Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The 3/5ths clause is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the US constitution. It is, for those of you who do not recall, the idea, written into our founding document, that African Slaves would be counted as 3/5ths of one human being.

This is always discussed as a mark of the racism of the period, "black people were treated so poorly, that they were only worth 60 percent...." In fact, its more complicated, and maybe more racist than all that. Black slaves were not "valued"at 3/5ths, they were valued at 0. They certainly did not recieve 60% of property rights or basic liberty, they received 0% of those things.

3/5ths is only the degree to which slaves would be counted in southern states in order to determine the correct number of representatives each could send to the house.

The slave owning planter class of the south, who were certainly (by and large) more racist than the northerners at the constitutionally congress, wanted slaves counted just like everyone else - why? It would give them more votes.

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was one of the leading spokesman of the slave-owning southerners (S. Carolina), ironically, he was 3/5ths forehead

It was the men of the north, none of whom were slave owners who did not want African slaves counted at all. The more that slaves were valued at, the more power and influence the south would have to expand the slave trade. - As I mentioned in my previous post, Thomas Jefferson would not have won the election of 1800 were it not for the extra votes apportioned to the Southern States due to the black population. -

The 3/5ths compromise is not a compromise on the true worth of a black slave, that was not on the table, it was a compromise over how to measure the property of the states in order to properly apportion the representatives sent to the House.

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