How We Sold Our Soul–Three-Fifths Compromise and Slavery

The Articles in the Category cover a vast range of history not only in our country but in the world as well. The category is entitled “How We Sold Our Soul”. In many cases our history has hinged on compromises being made by the powers at be. They say hind-sight is 20/20, which is why I am discussing these land mark decisions in this manner. The people that made these decisions in many cases thought they were doing the right thing. However in some instances they were made for expediency and little thought was given to the moral ramifications and the fallout that would result from them. I hope you enjoy these articles. The initial plan is to discuss 10 compromises, but as time progresses I am sure that number will increase.

The three-fifths compromise was an agreement reached by the state delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Under the compromise, every enslaved American would be counted as three-fifths of a person for taxation and representation purposes. This agreement gave the Southern states more electoral power than they would have had if the enslaved population had been ignored entirely.

Key Takeaways: The Three-Fifths Compromise

  • The three-fifths compromise was an agreement, made at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, that allowed Southern states to count a portion of its enslaved population for purposes of taxation and representation.
  • The agreement allowed the enslavement of Black people to spread and played a role in the forced removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands.
  • The 13th and 14th Amendments effectively repealed the three-fifths compromise.

Origins of the Three-Fifths Compromise

At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the founders of the United States were in the process of forming a union. Delegates agreed that the representation each state received in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College would be based on population, but the issue of slavery was a sticking point between the South and the North.

It benefitted Southern states to include enslaved people in their population counts, as that calculation would give them more seats in the House of Representatives and thus more political power. Delegates from Northern states, however, objected on the grounds that enslaved people could not vote, own property, or take advantage of the privileges that White men enjoyed. (None of the lawmakers called for the end of slavery, but some of the representatives did express their discomfort with it. George Mason of Virginia called for anti-slave trade laws, and Gouverneur Morris of New York called slavery “a nefarious institution.”)

Ultimately, the delegates who objected to enslavement as an institution ignored their moral qualms in favor of unifying the states, thus leading to the creation of the three-fifths compromise.

The Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution

First introduced by James Wilson and Roger Sherman on June 11, 1787, the three-fifths compromise counted enslaved people as three-fifths of a person. This agreement meant that the Southern states got more electoral votes than if the enslaved population hadn’t been counted at all, but fewer votes than if the enslaved population had been fully counted.

The text of the compromise, found in Article 1, Section 2, of the Constitution, states:

“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 compromise acknowledged that slavery was a reality, but did not meaningfully address the evils of the institution. In fact, the delegates passed not only the three-fifths compromise, but also a constitutional clause that allowed enslavers to “reclaim” enslaved people who sought freedom. By characterizing them as fugitives, this clause criminalized the enslaved individuals who ran away in quest of their freedom.

How the Compromise Affected Politics in the 19th Century

The three-fifths compromise had a major impact on U.S. politics for decades to come. It allowed pro-slavery states to have a disproportionate influence on the presidency, the Supreme Court, and other positions of power. It also resulted in the country having a roughly equal number of states that opposed and favored enslavement. Some historians contend that major events in U.S. history would have had opposite outcomes were it not for the three-fifths compromise, including:

  • The election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800;
  • The Missouri Compromise of 1820, which allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a pro-slavery state.
  • The Indian Removal Act of 1830, in which Indigenous peoples were forcibly removed from their land.
  • The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed residents to determine for themselves whether they wanted to allow the enslavement of Black people in their territories.

Altogether, the three-fifths compromise had a detrimental impact on vulnerable populations, such as the enslaved and the nation’s Indigenous peoples. The enslavement of Black people may have been kept in check rather than allowed to spread without it, and fewer Indigenous peoples may have had their way of life upended, to tragic results, by removal policies. The three-fifths compromise allowed the states to unite, but the price was harmful government policies that continued to reverberate for generations.

Repeal of the Three-Fifths Compromise

The 13th Amendment of 1865 effectively gutted the three-fifths compromise by outlawing the enslavement of Black people. But when the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, it officially repealed the three-fifths compromise. Section 2 of the amendment states that seats in the House of Representatives were to be determined based on “the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

The repeal of the compromise gave the South more representation, since the members of the formerly enslaved Black population were now counted fully. Yet, this population continued to be denied the full benefits of citizenship. The South enacted laws such as “grandfather clauses” meant to disenfranchise Black people, even as their population gave them more influence in Congress. The additional voting power not only gave Southern states more seats in the House but more electoral votes, too.

Congress members from other regions sought to reduce the South’s voting power because Black people were being stripped of their voting rights there, but a 1900 proposal to do so never materialized. Ironically, this is because the South had too much representation in Congress to allow for a switch. Until as recently as the 1960s, Southern Democrats, known as Dixiecrats, continued to wield a disproportionate amount of power in Congress. This power was based in part on the Black residents, who were counted for the purposes of representation but who were prevented from voting through grandfather clauses and other laws that threatened their livelihoods and even their lives. The Dixiecrats used the power they had in Congress to block attempts to make the South a more equitable place.

Eventually, however, federal legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would thwart their efforts. During the civil rights movement, Black Americans demanded the right to vote and ultimately became an influential voting bloc. They have helped a slew of Black political candidates get elected in the South and nationally, including the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, demonstrating the significance of their full representation.

What is the 3/5 Compromise?

Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of the US Constitution outlines how both representatives and taxes are to be split between states. The compromise itself is the phrase

“three fights of all other Persons,”

meaning that every five slaves in a state would count as three free people for the purposes of determining how many congresspeople a state would be allotted.

The three-fifths compromise has since been superseded by the Fourteenth Amendment. Not only did the fourteenth amendment remove the three-fifths clause, but it also included language that attempted to reduce states’ congressional representation if they prevented otherwise eligible voters from voting.

Why Was The Three Fifths Compromise Significant?

The three-fifths compromise was a vital part of negotiations surrounding the first constitution. Without this clause, it would have been far more difficult to get Southern states to ratify the document, making it less likely that a unified United States would have been created. The institution of slavery contributed to regional and economic differences between the Northern and Southern states. As Southern states had smaller populations of free whites, they would have been outvoted in Congress without the three-fifths compromise or another similar law.

