SAT Subject US History Practice Question 1029: Answer and Explanation

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Question: 1029

4. Which statement best characterizes the attitude of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention toward the issue of slavery?

A. The delegates were indifferent to the issue of slavery.
B. The delegates recognized the need for the expansion of slavery as the nation grew.
C. The delegates treated slavery as a political issue because it threatened the unity of the nation.
D. There was a deep concern among the delegates for the plight of the African slave.
E. The Southern states viewed their role with regard to the slaves as a paternalistic one.

Correct Answer: C


The issue of slavery was dealt with as a political issue because the more emotional discussion of the treatment of slaves and the plight of the slaves almost led to the dissolution of the Union during the Convention. Therefore, these aspects of slavery were set aside for the sake of the preservation of the Union. The delegates were far from indifferent on the issue of slavery, however. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, written under the auspices of the Articles of Confederation, had provided for no further expansion of slavery into the new territory. The delegates viewed slavery as an institution that would probably die on its own. The discussion over the plight of the slaves was shelved when it was clear that it could cause the break-up of the Union. The paternalistic view of slavery developed later in the 1800s, as the Southerners attempted to justify the continued existence of slavery.

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