As I read Alexander Stephens' words, something "popped" into my mind that I have not pondered before. I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I'm taking a little different tack.
I admitted that the fathers, both of the North and the South, who framed the old Constitution, while recognizing existing slavery and guaranteeing its continuance under the Constitution so long as the States should severally see fit to tolerate it in their respective limits, were perhaps all opposed to the principle. Jefferson, Madison, Washington, all looked for its early extinction throughout the United States. But on the subject of slavery — so called — (which was with us, or should be, nothing but the proper subordination of the inferior African race to the superior white) great and radical changes had taken place in the realm of thought; many eminent latter-day statesmen, philosophers, and philanthropists held different views from the fathers.
What occurs to me, is that many, if not most Americans saw the possibility of emancipation in the future. It would seem that a thinking person would realize that the condition of the slaves "might" change over some period of time. Do you think that Americans ever thought that a slave population of 3.5 million people, without education, a damaged or non-existent culture and a de-stabilized or destroyed family structure would be released into the population without any preparation, education or financial support?
Are there any pre-war writings that discuss what might ultimately occur with the release or emancipation of the slaves? I would think, even the most committed or "rabid" abolitionist, would have had misgivings of an unconditional release of Southern slaves into society. I've often wondered, if the New Englanders of the time had a choice between emancipation of the Southern slaves into Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, rather than, Missississippi, Alabama or Texas, how different, if at all might, have been their views?
I'm just wondering what Americans thought would be the ultimate result of bringing such large numbers of slaves into the U.S? Did they anticipate slavery forever, I doubt it, or did they plan on some other method of almalgamating slaves into society or returning them to Africa or setting up a special location for them to live?