The American Slave Economy

While slavery was somewhat legal in some European countries, it was wholly unchecked in American and Caribbean colonies. European colonists used African slaves as a source of cheap labor on their plantations, transporting about half a million enslaved Africans to the United States. While some slaves were kept in Northern states, the majority of them were owned by plantations in the south.

Slavery saw an exponential increase in profitability after the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, six years after the Constitution was written.

How Slaves Affected Population

The first US Census in 1790 illustrated a stark difference between the population of Northern and Southern states. Massachusetts had a population of 378,787 with zero slaves. Virginia had a population of 747,610, but 292,627 of its residents were slaves. Without the three-fifths compromise, Massachusetts would have been allotted a similar number of congressional representatives, despite the fact that Virginia had nearly twice the population.

Regional Political Differences

The American Revolutionary War started over issues of unfair representation in government. Slogans like “no taxation without representation” inflamed the colonists against the British. This meant that the idea of fairly splitting power between states was incredibly important to the framers of the Constitution.

Despite the importance of this concept, however, the three-fifths compromise was perhaps more greatly influenced by political necessity than fairness. Northern and Southern states had very different economies, and this disparity would only grow as the Industrial Revolution progressed. This meant that issues like trade and taxation would affect the regions differently, forcing constitutional delegates from Southern states to fight tooth and nail for representation to ensure that future legislation would be fair for their states.

Different Political Ideologies

Northern states were ideologically very different from Southern ones. In Southern states, attacking the institution of slavery was virtually unheard of. In Northern ones, not only were abolitionists hard at work trying to enact laws to ban the practice, there were advocates attempting to give women and blacks the right to vote. They achieved varying degrees of success.

The existence of these ideas (from a somewhat-unified block of states that was culturally and economically different) further contributed to Southern delegates’ very valid fears about being overrun in Congress. Without some sort of consideration for their slaved populations, these states would have had a very tough time fighting against national abolitionist legislation. As a result, the three-fifths compromise was necessary to protect the Southern way of life.

The Civil War

The Constitution was written less than a decade prior to the introduction of the cotton gin. The ability to efficiently process harvested cotton changed American slavery forever, as working an acre of farmland became much, much more profitable. This change deepened the existing ideological and economical divides between Northern and Southern states.

Had the Constitution been penned as little as a decade later, it’s possible that the founders would have recognized this growing divide and produced a better solution than the three-fifths compromise.

In the 1850s, political tension surrounding the institution of slavery began to rise. The three-fifths compromise had so far guaranteed that Southern states had the votes they needed to protect the institution. Their ability to do so forever seemed to be crumbling. After Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the political climate changed, and Southern states began to secede from the United States to prevent the seemingly inevitable creep of abolitionism.

The exact factors that led to the Civil War were numerous and complex. The three-fifths compromise’s biggest contribution was that it served as a short-term fix to a growing long-term problem. It was the political equivalent of throwing a rug over an issue and ignoring it. Debates over the issues surrounding slavery and representation continued, certainly, but the three-fifths compromise was effective at stopping them in such a way that no meaningful progress could be made towards resolving the issue of slavery.

Introducing the Three-Fifths Compromise

The Three-Fifths Compromise in the Articles of Confederation

The three-fifths compromise in the US Constitution was preceded by a proposal for a similar measure under the Articles of Confederation.

The Articles of Confederation assigned tax obligations to each state based on population. A Virginian, Benjamin Harrison, suggested that slaves should be counted as half of one person. Several representatives from New England attempted to argue the number up to three-fourths before James Madison proposed the three-fifths number. The amendment very nearly passed, falling just two votes short of becoming law under the Articles of Confederation.

The Three-Fifths Compromise at the Constitutional Convention

During the Philadelphia Convention to draft the Constitution, the three-fifths compromise was first proposed by James Wilson and Charles Pinckney. Wilson was an English-born legal scholar and orator who was responsible for drafting key pieces of the Constitution, notably those concerning the executive branch. Pinckney was a delegate from a plantation in South Carolina who later served as governor to his state three times.

The core of their proposal, that congressional representation in one house of Congress should be based on population, was unanimously accepted in principle. Debate centered around the three-fifths number. Northern state delegates argued that only voters should count, while Southern state delegates argued that every person should count, regardless of their ability to vote. Eventually, the three-fifths compromise was agreed to by a majority vote.

The initial idea was proposed on June 11, passing by a 9-2 majority. The detailed debate commenced between July 9 and 13, and the three-fifths number was initially rejected 6-4. Southern states quickly realized that a higher number (such as five-fifths) would not pass, so they ultimately agreed to the compromise, allowing it to pass 8-2.

Differences Between the Three-Fifths Compromises

Notably, the three-fifths compromise in the Constitution is essentially the reverse of the proposed amendment to the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation, states were taxed based on their population, so states wanted to have a low population. Under the Constitution, states were given congressional power based on their population, so states wanted to have a high population. This means that the same politicians that might have tried to argue one number in one direction may very well have tried to argue the other number in the opposite direction.

The Legacy of the Three-Fifths Compromise

Disproportionate Representation of Southern States

Armed with census data, historians have been able to examine the effects of the three-fifths compromise on the nation’s history. By removing congressional seats earned based on slaves, it’s possible to estimate how different events could have played out with a slightly different vote count.

Notably, southern states would have been outvoted in the House nearly immediately. In 1793, for example, slave states had 47 of 105 congress seats. Without the three-fifths compromise, this number would have been reduced to 33. In 1812, Southern states had a thin majority of 76 out of 143 seats. Without the compromise, they’d have been a minority of 59.

