In this final installment of the New York Times’s Disunion column, Paul Finkelman surveys some of the significant ways the Civil War changed how Americans interpret the Constitution. Finkelman offers the following observation to illustrate the extent of the constitution’s protection of the institution of slavery.
Finally, it took two-thirds of Congress to send a constitutional amendment to the states, and it took three-fourths of the states to ratify any amendment. Had the 15 slave states all remained in the Union, to this day, in 2015, it would be impossible to end slavery by constitutional amendment, since in a 50-state union, it takes just 13 states to block an amendment.
Keep that in mind next time you are told that slavery would have died a natural death had there not been a civil war.