What Is the Commerce Compromise?

By Lexa W. Lee ; Updated June 16, 2017
We the People

The Commerce Compromise refers to a compromise between the Northern and Southern States during the Constitutional Convention as to how the federal government could regulate commerce, according to "The Story of the Constitution" by Sol Bloom and Lars Johnson.

Import Taxes

The Commerce Compromise was only one of many compromises achieved during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Northerners wanted to restrict foreign competition for raw good and finished products by taxing both imports and exports. Southerners opposed taxes on exports since their economy depended heavily on cheap agricultural exports. The compromise allowed the federal government to only tax imports.

Taxes on Slaves

The continuation of the slave trade was a contentious issue that threatened the ratification of the Constitution. The Southerners, who depended on slave labor, agreed to a $10 tax on the importation of every slave, but were able to delay the tax for 20 years.

Treaty Ratification

The agreement also provided that a two-thirds majority in the Senate had to ratify all treaties. The Southerners believed this favored them. Abolitionists were left frustrated in their efforts to eradicate the slave trade.

About the Author

Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.