Three-Fifths Compromise, aka Three-Fifths Clause

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Three-Fifths Compromise, also known as Three-Fifths Clause

Three-Fifths Compromise, aka Three-Fifths Clause
Slave.jpg
Three-Fifths Compromise, aka Three-Fifths Clause

Myth: The South promoted and protected slavery and the slave trade.
Fact: The U.S. Constitution promoted and protected slavery and the slave trade.
Myth: State laws promoted and protected slavery and the slave trade.
Fact: Federal laws promoted and protected slavery and the slave trade.

Three-Fifths Compromise
 
Summary
 
The Three-Fifths Compromise, commonly referred to as the Three-fifths Clause, was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the population of slaves would be counted for enumeration purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of the members of the United States House of Representatives. It was proposed by delegates James Wilson and Roger Sherman.
 
Delegates opposed to slavery generally wished to count only the free inhabitants of each state. Delegates supportive of slavery, on the other hand, generally wanted to count slaves in their actual numbers. Since slaves could not vote, slaveholders would thus have the benefit of increased representation in the House and the Electoral College. The final compromise of counting "all other persons" as only three-fifths of their actual numbers reduced the power of the slave states relative to the original southern proposals, but increased it over the northern position.
 
The Three-fifths Compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:
“ 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 word "slave" does not appear in the United States Constitution because the framers consciously avoided the word, thus applying the words "other persons." The framers recognized that it would sully the document. Nevertheless, slavery received important protections in the Constitution.
 
Following the Civil War and the abolition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1865), the Three-fifths Clause was rendered moot. Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1868) later superseded Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3. It specifically states that "Representatives shall be apportioned ...counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed..."

The Constitution and Slavery

Provisions in the Original Constitution
 
Article I, Section. 2. [Slaves count as 3/5 persons]
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 [i.e., slaves].

Article I, Section. 9, Clause 1. [No power to ban slavery until 1808]
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper 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.

Article IV, Section. 2. [Free states cannot protect slaves]
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
 
Article V [No Constitutional Amendment to Ban Slavery until 1808]
...No Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article.
 

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.
 
Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

(Sources listed at bottom of page.)

Recommended Reading: Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority. Description: “Black people are not dark-skinned white people,” says advertising visionary Tom Burrell. In fact, they are much more. They are survivors of the Middle Passage and centuries of humiliation and deprivation, who have excelled against the odds, constantly making a way out of “No way!” At this pivotal point in history, the idea of black inferiority should have had a “Going-Out-of-Business Sale.” After all, Barack Obama has reached America’s Promised Land. Continued below...
Yet, as Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority testifies, too many in black America are still wandering in the wilderness. In this powerful examination of “the greatest propaganda campaign of all time”—the masterful marketing of black inferiority, aka the BI Complex—Burrell poses ten disturbing questions that will make black people look in the mirror and ask why, nearly 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, so many blacks still think and act like slaves. Burrell’s acute awareness of the power of words and images to shift, shape, and change the collective consciousness has led him to connect the contemporary and historical dots that have brought us to this crossroads.
Brainwashed is not a reprimand—it is a call to action. It demands that we question our self-defeating attitudes and behaviors. Racism is not the issue; how we respond to media distortions and programmed self-hatred is the issue. It’s time to reverse the BI campaign with a globally based initiative that harnesses the power of new media and the wisdom of intergenerational coalitions. Provocative and powerful, Brainwashed dares to expose the wounds so that we, at last, can heal. About the Author: Marketing communications pioneer and Advertising Hall of Fame inductee Tom Burrell is credited with revolutionizing the image of African Americans in television and changing the face of American advertising. His award-winning work promoted positive and realistic images of blacks and acknowledged the purchasing power of the African American community. Burrell is the founder of The Resolution Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes intra-racial dialogue and community-based new media “stop the brainwash” campaigns. He lives in Chicago’s South Loop area.

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Related Reading:
 

Recommended Reading: American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm. Description: A dramatic and moving tribute to the military’s unsung heroes, American Patriots tells the story of the black servicemen and women who defended American ideals on the battlefield, even as they faced racism in the ranks and segregation on the home front. Through hundreds of original interviews with veterans of every war since World War I, historic accounts, and photographs, Gail Buckley brings these heroes and their struggles to life. Continued below...
We meet Henry O. Flipper, who withstood silent treatment from his classmates to become the first black graduate of West Point in 1877. And World War II infantry medic Bruce M. Wright, who crawled through a minefield to shield a fallen soldier during an attack. Finally, we meet a young soldier in Vietnam, Colin Powell, who rose through the ranks to become, during the Gulf War, the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Fourteen years in the making, American Patriots is a landmark chronicle of the brave men and women whose courage and determination changed the course of American history.
 