The electoral college ensures that presidential votes are apportioned based on congressional representation. Historians believe that without the three-fifths compromise, Thomas Jefferson would have lost the 1800 presidential election to John Adams. The loss of power by the Federalist party was a clear turning point in the early history of the United States. Had Jefferson not defeated Adams, it’s likely that Federalist influence would have continued and changed the course of the country.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

While slaves were ostensibly freed in 1865 by the Thirteenth Amendment, Southern states continued to benefit disproportionately from their black populations for decades afterward. Freed slaves could vote, meaning they counted fully for the purposes of determining congressional representation. All the states had to do was ensure that they did not vote meaningfully.

Voter suppression efforts were fantastically successful, especially during the antebellum era.

Disenfranchisement tactics included poll taxes, unfair literacy tests, and overt threats, including lynching, The effectiveness of these tactics meant that immediately after the Civil War, Southern whites effectively had even more disproportionately advantageous representation in the House of Representatives than they did under the three-fifths compromise.

Just like under the compromise itself, this increased representation gave Southern states disproportionate political power. This power helped shape important national laws, elections, and decisions for nearly a century.

Civil Rights Activism

Congress began investigating the tactics used by the Southern bloc in the 1900s, although these tactics would continue in earnest for decades. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s began to find some traction, resulting in the passage of several federal statutes and a constitutional amendment. While some argue that voter suppression tactics continue today, these efforts are far less direct and much more likely to be successfully challenged in court than the tactics employed prior to the Civil Rights movement.

Discrimination, segregation, and racism were not exclusively Southern problems. States like New York employed measures that ensured that blacks were second-class citizens well into the 1950s and 1960s, a century after the repeal of the three-fifths compromise.

The compromise’s effective halt of forward movement on issues of slavery and racism likely contributed to this issue.

The Three-Fifths Compromise: A Weak Equilibrium

Compromise Created Deadlock

The importance of the institution of slavery to southern states was a key issue that shaped national politics as the US continued to grow. Westward expansion became a major political issue in the coming years. As settlers filled out new territories, they created the opportunity for new states to join the Union. Southern states used their political power (earned via the three-fifths compromise) to ensure that the US had an equal number of slaveholding and non-slaveholding states for years.

Slavery was the biggest issue that drove the Civil War, but the growing tension over the issue was a driving force behind armed conflict. The three-fifths compromise ensured that Southern and Northern states had similar amounts of political influence. Since neither side had the power to force a resolution on the issue, tensions continued to rise. When Lincoln was elected president, this equilibrium exploded into violent secession.

Politics Over Morality

Abolitionism and the morality of slavery were very much topics of debate among the founding fathers. These ideas were likely debated during the constitutional convention, although not in concrete terms. To the founding fathers, building a nation was the ultimate goal. All other concerns were secondary. As a result, politically possible compromises (like the three-fifths compromise) were considered over politically difficult ones like the abolition of slavery.

Equal Representation Wasn’t Always The Goal

The three-fifths compromise was not the only concession that the founding fathers made in terms of proportionate representation. While the House of Representatives has seats allotted based on population, the Senate gets two representatives per state. This idea remains popular, as it creates a different, smaller environment for debate and ensures that all states are represented.

Understanding the three-fifths compromise

The U.S. Constitution is a document that evolves with the times. Constitutional inadequacies and societal injustices are challenged, and social progress is the result. Instead of reverence for this brilliant document that ensures our rights, it is attacked by some as a severely flawed and even a racist contract.

One of the most widely used means to defame the Constitution is to manipulate perception of the three-fifths compromise. Agenda-driven academicians and committed ideologues routinely state the U.S. Constitution only recognizes blacks as three-fifths of a person. No context is given. This often-repeated falsehood foments disrespect of the Constitution and contempt for the founders who authored it.

The U.S. Constitution does not relegate blacks to “three-fifths of a person” status. Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: “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 “other Persons” were slaves.

The 1787 Constitutional Convention addressed the apportionment in the House of Representatives and the number of electoral votes each state would have in presidential elections based on a state’s population. The Southern states wanted to count the entire slave population. This would increase their number of members of Congress. The Northern delegates and others opposed to slavery wanted to count only free persons, including free blacks in the North and South.

Using the logic of the promoters of the “three-fifths of a person” interpretation, think of the constitutional ramification had the position of the Northern states and abolitionists prevailed. The three-fifths clause would have been omitted and possibly replaced with wording that stated “other Persons” would not be counted for apportionment. The Constitution, then, would be proclaiming slaves were not human at all (zero-fifths). This is an illogical conclusion and was certainly not the position of Northern delegates and abolitionists.

Counting the whole number of slaves benefited the Southern states and reinforced the institution of slavery. Minimizing the percentage of the slave population counted for apportionment reduced the political power of slaveholding states.

Denigration of the Constitution is not restricted to committed demagogues.

San Antonio’s U.S. District Judge Fred Biery addressed the Austin Bar Association on Law Day 2012. His speech focused on various social injustices in America’s past and how attorneys righted these wrongs. Biery used the example of then-recent Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. The judge asserted that in 1787 when the Constitution was ratified, Griffin’s “ancestors … were counted only as three-fifths of a human being.” Biery is alarmingly ignorant. Or worse, he is consumed with the need to promote and further a personal creed.

There are other troubling aspects of the lifetime judge’s declaration. Biery’s speech was published in San Antonio Lawyer after he addressed the bar association. Didn’t any of the attorneys at the meeting who actually understood the meaning of that portion of the Constitution advise Biery of his misrepresentation?

David Gans is the director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights and Citizenship Program at the Constitutional Accountability Center, a think tank and law firm. The Express-News published a column by him on constitutional requirements in the past year (“Count all people, as Constitution requires, March 10) in which he stated that “someone who was enslaved would be counted as three-fifths of a person” for the purpose of determining representation in Congress.

The magnitude of this constitutional illiteracy is not restricted to those on the political left. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice routinely stated in her speeches, “In the original U.S. Constitution, I was only three-fifths of a person.”

In 1787, the founders were attempting to form a union and preserve the nascent United States. This imperfect compromise allowed for preservation of the republic while also confronting the moral and systemic evils of slavery. Erroneous and distorted interpretations of the Constitution only intensify the societal divide in America.

