An annotation on Passage 2968 of James Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 2968


This motion by General Pinckney and Madison’s response – both immediately following the Convention’s decision to take up the Committee’s Report – are fascinating.  It should be remembered that both Pinckney and Madison were on the Committee that drafted this Report.  Although there are no records of the Committee’s meeting, it seems plausible that there was a disagreement between these two men when the Report was drafted, and Pinckney left the meeting convinced that he was on the losing side of the compromise.  He is here trying to make the compromise more advantageous for his own state.  Unfortunately, Madison is the only one to resist extending the period that the slave traffic may be permitted.  Thus Pinckney had better luck appealing to the Convention as a whole than he did to the eleven-man Committee, which included some very anti-slavery delegates.  Later, when Pinckney had to defend the twenty-year compromise within his home state, it is not surprising that he complains of contending “with the religious and political prejudices of the Eastern and Middle States, and with the interested and inconsistent opinion of Virginia, who was warmly opposed to our importing more slaves.”  It is possible that he may have been ruefully remembering Madison’s interference on this question. 

Reference: , "Pinckney in the Legislature of South Carolina," in The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787, ed. Jonathan Elliot IV: 285