- What does justice mean to you?
- Whose responsibility is it to be just?
- How can an injustice be changed or challenged?
In this lesson, you look at slavery as it existed in colonial Virginia. Specifically during the mid-to-late 1700s, before the United States was a country and was still a part of the British empire. As you analyze the primary sources, consider the definition of justice and its relationship to the law and to individual people.
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An Atrocious Debasement of Human Nature: Benjamin Franklin, the First Abolitionist Petitions, and Justice
In this lesson, students will evaluate Benjamin Franklin’s actions to abolish slavery in the early republic. They will also use Franklin’s example to think about how they can promote justice for themselves and others.
Slavery: Presidents and the Constitution
At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates were concerned with the survival of the young nation. Many delegates called for strong protections for slavery, while many others hated the idea of putting into the Constitution the idea that there could be property in people. With the goal of forming a Union, they reached a compromise. Slave states would count 3/5ths of their slave populations towards their state populations to calculate taxation and representation in Congress. Additionally, Congress could not outlaw the international slave trade until 1808. The debate over the federal government's power to regulate slavery continued through the Civil War. James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson, who served as President of the United States in the years immediately before, during, and after the Civil War, each had different approaches to the constitutional powers of the President, if any, to interfere with the spread of slavery.