The 10th Amendment, Slavery & the Civil War

Years before and during the Civil War times, several Southern slave states challenged the authority of the Washington, D.C. – federal government to regulate or control any activity (particularly the existence of or spread of slavery) within their borders that was under the 10th constitutional amendment. The 10th Amendment states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (U.S. Constitution,  2010, para 24). This Amendment had been ratified in 1791 and allowed states to exercise powers that that were not constitutionally granted to the federal government. As such, the Southern-slave states had the power to regulate the activities happening within the states which included continuation of slave trade.

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