The Constitution Ended Slavery – Politicians Prolonged It

The Constitution Ended Slavery – Politicians Prolonged It

While defending the Constitution I am met often with two questions:  1) If the founders were so great and the Constitution such a great document, why did it preserve slavery?  2) Why did the Constitution treat black people as 3/5th a person?  To understand the truth, we start with some basics…

Art Slavery

Slavery was an imposition placed upon the colonists by Great Britain.  Col. George Mason describes this source and its problem during the Federal Convention (22 Aug. 1787):

“This infernal traffic originated in the avarice of British Merchants.  The British Govt. constantly checked the attempts of Virginia to put a stop to it.”

This created an addiction to this labor in many States.  Judge Pendleton observed during the Debate in South Carolina House of Representatives (1788) “that only three States, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, allowed the importation of negroes.  Virginia had a clause in her Constitution for this purpose, and Maryland, he believed, even before the war, prohibited them.”

However, James Madison also pointed out during the Debate in the Virginia Ratifying Convention (15 June 1788) that there were even “a few slaves in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut: these states would, probably, oppose any attempts to annihilate” slavery.

How could the States overcome their differences on this subject and agree on enough to form a Union? The drafters of the Constitution had an advantage, they knew a few things to be absolutely true and these things would provide the solution to their dilemma.

The drafters of the Constitution knew their history, they had studied governments and how people interact in society throughout history and they knew the principles of Liberty.  They KNEW that they could not plow new fields overnight; they understood that they could not reform society with one move.  But they KNEW they were forming a REPUBLIC and NOT a democracy.

A democracy is mob rule; it is tyranny in public form.  Jefferson said, “173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one.”  With a democracy, the majority of the people would always oppress the minority.  Liberty would never prosper and grow.  The force of the majority would always keep the minority in servitude.  By creating a republican government, they were able to provide minorities with a society-changing voice.  This voice would ensure not only the survival of Liberty but also its expansion.

In order for a Republic to function properly, there must be proper representation.  If there is a way to manipulate the number of representatives allotted to a State, then that would be another avenue for one party to seize the power of another.  Representation was to be established through population and controlled through the popular vote.  Incorporating the slave population in order to determine the number of representatives was causing some states to cry foul.

The slave owners wanted to classify slaves as “property” to avoid the application of rights to them as “persons,” but wanted to also classify them as “persons” for establishing representative power in Congress.  The objection was, the States with greater slave populations would get greater representation, but since only “freemen” could vote, greater representation would be consolidated into fewer people. The large slave owners would almost assuredly control the vote in the State and have greater representation and control in Congress. This skewed representation could delay the desired end to slavery significantly.

The drafters’ solution to this dilemma was the 3/5th Compromise which, along with article 1 section 9, would help to further the of end slavery.  The 3/5th Compromise did not, as popular education teaches, count each slave as 3/5th of a person, it deprived Slave States 2/5th of their representation in Congress!  This created a powerful incentive to end of slavery legislatively.  Slave States would have a reduced representative power in Congress and the Free States would have an increased representative power.  This would not only ensure that the Slave States could not over power the Free States in Congress, but also would act as an incentive for the people of the Slave States to demand their government free the slaves to obtain the full potential of their representative power.  The 3/5th Compromise did not make “black men 3/5th of person,” but ensured that the true power to end slavery would come through the will of the people over their government.  Former slave and famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass made this very point in 1860 in a speech in Glasgow, Scotland:

“I answer — It is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation. A black man in a free State is worth just two-fifths more than a black man in a slave State, as a basis of political power under the Constitution. Therefore, instead of encouraging slavery, the Constitution encourages freedom by giving an increase of “two-fifths” of political power to free over slave States. So much for the three-fifths clause; taking it at is worst, it still leans to freedom, not slavery; for, be it remembered that the Constitution nowhere forbids a coloured man to vote.”

The second constitutional mechanism to end slavery was the sunset provision incorporated into the Constitution, Article 1 Section 9, a provision that would provide the means to end slavery in 1808 by putting an end to the importation of slaves once and for all.

“The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think fit to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person;”

The framers understood that the end of the slave trade would bring about the end of slavery.  Stop the flow of slaves and the trade that George Mason called “diabolical” and “disgraceful” and Patrick Henry called “a lamentable evil” would be extirpated.  They believed the abolition of the slave trade equaled the abolition of slavery as a whole.

“Men, at that time, both in England and in America, looked upon the slave trade as the life of slavery. The abolition of the slave trade was supposed to be the certain death of slavery. Cut off the stream, and the pond will dry up, was the common notion at the time.” – Frederick Doglass

The final guarantee to the end of slavery our drafters secured came through the ratification of the Constitution. If these Slave States refused to join the Union, the trade of slaves on the American Continent, and by the very neighbors of the Union could go on forever.  However, if the Slave States wanted to be part of the Union, if they wanted to participate in the benefits of the Union, they would have to agree to all the provisions that would disadvantage the use of slaves and ultimately destroy the trade altogether.

Justice James Iredell stated during the Debate in North Carolina Ratifying Convention (26 July 1788):

“It was the wish of a great majority of the Convention to put an end [to slavery] immediately; but the states of South Carolina and Georgia would not agree to it. Consider, then, what would be the difference between our present situation in this respect, if we do not agree to the Constitution, and what it will be if we do agree to it. If we do not agree to it, do we remedy the evil? No, sir, we do not. For if the Constitution be not adopted, it will be in the power of every state to continue it forever. They may or may not abolish it, at their discretion. But if we adopt the Constitution, the trade must cease after twenty years, if Congress declare so, whether particular states please so or not; surely, then, we can gain by it. This was the utmost that could be obtained. I heartily wish more could have been done. But as it is, this government is nobly distinguished above others by that very provision. Where is there another country in which such a restriction prevails? We, therefore, sir, set an example of humanity, by providing for the abolition of this inhuman traffic, though at a distant period.”

