KENTUCKY AND SLAVERY: THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1792
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Slavery, protected by the United States constitution, expanded as new territories opened up. Heated debate over abolition accompanied slavery’s expansion. In Kentucky’s constitutional convention of 1792, antislavery sentiments for abolition were countered by an argument for protecting slavery. This thesis analyzes the proslavery argument of lawyer George Nicholas who opposed the antislavery argument of minister David Rice. Analyzing that debate, this thesis argues that an entrenched, economic and legal, proslavery argument overcame a humane, moral, antislavery argument. Including an analysis of the consequences for African Americans, the thesis concludes how and why a growing minority of slaveholders was able to perpetuate slavery in the second constitutional convention of 1799. Consequently, Kentucky presents an important case study of how slavery took hold and expanded in a state where the majority did not own slaves.