Front Page Titles (by Subject) CCXXXIX.: James Madison in the House of Representatives. 5 - The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 3
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CCXXXIX.: James Madison in the House of Representatives. 5 - Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, vol. 3 
The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911). Vol. 3.
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James Madison in the House of Representatives.5
May 13, 1789.
I conceive the constitution, in this particular, was formed in order that the Government, whilst it was restrained from laying a total prohibition, might be able to give some testimony of the sense of America with respect to the African trade. We have liberty to impose a tax or duty upon the importation of such persons, as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit; and this liberty was granted, I presume, upon two considerations: The first was, that until the time arrived when they might abolish the importation of slaves, they might have an opportunity of evidencing their sentiments on the policy and humanity of such a trade. The other was, that they might be taxed in due proportion with other articles imported; for if the possessor will consider them as property, of course they are of value, and ought to be paid for.
[5 ]Annals of Congress, First Congress, I, 339-340.