The framers knew that by creating the union they would ensure the survival of Liberty, without the Union establishing a government on the principles that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Right” would likely fail.  James Madison spoke of this fear during the 1788 Ratifying Convention:

“Great as the evil is, a dismemberment of the Union would be worse.  If those States should disunite from the other States for not indulging them in the temporary continuance of this traffic, they might solicit and obtain aid from foreign powers.”

The drafters of the Constitution also understood through the establishment of the Republic they would guarantee the minority populations a society changing voice. They believed through compromise they had done everything that they could have possibly done end the institution of slavery and the power of slave owners and still create a union.  They were also persuaded through a study of their own history that if Liberty is given the proper fertile ground, it always prospers and grows.  They were convinced that Liberty was contagious!

Roger Sherman, a delegate from Connecticut to the Federal Convention (22 Aug. 1787) observed

that the abolition of slavery seemed to be going on in the U.S. & that the good sense of the several States would probably by degrees compleat (sic) it.” 

Oliver Elsworth, also a representative from Connecticut very confidently stated, “Slavery in time will not be a speck on our country.  Provision is already made in Connecticut for abolishing it.   And the abolition has already taken place in Massachusetts.”

An additional insurance for the cultivation of Liberty was established through the Amendment process. The framers believed that as society matured in Liberty, the people would be more capable of self-governance and need less government.  They wanted to ensure that as Liberty grew, it could also be protected through peaceful modification of the Constitution.  By offering the Amendment process, the expansions of Liberty could become permanent.  The Amendment process prevents the Constitution’s interpretation to be based upon the whim of the current culture.  Without the process of permanently amending the Constitution, the people of this nation would be subject to temporary interpretations.  The prevailing party or culture would beget a conservative interpretation today, a liberal interpretation tomorrow, a socialist interpretation the next… subjecting the people to an ever-vacillating standard and leaving the people never really knowing the security of their rights.

It is unquestionable that slavery was detested by many at the formation of our Constitution; only revisionists are served by denying this truth.  But the formation of the union was essential to the preservation of Liberty and the end of slavery.   Without the union these independent, sovereign States would be able to continue the practice of slavery without any national consequence.  The Constitution did not preserve slavery, it was crafted to be a weapon wielded for slavery’s demise.

It is to be hoped, that by expressing a national disapprobation of this trade, we may destroy it, and save ourselves from reproaches, and our posterity the imbecility ever attendant on a country filled with slaves.  James Madison, Import Duty on Slaves, House of Representatives  13 May 1789

It is true that members of Congress, Presidents, and Supreme Court Justices have all failed to meet the standards established by the drafters of the Constitution.  But the failings of America are because of the failings of people, and not because the standard set by the Constitution failed America. As Frederick Douglass asked in his defense of the Constitution, “Shall we condemn the righteous law because wicked men twist it to the support of wickedness? 

Frederick Douglass gives a most conclusive summary to the argument. Only by twisting the document’s words and ignoring the truth can we assign a pro-slavery character to the Constitution and miss its role in setting the stage for the abolition of slavery.

 “This, I undertake to say, as the conclusion of the whole matter, that the constitutionality of slavery can be made out only by disregarding the plain and common-sense reading of the Constitution itself; by discrediting and casting away as worthless the most beneficent rules of legal interpretation; by ruling the Negro outside of these beneficent rules; by claiming that the Constitution does not mean what it says, and that it says what it does not mean; by disregarding the written Constitution, and interpreting it in the light of a secret understanding. It is in this mean, contemptible, and underhand method that the American Constitution is pressed into the service of slavery. They go everywhere else for proof that the Constitution declares that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; it secures to every man the right of trial by jury, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus — the great writ that put an end to slavery and slave-hunting in England — and it secures to every State a republican form of government. Anyone of these provisions in the hands of abolition statesmen, and backed up by a right moral sentiment, would put an end to slavery in America.”

Taxation & the 3/5 compromise

In 1787, while drafting the U.S. Constitution, our Founders faced many questions, including how to levy taxes among the states. This issue was particularly sticky because of two elemental questions: First, what was the most equitable way to assess taxes against the states? Second, if population became the basis for assessment, should slaves be counted?
These questions were settled in the Constitution at Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3: “Representatives and direct Taxes (levied against the property of private individuals) shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included with 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.”
This sentence, when coupled with the other requirements of congressional representation, required that if there were a total of sixty-five representatives in Congress and Pennsylvania had nine of those representatives, then federal taxes levied against Pennsylvania by the government would be apportioned to Pennsylvania at a rate of nine sixty-fifths.
Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, at the Boston Ratification Convention on July 13, 1788, said, “All money to be raised for supplying the public treasury by direct taxation shall be assessed on the inhabitants of the several states according to the number of their representatives respectively in the first branch (house of representatives),…according to the general principle that taxation and representation ought to go together.”
Virginia’s Governor, Edmund Randolph, said at his state’s ratifying convention on June 6, 1788, “Representatives and taxes go hand in hand: according to the one will the other be regulated. The number of representatives is determined by the number of inhabitants;….”
The tie between representatives and apportionment of taxes is easy to ascertain from the language used in the Constitution and Founders’ discussions. This is not the case with the three-fifths clause.
The secret of the three-fifths clause for slaves was adequately explained by James Madison, who wrote, “We must deny the fact that slaves are considered merely as property, and in no respect whatever as persons. The true state of the case is that they partake of both these qualities: being considered by our laws, in some respects, as persons, and in other respects as property….In being protected,…in his life and in his limbs, against the violence of all otherwise, even the master of his labor and his liberty; and in being punishable himself for all violence committed against others – the slave is no less evidently regarded by the law as a member of the society, not as part of the irrational creation; as a moral person, not as a mere article of property. The federal Constitution, therefore, decides with great propriety on the case of our slaves, when it views them in the mixed character of persons and of property.” (The Federalist Papers, No. 54)
Without the compromises, which our Founders worked into the structure of the Constitution, the slaves would have been treated only as property. They would not have had the Constitutional protections that benefited them when their immediate situation could not be remedied. The slave holding states did not oppose the recognition of their slaves as persons with rights under the Constitution because of how the compromise was constructed.
Slavery was finally abolished by the 13th Amendment, after the War Between the States.

