The 3/5 Compromise

I was on my lunch break the other day at work working on my netbook computer of which I have a picture of three of the Founding Fathers: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Samuel Adams. This striked up a conversation between me and a couple of my co-workers. One of them said the Founding Fathers were all racists. After investigating further they thought they were racists because they owned slaves and only counted negros as three-fifths of a person in the Constitution.

This lit a fire underneath me because I knew that these individuals had no clue what was actually meant when the Founding Fathers put this into the Constitution. I felt the need to educate my co-workers. They thought that the 3/5 statement was in the Constitution because the Founding Fathers wanted to continue slavery when in actuality it was the exact opposite.

"The Three-Fifths compromise was a compromise between the 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 appointment 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 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 [which would be more difficult to abolish slavery]. The final compromise of counting "all other persons" as only three-fifths of their actual number reduced the power of the slave states relative to the original southern proposals, but increased it over the northern position." - Wikipedia

The actual text in the Constitution found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 says: "Representative and direct Taxes shall be appointed 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."

Wikipedia continues: "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."

Once I explained this to these individuals, I saw their mind enlightened and were surprised, and they didn't have anything further to say. It irks me to no end when someone just spits out something like that they have no understanding of...just something they heard or thought without doing their homework.

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