arose that led the plantation industry to reconsider the potential value of the transatlantic slave trade. First, the perfection of cotton gin in the early 1790s and the rapid spread of this technology transformed cotton from a labour-intensive and unprofitable crop into a highly profitable international product. Then, in the spring of 1798, the United States acquired the Mississippi Territory, which included part of modern Alabama, and thus opened millions of hectares of potential cotton fields. Finally, in the spring of 1803, the United States purchased the vast territory of Louisiana, an act that meant America`s «obvious destiny» to extend to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The combined effect of these three developments has inspired thousands of agricultural men to go west and plant cotton. New plantations to the west would of course require work, but this commodity was scarce. What could we do? On December 17, 1803, after a nearly sixteen-year hiatus, South Carolina`s legislature voted to resume imports of African prisoners immediately. In 1803, an arrest warrant was issued for the ship Charming Sally. She ordered the marshal and Massachusetts district deputies to arrest and de-enter the charming Sally ship and its equipment (material and cargo).
Isaac Sherman of Boston filed a defamation suit. A defamation is a charge against someone or something claiming property should be seized, in this case the ship and its cargo for «transporting slaves against the law». The court documents contain deposits of Lewis Ferris, a boat ship responsible for Charming Sally`s equipment and crew; and Phineas Dean, who described the mistreatment of slaves on the ship, including kicks and chains. Prof. FONER: The slave trade is very important in American history. Well, it is true that most of the slaves who were shipped from Africa to the New World during the four centuries of the slave trade did not reach the territory of the United States. Most of them went to West India or Brazil. But several hundred thousand slaves were brought to this country during the period when the slave trade was legal, during colonial times in the early 19th century. And of course, it is the basis of a flourishing system of slavery that began in the 17th century and lasted until the civil war. Article 1, Section 9, Article 1, is one of the few provisions of the original constitution that refer to slavery, although it does not use the word «slave.» This clause prohibits the federal government from restricting the importation of «persons» (at the time considered to be essentially Slave Africans), where existing national governments felt it should be allowed up to 20 years after the Constitution came into force. It was a compromise between the southern states, where slavery was essential to the economy, and the states where the abolition of slavery was achieved or contemplated.