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Importation of Slaves

Section 9. Clause 1. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

IN GENERAL

The above clause, which sanctioned the importation of slaves by the States for twenty years after the adoption of the Constitution, when considered with the section requiring escaped slaves to be returned to their masters, Art. IV, § 1, cl. 3, was held by Chief Justice Taney in Scott v. Sandford,1770 to show conclusively that such persons and their descendants were not embraced within the term “citizen” as used in the Constitution. Today this ruling is interesting only as an historical curiosity.

1770 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 411 (1857).

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Last modified: June 9, 2014