Warning: I have no patience for devious liars. How I treat them in this article will be no exception.
I am dumbfounded. I literally can’t believe my ears. It boggles my mind that in the wake of the recent puerile Nike – Kaepernick clown parade, journalists and political commentators who presumably made it past the 8th grade are still telling us that blacks were considered “three-fifths of a person” by those who drafted the Constitution of the United States. This myth has been dispelled numerous times in the past on numerous occasions and in numerous publications. It has been as thoroughly refuted as embryonic recapitulationism has. Yet these charlatans are still drooling this idiocy all over the media landscape as if it was some kind of profound wisdom. Are they joking? Are they trying to pull some kind of childish stunt? These are journalists and commentators who are speaking on national television from the platform of the largest and (for some reason) most respected news agencies in the world. Someone, please help me out here.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about the three-fifths clause in Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. If you have never heard of it, you’re doing better than a lot of the people who have. At least you are being honest and you aren’t being obtuse.
The clause reads as follows:
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.
First of all, black people are not mentioned anywhere in the U.S. Constitution—not here and nowhere else. Since that’s the case, it’s absurd for dishonest (or ignorant, or both) journalists and commentators to tell us that black people were considered less than persons. How could the document tell us blacks are less than persons if it doesn’t even mention blacks in the first place? Lest you want us to believe that the term is implied by being excluded from anything having to do with whites, I hate to break it to you, but white people are not mentioned anywhere in the document either.
Second, the so-called three-fifths clause does not refer to any particular ethnic group in any way. Notice the phrase “
Third, the last phrase says “
So who is this group of people who are added up to a number which is then reduced by 40%? It is abundantly clear from the text that the group this is referring to didn’t fall into the category of “free Persons.” In other words, they were slaves. As I have stated in the past, the category labeled “slaves” and the category labeled “blacks” were not equivalent at the time. Even though most of the slaves were black, nevertheless not all of them were, and not all black people were slaves. Some blacks were even slave-owners. So if you were free and you were black, you would be counted as one person. If you were a white slave, you would be part of the group whose numbers were diminished by the three-fifths calculation. So much for the “black people were considered three-fifths of a person” stupidity. It had nothing to do with skin color, folks.
Why in the world would the total number of slaves (i.e. non-free persons) in each state be reduced by 40%? To answer that, we need to examine the text of the clause again. What is the overall idea being articulated here? Answer: representatives and taxes are being apportioned among the various states according to their “respective numbers.” In other words, their populations. The larger the population, the more representatives that state would have in the House. The smaller the population, the fewer the representatives.
If you think about this only for a moment, you will recognize right away that the more representatives your state has in the House of Representatives, the more political power your state will have in Washington. The fewer representatives your state has, the less powerful your state will be.
Suppose you were alive and against slavery near the end of the 18th Century when the Constitution was being drafted. You would be intensely interested in abolishing the institution you despised. If so, would you want the pro-slavery states to have more power or less power? If you’re against slavery, you would naturally want the pro-slavery states to have less power. Common sense. The less power they have, the easier it will be politically to abolish slavery. The more power they have, the harder that task becomes.
Therefore at the end of the day, how many slaves would you want to be counted in the pro-slavery states as a final tally that determined how many representatives they could send to Washington? If you said “zero,” you would be correct. So if you’re against slavery, you want slaves (non-free persons) to be counted as zero, not three-fifths. This would be the case not because you don’t think slaves are complete persons, but because you agree with the Constitution that they are persons, and you want the states they live in to have less of the political power needed to sustain the institution of slavery. You wouldn’t want slaves (who couldn’t vote by the way) to count as one person each, because that would increase the population count and therefore would increase the power of pro-slavery states in Washington. That’s exactly what you don’t want.
The pro-slavery states wanted to count slaves as one person each because that would give them more power and therefore decrease the potential for slavery to be abolished.
The overly-generous move good and decent people made was to allow the total of slaves to be counted as anything higher than zero, so they arrived at the three-fifths compromise. They weren’t happy about it. They would rather the number be zero. But they knew if they held out for that extreme, the pro-slavery states might not join the club, and the slavery they practiced there may never have been abolished at all. The anti-slavery states wanted slaves to be counted as zero, so anything more than zero was a compromise good people were wishing they did not have to make.
These dishonest commentators and “journalists” should be saying the opposite of what they’re saying. They should be saying, “Even though the drafters of the Constitution knew the slaves were persons in reality, they didn’t want them to be counted as fully persons so as to diminish the power of the pro-slavery states where they lived to perpetuate the evil of slavery.” But they don’t say that. If they did, they would be telling the truth, and we all know that for them that is not an option. They want to pretend the 3/5ths compromise was about racism and skin color. And they want their listeners to be suckered into believing this asinine fatuity. There is only one reason for this: they hate America, and they will vomit out any ridiculous lie at their disposal to discredit it.