Recommended Reading: Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Description: In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—an “Age of Neoslavery” that thrived from the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II.Using a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, Douglas A. Blackmon unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude shortly thereafter. Continued below...
By turns moving, sobering, and shocking, this unprecedented account reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.
Reviews:
“Shocking. . . . Eviscerates one of our schoolchildren's most basic assumptions: that slavery in America ended with the Civil War.”—The New York Times“An astonishing book. . . . It will challenge and change your understanding of what we were as Americans-and of what we are.”—Chicago Tribune “The genius of Blackmon's book is that it illuminates both the real human tragedy and the profoundly corrupting nature of the Old South slavery as it transformed to establish a New South social order.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution“A formidably researched, powerfully written, wrenchingly detailed narrative.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
Recommended Reading: Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White. Description: Setting the Record Straight is a unique view of the religious and moral heritage of black Americans, with an emphasis on the untold yet significant stories from our rich political history. The material presented is ground-breaking and revolutionary, leaving viewers amazed and inspired. Continued below...
About the Author: David Barton is the founder of WallBuilders, an organization dedicated to presenting America's forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on our moral, religious, and constitutional heritage. David is author of numerous best-selling works and a national award-winning historian who brings a fresh perspective to history.
 
Description: Amistad (DVD). Review: Steven Spielberg's most simplistic, sanitized history lesson, Armistad, explores the symbolic 1840s trials of 53 West Africans following their bloody rebellion aboard a slave ship. For most of Schindler's List (and, later, Saving Private Ryan) Spielberg restrains himself from the sweeping narrative and technical flourishes that make him one of our most entertaining and manipulative directors. Here, he doesn't even bother trying, succumbing to his driving need to entertain with beautiful images and contrived emotion. Continued below...
He cheapens his grandiose motives and simplifies slavery, treating it as cut- and-dry genre piece. Characters are easy Hollywood stereotypes--"villains" like the Spanish sailors or zealous abolitionists are drawn one-dimensionally and sneered upon. And Spielberg can't suppress his gifted eye, undercutting normally ugly sequences, such as the terrifying slave passage, which is shot as a gorgeous, well-lit composition. At its core, Amistad is a traditional courtroom drama, centered by a tired, clichéd narrative: a struggling, idealistic young lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) fighting the crooked political system and saving helpless victims. Worse yet, Spielberg actually takes the underlying premise of his childhood fantasy, E.T. and repackages it for slavery. Cinque (Djimon Hounsou), the leader of the West African rebellion, is presented much like the adorable alien: lost, lacking a common language, and trying to find his way home. McConaughey is a grown-up Elliot who tries communicating complicated ideas such as geography by drawing pictures in the sand or language by having Cinque mimic his facial expressions. Such stuff was effective for a sci-fi fantasy about the communication barriers between a boy and a lost alien; here, it seems like a naive view of real, complex history.
 
Recommended Reading: The SLAVE TRADE: THE STORY OF THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE: 1440 - 1870. Description: After many years of research, award-winning historian Hugh Thomas portrays, in a balanced account, the complete history of the slave trade. Beginning with the first Portuguese slaving expeditions, he describes and analyzes the rise of one of the largest and most elaborate maritime and commercial ventures in all of history. Between 1492 and 1870, approximately eleven million black slaves were carried from Africa to the Americas to work on plantations, in mines, or as servants in houses. Continued below...
The Slave Trade is alive with villains and heroes and illuminated by eyewitness accounts. Hugh Thomas's achievement is not only to present a compelling history of the time but to answer as well such controversial questions as who the traders were, the extent of the profits, and why so many African rulers and peoples willingly collaborated. Thomas also movingly describes such accounts as are available from the slaves themselves. Kirkus Reviews: A masterful survey of the origins, development, nature, and decline of the trade in African men, women, and children, drawing heavily on original sources. Thomas (Conquest: Montezuma, Cort‚s and the Fall of Old Mexico, 1994, etc.) argues that, while the practice of slavery was widespread in Europe even during the Middle Ages, it was the Portuguese, as their explorers began to establish trade in Africa in the 1440s, who turned an intermittent habit into a large and sophisticated business. Most other seafaring European nations- -including the Spanish, English, and Dutch--soon followed. Drawing heavily on journals, state documents, business ledgers, and memoirs, Thomas is able to trace in astonishing detail how the business was run, who financed it, and what their profits were, and to explain the complex and profitable interactions of merchants and governments in the trade. Because Thomas is so thorough, there are numbers of surprises here, including the details of the longstanding collaboration of some African rulers with the slave trade. It's also startling to discover that, according to Thomas, approximately one in every ten slave ships experienced a slave rebellion--and that a few were even successful. The sailors in the trade, Thomas notes, were treated horribly themselves: The mortality rate of Dutch crews, for instance, hovered at about 18 percent, while on average about 12 percent of the Africans being transported died at sea. While this is primarily an economic and political history, Thomas does not slight the suffering of the slaves, nor the widespread corrupting effect of the trade on the nations involved in it. He concludes with a vivid history of the long struggle of the abolitionists, beginning in the 18th century, to make the trade illegal. Grim but consistently gripping history, told with clarity and a meticulous attention to detail, this is likely to become the standard reference on the economics of the slave trade.

Sources: Wills, Garry (2003). “Negro President”: Jefferson and the Slave Power. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618343989; Walton, Hanes, Jr.; Smith, Robert C. (2006). American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom (3rd Edition ed.). New York: Pearson Longman. ISBN 0321292375; Wiencek, Henry (2004). An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0374529515; Library of Congress; National Archives.

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