Emory President Extols 3/5 Compromise

Emory’s James Wagner sees the 3/5 Compromise as the price for achieving a more perfect union.

Emory University president James Wagner is in hot water for the curious citation of the infamous 3/5 Compromise as an example of the virtues of compromise:

One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution—“to form a more perfect union”—the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.

Some might suggest that the constitutional compromise reached for the lowest common denominator—for the barest minimum value on which both sides could agree. I rather think something different happened. Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared—the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.

This is part of a short essay for Emory Magazine arguing that our national leaders and his own campus community needs to do a better job of working together to solve complex problems. Not surprisingly, the column has sparked outrage and protest.

A faculty group censured him last week for the remarks. And in a speech at Friday’s reception for the campus exhibition, “And the Struggle Continues: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Fight for Social Change,” Dr. Wagner acknowledged both the nation’s continuing education in race relations and his own.

“I know that I personally have a long way to go,” he said.

His article has been seized upon by students and faculty members who say it was yet one more example of insensitivity from the Emory administration, which in September announced sweeping cuts that some say unfairly targeted programs that are popular with minorities.

About 45 students showed up to protest at the reception, silently holding signs that read “This is 5/5 outrageous” and “Shame on James” as the fight for racial equality was discussed by Dr. Wagner; Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a veteran of the civil rights movement; and leaders of the S.C.L.C.

His main point is one most of us would agree with; it is, after all, empty platitude. But that the 3/5 Compromise is the best example—indeed, it’s the only example in the article!—is odd, indeed. Had been looking for an example to justify a seemingly horrendous choice that was nonetheless better than the other available alternatives, it would have been a powerful choice. But there are better illustrations from the Philadelphia convention of working together to bridge differences in order to form a perfect union.

Wagner’s doctorate is in materials science and engineering and most of his career has been spent as a bureaucrat; he’s not a historian or philosopher. So, perhaps he can be forgiven for not having fully grappled with the issue. Then again, a career spent managing sensitive issues should have ingrained in him a bit more caution on something this inflammatory.

And it does seem that the protests are using this unfortunate choice on Wagner’s part to gain leverage on an unrelated issue: a decision to streamline poorly performing academic departments.

How did they solve the great compromise?

In the “Great Compromise,” every state was given equal representation, previously known as the New Jersey Plan, in one house of Congress, and proportional representation, known before as the Virginia Plan, in the other. It was not until July 23 that representation was finally settled.

Hereof, What was the result of the three fifths compromise?

The threefifths compromise had a major impact on U.S. politics for decades to come. It allowed slave states to have a disproportionate influence on the presidency, the Supreme Court, and other positions of power. It also resulted in the country having a roughly equal number of free and slave states.

What does the 3/5 compromise mean? The Three-Fifths Compromise outlined the process for states to count slaves as part of the population in order to determine representation and taxation for the federal government.

The Great Compromise settled matters of representation in the federal government. The Three-Fifths Compromise settled matters of representation when it came to the enslaved population of southern states and the importation of enslaved Africans. The Electoral College settled how the president would be elected.

What was one effect of the three fifths compromise?

The compromise solution was to count three out of every five slaves as people for this purpose. Its effect was to give the Southern states a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored, but fewer than if slaves and free people had been counted equally.

What was the purpose of the Great Compromise of 1787?

The Great Compromise was forged in a heated dispute during the 1787 Constitutional Convention: States with larger populations wanted congressional representation based on population, while smaller states demanded equal representation.

The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman Compromise) was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States

When was the 3/5 compromise passed?


What does the 3/5 compromise mean?

The Three-Fifths Compromise outlined the process for states to count slaves as part of the population in order to determine representation and taxation for the federal government.

Can the Constitution be written without compromise?

The Constitution could not have been written without compromise because with the difference in opinion between the different geographical and political groups, compromises such as a balance of representation in Congress, who should be count toward population and executive term limits were needed so that all groups

What were the key elements of the Great Compromise quizlet?

Why was the 3/5 compromise created?

The three-fifths compromise was an agreement, made at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, that allowed Southern states to count a portion of its enslaved population for purposes of taxation and representation. The compromise gave the South more power than it would have had if enslaved people had not been counted.

What were the two sides of the Great Compromise?

What were the two sides? The Constitutional Convention was split by large states and small states. The larger states supported the Virginia Plan, which had a bicameral, two house, Congress with both houses based on proportional representation, the amount of representatives a state gets is based of the population of it.

What were the two sides of the Great Compromise?

What were the two sides? The Constitutional Convention was split by large states and small states. The larger states supported the Virginia Plan, which had a bicameral, two house, Congress with both houses based on proportional representation, the amount of representatives a state gets is based of the population of it.

What was the great compromise what were its specific details?

Great Compromise

Also known as the Connecticut Compromise, a major compromise at the Constitutional Convention that created a two-house legislature, with the Senate having equal representation for all states and the House of Representatives having representation proportional to state populations.

What was the great compromise in drafting the new constitution?

The great compromise also known as Sherman compromise, the Connecticut compromise, the great compromise of 1787. It was an agreement made between the large and small states which involve how each state would be represented under the constitutions of the United States including the legislature.

Why was the great compromise so important?

The Great Compromise solved the problem of representation because it included both equal representation and proportional representation. The large states got the House which was proportional representation and the small states got the Senate which was equal representation.

Why was the great compromise so important?

The large states were happy because they got more members in the House of Representatives. The small states were happy because they got equal representation in the Senate. The large states were also happy because the House of Representatives was the only house of Congress that could write bills to create taxes.

What was the great compromise at the Constitutional Convention quizlet?

The Great Compromise was an agreement made among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention that the American government would have two houses in Congress: the Senate where each state has two Senators, and the House of Representatives where each state has a number of Representatives based on population.

When was the Great Compromise created?


What are the key points of the Great Compromise?

Connecticut Compromise. Roger Sherman addressed the nettlesome issues of representation and slavery by offering what came to be known as the Connecticut Compromise (or Great Compromise). It provided: The upper house (Senate) would have equal representation and be elected by the lower house.

