The Three-Fifths Compromise is a compromise that resulted during the Philadelphia Convention in 1787. It is found in the Constitution of the United States in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3. This particular clause has been and still is a matter that causes mountains of resentment for many Blacks; although unjustly so. The true intention or meaning of this clause has been grossly misunderstood by many. The key word in this clause for me is the word persons. Notice the “s” at the end of persons? Since a person is defined as a human or individual, persons would be defined as more than one individual… comprehendo? I hope we’re at least in concurrence on the definition of person and persons.
Now, I’m going to post the clause for your review. Most of those who don’t understand it have never read it, so here ya go!
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
Where does it read that Blacks, slaves, robots or anyone else is three-fifths of a human being? It does not. The clause is referring to the number of PEOPLE in a state… whole people. This clause actually protected slaves by reducing the number of representatives the pro-slavery Southern Democrats could have.
The North and the South battled over the South’s greedy desire to include their slaves in the census. The reason being is that the Southern Democrats had long stated that their slaves were NOT people or persons, but property. The population of slaves were great in the south. In some instances, the slave population was equal to or were greater than the free population. If they could count slaves as persons , the Democrats could rack up on pro-slavery representation.
The Northern anti-slavery crowd said no way Jose! They didn’t want to deal with even more pro-slavery, malevolent Democrats. The North decided that if the South could count their property as persons solely to gain greater representation, then they would count their property as well; chickens, goats, pigs, plows, horses (you get the point, right?) so they could gain more anti-slavery representation. Nice move grasshoppers!
As it stood, states were allowed a representative for every 30,000 persons. The compromise determined that instead of counting free and enslaved persons, the South could only count three-fifths of the slave population… the entire population… the persons who were slaves…. get it? Enumerating only three-fifths of the slave population cut in half the number of pro-slavery representatives that could have been gained. After the compromise, the states could only gain a representative for every 50,000 persons instead of every 30,000 persons. That was great news if you were a slave or anti-slavery…. that’s 50% less racists, greedy, enslaving Democrats that the North would have to deal with.
If you’re wondering why Indians were specifically mentioned in the Constitution (Indians NOT TAXED), it’s not that they were counted as three-fifths human either. If they were not taxed, it’s most likely because they lived on tribal reservations or were nomadic. Indians who WERE taxed were enumerated.
If you are one of those people who thought the three-fifth clause counted ONE INDIVIDUAL slave as three-fifths human, and you still believe that, please don’t leave home without a helmet!
Thanks for visiting!