What is the 3/5 of person amendment in the constitution?
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The Three-Fifths Compromise, (not amendment), was an agreement to count three-fifths of a state's slaves in apportioning Representatives, Presidential electors, and direct taxes.
The three-fifths figure was the outgrowth of a debate that had taken place within the Continental Congress in 1783. The Articles of Confederation had apportioned taxes not according to population but according to land values. The states consistently undervalued their land in order to reduce their tax burden. To rectify this situation, a special committee recommended apportioning taxes by population. The Continental Congress debated the ratio of slaves to free persons at great length. Northerners favored a 4-to-3 ratio, while southerners favored a 2-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio. Finally, James Madison suggested a compromise: a 5-to-3 ratio. All but two states--New Hampshire and Rhode Island--approved this recommendation. But because the Articles of Confederation required unanimous agreement, the proposal was defeated. When the Constitutional Convention met in 1787, it adopted Madison's earlier suggestion.
The taxes that the Three-Fifths Compromise dealt with were "direct" taxes, as opposed to excise or import taxes. It was not until 1798 that Congress imposed the first genuine direct taxes in American history: a tax on dwelling-houses and a tax on slaves aged 12 to 50.
The Three-Fifths Compromise greatly augmented southern political power. In the Continental Congress, where each state had an equal vote, there were only five states in which slavery was a major institution. Thus the southern states had about 38 percent of the seats in the Continental Congress. Because of the 1787 Three-Fifths Compromise, the southern states had nearly 45 percent of the seats in the first U.S. Congress, which took office in 1790.
Over the long term, the Three-Fifths Compromise did not work as the South anticipated. Since the northern states grew more rapidly than the South, by 1820, southern representation in the House had fallen to 42 percent. Nevertheless, from Jefferson's election as President in 1800 to the 1850s, the three-fifths rule would help to elect slaveholding Presidents. Southern political power increasingly depended on the Senate, the President, and the admission of new slaveholding states.
The Thirteenth Amendment: The Abolition of Slavery
The Constitution that the delegates proposed included several provisions that explicity recognized and protected slavery. Without these provisions, southern delegates would not support the new Constitution--and without the southern states on board, the Constitution had no chance of being ratified. Provisions allowed southern states to count slaves as 3/5 persons for purposes of apportionment in Congress (even though the slaves could not, of course, vote), expressly denied to Congress the power to prohibit importation of new slaves until 1808, and prevented free states from enacting laws protecting fugitive slaves.
Parableman - 3/5 of a Person
I recently encountered the claim (that I see often enough) that the U.S. Constitution defined slaves as 3/5 of a person. That claim is actually false. The Constitution did no such thing. What it did is count them as 3/5 toward representation, which was a compromise between those who didn't want them represented and those who thought they should count fully. Here is what the actual wording said:
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 wording actually assumes they are full persons. It distinguishes between the contribution to the census from free persons and the contribution from other persons. It's 3/5 of the number of other persons that gets added to the number of free persons. It's not that slaves are 3/5 of a person.
And for the record, it was those who opposed slavery who didn't want them counted and those who favored it who did, because counting them as full persons would mean more representation in Congress for their states (and yet the voting for those states wouldn't involve the slaves voting, of course, so it's even more influence for the slave-holders if they counted fully).
If we take the constitutional wording to imply that slaves were only viewed as 3/5 of a person, we should also conclude that abolitionists must not have thought slaves were real people, because they wanted them counted as zero, and slaveowners must have thought they were indeed real people, because they wanted them counted as full persons. It's not as if those who favored slavery were defining slaves as less than full persons. It was those who opposed slavery who didn't want their slaves counting toward representation when they didn't have representation who were behind this.
Interestingly, the roles had been reversed for the debate over an amendment on this for the Articles of Confederation, because that debate was over how much in taxes the states had to pay, where the non-slave states wanted slave states to pay more due to their higher population. You would have more success making that argument in this case, because at least the roles line up that way, but that would misunderstand what the issues were.
It had nothing to do with their actual view of the moral status or personhood status of slaves but was about how much political influence states would have, and the Articles of Confederation debate about the same exact issue had been about how much in taxes they would have to pay. Which issue it was about determined which stance each side took, and they completely reversed their positions when the issue changed to make the opposite view favor them. So there's simply no claiming that this was about defining the personhood of slaves or anything. It was simply about how to calculate populations for political results, and those who argued for each side compromised between counting them for certain purposes and not counting them for those purposes by proposing the 3/5 count.
There are plenty of things you might disagree with about how slaves were treated, and it is indeed unfair to be counted at all for representation but not being represented (but we do that with children still). Nevertheless, it's simply false that the Constitution defined them as 3/5 of a person, as if that judgment in particular reveals a view that slaves were viewed as not fully persons. It does no such thing, because it's not about that issue at all. To find evidence that people believed such a thing (and I'm not saying there is no such evidence), it doesn't do to cite what the Constitution says about this issue.
Why did the founding fathers pick the number three-fifths for the Three-Fifths Compromise?
The 'Three-Fifths' in the 'Three-Fifths Compromise' refers to the fact that it was agreed that slaves would each count as three-fifths of a person. In other words, for every five slaves, three of them counted as people. After the 'Great Compromise,' having a large population would determine how many electoral votes each state would have, how many votes in the House of Representatives each state would have, and how much each state would pay in taxes. By counting slaves in their population, the South would gain more political power but would pay more in taxes, which they were willing to do. The North disagreed because they felt that slaves should not count as people because they did not have the rights that free people hold. If the South wanted these crucial additions to their population, the slaves would have to be free. Both sides disagreed, so they were forced to compromise. They agreed that slaves would count as three-fifths of a person. As far as your one-half or two-thirds comments, I do not know where you could find information as to why they settled on one number instead of another.
It was the process used to decide the number of representatives that could be elected to the House of Representatives by Southern states and the distribution of tax revenue. Each slave was counted as three-fifths of a person" rather than a whole individual in an attempt to keep Southern slave owners from gaining substantial power in government and financial advantage in the apportioning of taxes.
After agreeing on how many seats the House would hold would be based on population, they needed to decide if the slave population be counted. Most of the south was for the counting of slaves and most of the north was opposed. Finally the founders concluded that every free person should be counted and that 3/5 of the slaves would be counted. This 3/5 was also used in fixing the amount of money to be raised in each state by a direct tax. The southerners won the count of their slaves but they would now end up paying more for them.
Representation of slaves was debated in the Continental Congress at the time of the creation of the Articles of Confederation. The North favored a 4-to-3 ratio, while southerners favored a 2-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio. James Madison proposed a compromise-- a 5-to-3 ratio. All but two states agreed on the compromise figure. But, since the Articles required all states to approve such enactment, the issue was defeated. When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met in 1787, they decided upon the representation of slaves and the three-fifths figure that Madison had suggested earlier.
Because 3 out of 5 is a majority. 1 out of 2 is just half.