What did the Great Compromise do in part quizlet?

The Great Compromise combined the best attributes of the Virginia and New Jersey plans. The House of Representatives was established based upon population which made the big states happy and the Senate was established by giving all states 2 Senators which made the small states happy.

What was the result of great compromise?

What was the result of the Great Compromise of 1787 during the Constitutional Convention quizlet?

Terms in this set (15) The Great Compromise, known as the Connecticut Compromise, was the result of a debate among delegates that decided how much representation each state should have in Congress. Delegates gathered at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 to reach a compromise on this issue.

What was the three fifths compromise quizlet?

compromise where every 5 enslaved people counted as 3 in the states population. Leaders that came together to change the Articles of Confederation. A compromise created by Roger Sherman that proposed different representation in the two-house legislature.

The Significance of the Great Compromise was that: The Great Compromise ensured the continuance of the Constitutional Convention. The Great Compromise established the Senate and the House of Representatives and allowed for them to work efficiently. The Great Compromise was included in the United States Constitution.

Which two descriptions reflect characteristics of the Great Compromise?

The Great Compromise (aka Connecticut Compromise) created a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature, with different rules for representation in each chamber. Representation in the House of Representatives would be based on population. In the Senate, all states would have the same amount of representation, by two Senators.

Was the electoral college part of the Great Compromise?

The Electoral College became part of the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, when delegates assembled to devise something to replace the Articles of Confederation. One of the compromises involved the creation of the electors.

What was the great compromise summary?

The Great Compromise—also known as the Connecticut Compromise or the Sherman Compromise—was an agreement made between large and small U.S. states that partly defined the representation each state would have in the legislature under the United States Constitution. This compromise occurred in the year 1787.

How was the 3/5 compromise like the Great Compromise?

The Three-Fifths Compromise

Southern states demanded that slaves count as 3/5 of a person to be counted in their populations, so they would have more representatives in the House of Representatives. This allowed southern slave states to block anti-slavery legislation proposed by northern states.

The Electoral College became part of the Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, when delegates assembled to devise something to replace the Articles of Confederation. One of the compromises involved the creation of the electors.

What was the great compromise Apush?

During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Sherman presented “The Great Compromise” (also called the Connecticut Compromise) to settle a dispute in the drafting of the Constitution. The Compromise devised a system that would please both the large and small states by dividing the legislative branch into two houses.

The Three-Fifths Compromise in Context

In the recent upheaval over President James Wagner’s comments, much ado has been made about the Three-Fifths Compromise. It has been treated with a great level of disfavor, and for understandable reason: it was, after all, a product of one of the darker portions of America’s founding history.

President Wagner’s comments definitely deserve to be criticized at the very least for being poorly-chosen politically. Given the amount of scrutiny he has been under in recent months, he should have chosen another example (like the creation of our bicameral legislature) that was less clouded by potential controversy.

However, if we’re going to be intellectually honest about our critiques of his statements, we have to do a better job of understanding the Three-Fifths Compromise. Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched as the Three-Fifths Compromise was handled with a great lack of historical context. This violates a cardinal rule of historical inquiry: in order to properly analyze or study a concept, one must understand its original significance within the context of the culture and time period that produced it.

In modern times, when dealing with issues such as racism and discrimination, modern liberal scholars tend to think of these concepts in terms of embedded systemic injustice or, in religious terms, systemic sin. The argument goes that there are structures and patterns of behavior in society that contribute to ongoing, even if unintentional, inequalities and injustices in the system.

When we apply this concept to our own American history, it becomes all too easy to simply point toward what is thought to be the systemic origins of the current injustice rather than comprehending that origin within its own native history and context. When we do this with racism, we can easily point toward the Three-Fifths Compromise as a source of racial injustice rather than consider it in its own time and place.

In the context of the Founders, however, slavery itself was the systemic injustice that plagued the early nation. Conversely, the Three-Fifths Compromise was their attempt at a solution.

After the Revolutionary War, the new American nation adopted the dysfunctional Articles of Confederation. This system, among other problems, apportioned only one representative in the national legislature for each State. This was completely distasteful to larger states and southern states: they felt that their larger numbers of people should warrant larger levels of power over national affairs. The Southern states wanted to count their slaves as full people as well: this would exploit their numbers to increase the states’ overall political clout without actually granting the slaves commensurate liberties or rights.

The northern states abhorred this idea and only wanted to count free people in representation. Not only would counting slaves have restricted their states’ power, but also the argument as suggested would have forced the Constitutional Convention to enshrine slavery in the new Constitution. The records of the Convention, as reported by James Madison, support the notion that the morality of the issue was also at stake in the deliberations: “[The Convention] thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men.”

This conflict not only saw the birth of our bicameral legislature but also the controversial Three-Fifths Compromise, which under Article I, Section 2 permitted the inclusion of “three fifths of all other persons” excluding untaxed Indians in final population figures used in calculating representation in the House of Representatives.

While the practice of slavery was allowed to continue under the new Constitution, the Three-Fifths Compromise prevented slave-holding states from fully exploiting their slave populations and gaining an unbreakable political monopoly. Frederick Douglass argued this point multiple times during his lifetime as an abolitionist, stating that the Three-Fifths Compromise was “a downright disability laid upon the slave-holding states” that served to deprive them of “two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.”

In combination with the Article 1, Section 9 clause preventing Congress from interfering with the “Migration or Importation of Such Persons” that the States saw fit until 1808, a restrictive framework was placed around the peculiar institution. In many of the Founders’ minds, 1808 was tantamount to a political expiration date for slavery. James Madison said as much in his 1810 State of the Union address: “American citizens are instrumental in carrying on a traffic in enslaved Africans, equally in violation of the laws of humanity and in defiance of those of their own country. The same just and benevolent motives which produced interdiction in force against this criminal conduct will doubtless be felt by Congress in devising further means of suppressing the evil.”

Unfortunately, the dream for such a clean resolution was left unfulfilled. It took several decades, and the political and economic pressures that culminated in the Civil War, to finally end it. Even then, the entrenched racism that resulted from prolonged centuries of race-based slavery persisted for decades more.

Some have argued that this violent outcome means the Three-Fifths Compromise was ultimately a failure. But does that mean we should automatically vilify the Founders efforts to end slavery? I think not.

Many founders, most famously Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, owned and maintained large numbers of slaves as a part of their households. They were, in modern terms, complicit in the unjust system. However, despite their ownership of these slaves, a large number of the founders still saw the peculiar institution as the evil that it was.

Washington, in a 1786 letter to Robert Morris, wrote that “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery]” (Washington’s will directed that, upon his wife’s death, his slaves be freed and supported financially out of his estate).

Other founders recognized the ideological failure that slavery represented for the American legacy. John Jay wrote in a letter to R. Lushington in 1786, “It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.”

If we set our own modern sensibilities aside and try to understand the original context of the Founders, we can see that they were trying to attack the moral and systemic evil of slavery while still preserving the fledgling United States. Given the difficulty of the task, it might be more appropriate to view the Three-Fifths Compromise not as a reprehensible blot on America’s racial history, but an honest (if imperfect) attempt to combat the evil of slavery.


Whether the 3/5 compromise was a morally corrupt decision or not is still being hotly debated. One thing is for certain the Constitution may never have been ratified without it. So in essence it was morally reprehensible to have to resort to such shenanigans it could have been worse. Eventually the wrong was righted with the 13th Amendment.

Resources, “The History of the Three-Fifths Compromise.” By Nadra Kareem Nittle;, “What is the 3/5 Compromise?”;, “Understanding the three-fifths compromise”;, “The Constitution Ended Slavery – Politicians Prolonged It: The Constitution Ended Slavery – Politicians Prolonged It.” By Kris Anne Hall, JD;, “Taxation & the 3/5 compromise.” By Don Powers;, “Emory President Extols 3/5 Compromise: Emory’s James Wagner sees the 3/5 Compromise as the price for achieving a more perfect union.” By JAMES JOYNER;, ” 3/5 Compromiae.
” By Shakirah Baby;, “How did they solve the great compromise?”, “The Three-Fifths Compromise in Context.” by Emory Wheel ;, “Unintended Consequences: The 3/5th Compromise.” By Marlon Mosley;


Article 1 Section 2 clause 3 of the United States Consitution states ” 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.” To be clear all other persons are slaves, in case that wasn’t made clear.

During the US Constitutional Convention of 1787, the topic of slavery and how to deal with slaves was one of many issues to be discussed. Those who are students of history know that the issue of slavery would not be dealt with till many decades later but what was of concern was how to count slaves for political purposes. The Convention had already decided that representation in the House of Representatives would be based on a States total population count (i.e., California has the highest number of representatives in our current Congress due to it being the most populous state). The northern or free states wanted only free inhabitants of a state to only count for census purposes. The northern states also wanted slaves to count as property so the southern states would incur more of a tax burden. The southern states or slavery holding states, wanted slaves to be counted in total along the free inhabitants for census purposes (with no rights of course) so that they could have a higher number of seats in the House of Representatives. Southern states also didn’t want the slaves to count as property so that their tax burden would be reduced. After numerous debates on the issue with no traction being gained from either side, a “compromise” was proposed. The proposed compromise solution was to count 3 out of every five slaves as a person for taxation and representation purposes. The Northern States agreed to the compromise because it increased the tax burden that the Southern states would carry and only slightly (in their eyes anyways ) increase their representation numbers. The southern states liked that the compromise decreased its tax numbers from the norths original proposal (remember only 3 out of every 5) is counted but more importantly increase its representation numbers in the House of Representatives.

To give this some more perspective another compromise came out of the convention, the Connecticut Compromise. Under the Connecticut Compromise, one house of Congress (The Senate) would have an equal number of members regardless of population size, while the other (House of Representatives) Would be based on population size. At the time of the convention, northern states tended to be smaller, so the Connecticut Compromise was a massive win for them With the Connecticut compromise in mind, perhaps the North didn’t want to press their luck with the 3/5th compromise? On its face the 3/5th compromise was a huge win for the southern states, Maybe the northern states didn’t think they could get the Connecticut compromise and more equal terms on the 3/5th compromise and had to “compromise” on one?

Mistakes Were Made:

The 3/5th Compromise was a massive win for southern states. In 1793, southern states held 47 of the 105 seats in the House, but without the count of slaves, they would have only held 33 seats. In 1812 they held 76 out of 143 but without slaves would have just held only 59, in 1833, they held 98 out of 240 instead of the 73 they would have held without slaves. Because of the inflated representation numbers, the  Southern states had a significant influence on the presidency, the speakership position in the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. The 3/5th compromise also had an effect on the number of slave vs. free states in the union and an impact on the electoral college votes. Historian Gary Willia has stated that without the additional slave state votes, Thomas Jefferson would have lost the Election of 1800. Slavery would have been excluded from Missouri and slavery would have been banned in territory won from Mexico.

Imagine a world where the northern states rejected the 3/5th compromise? Would the Civil War have happened a lot sooner (probably)? Would it have forced our Founding Fathers to have a more in-depth discussion about slavery instead of punting on the issue? Think about the Supreme Court case of Dred Scott v. Sanford and its effect on slavery (the case ruled that slaves were not US citizens), would this case have ended up differently if the south didn’t have such influence over the supreme court nominees? The northern states basically placated the South on the issue of slavery and representation because it was scared the south wouldn’t agree to the bigger goal of ratifying the US Constitution. This placating ended up biting the North in the butt because of the representation advantage in politics it gave the Southern States. This representation advantage would not disappear until the Civil War.  In fact, Abraham Lincoln campaigned on this representative disadvantage the North had during his run for President. The North “couldn’t see the forest from the trees” when it came to the issue of slavery. Slavery was not an issue that would just go away, it had to be dealt with head-on as we would later see with the Civil War.

How We Sold Our Soul Postings